Thursday, February 13, 2014
Chocolate Winds of Spiced Ale... Three Beers to Drink This Weekend in Oshkosh
Fox River Brewing Company Chocolate Stout. Every year for the past few, Fratellos in Oshkosh has been serving up a Chocolate Stout for Valentine’s Day. This year’s edition is a deep dark stout aged on cocoa nibs. I had a lovely goblet of this beer yesterday. Starts out with a plume of roasted malt that eases into a silky wash of chocolate. As the beer warms, an almond-like note crops up that goes well with the chocolate flavor. Unlike some beers of this stripe that overplay the chocolate card, this isn’t a one-trick pony. It’s a nicely balanced, very drinkable ale. Chocolate Stout is 7% ABV and is available in both bottles and on draft at Fratellos in Oshkosh.
O’so Winds Of Change. You ain’t kidding. O’so is going through some sweeping changes. They’ve just hired Steve Buszka as their new brewmaster and the brewery is branching off in the direction of wild and sour beers. This sour ale is the liquid embodiment of what’s new up there in lovely Plover, WI. Winds Of Change is one of four sour beers made in collaboration with Madison’s Funk Factory Geuzeria. The beer is a blend of old and young pale ales fermented with brettanomyces and aged in oak barrels. It pours a hazy shade of pale gold and is highly effervescent. There’s a solid hit of acidic funk in the nose that comes across as lemon and hay in the mouth. A citric-hop flavor and compact bitterness runs through all of it. There’s a lot going on here, but none of it distracts from the beer’s overall refreshing character. It’s 5.5% ABV and maybe a little rough around the edges, but I liked that part of it, too. It’s just what a rustic, sour ale ought to be. Winds Of Change is available in 750 ml bottles at the retail store in Gardina’s.
New Glarus Spiced Ale. Here’s the latest from NG’s Thumbprint Series. This is a strong ale generously spiced with cassia cinnamon, ginger and allspice. It pours to a deep, ruby/bronze under a thick white head. Settled in the glass, the beer looks beautiful. You’ll get all of that spice up front, but when you start drinking the first impression is of honey and caramel malt. Then the spices kick in, with the cinnamon leading the way. This is a big beer (no ABV given, but trust me, there’s some heft to it), yet it’s light and lively on the palate. The finish is medium-dry with just a little powderiness. I’m not a huge fan of spiced beers, but I can’t help admiring how well made this is. Definitely one you’ll want to try. Spiced Ale is available in 12oz 4-packs at Gardina’s and Festival Foods.