Shakedown IPA. Here’s a terrific hop-centric ale that went on tap at Fratellos in Oshkosh earlier this week. It’s a single hop beer showcasing Simcoe, a highly aromatic hop that sometimes comes off smelling musky or catty (as in that odor drifting from the litter box). Not here. This beer presents all the hops' best attributes with an aroma full of oranges, mango and pine. Unfiltered, the beer has a nice golden haze and a slight, English maltiness that allows the hops to grab all the attention. The beer is not aggressively bitter, but bitter enough to please most hopheads. At 7.1% ABV, it will make an impression on you. Definitely a beer to check out, if hops are your thing. They’re also selling it in bottles in the big cooler by the main bar.
Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy Über-Oktoberfest. I can give you a couple good reasons not to drink this beer: first, Leinenkugel’s parent company, Miller Brewing, is despicable. Second, August is no time to be drinking any form of Oktoberfest beer. Oh, to hell with morals and decorum, this is a great lager. A big (8.5% ABV), toasty remake of the standard Oktoberfest, it has all the malty/toffee notes you’d expect from an Über take on the style. But what really gets me about this beer is the hop flavor. They’ve dry hopped this with what I’m guessing is Hallertau, giving it a spiciness that melds perfectly with the malt. This would go great with some spicy brats off the grill. Get it in 4-packs at Festival Foods in Oshkosh.
Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale, by Stevens Point Brewery. Here we go again: this isn’t the time of year to be drinking any damned pumpkin beer. What you gonna do? Smell this thing and you won’t care that they’ve jumped the gun. It stinks just like a big, fat, delicious pumpkin pie. A dollop of whipped cream on top wouldn’t be inappropriate. Loads of cinnamon and nutmeg accentuate the malty sweetness of the beer making it an ideal dessert drink. My only quibble is that all that spiciness conspires with the hops to make the finish more brash than I would have liked. But that’s just me. A good beer to cap off an outdoor feast. At 7.5% ABV it’ll settle your stomach. Get it in 4-packs at Festival Foods in Oshkosh. And have a great Labor Day Weekend! Prost!