Thursday, February 20, 2014

Worlds Collide: A Couple of Hybrid Beers to Drink This Weekend in Oshkosh

Let’s taste a couple of recent arrivals to the Oshkosh scene that merge contrasting beer styles into a single thread.

Relative Madness by 4 Brothers Blended Beer Co.
4 Brothers is a Waukesha-based contract brewery that has its beer made at Sand Creek Brewing in Black River Falls. These guys have a gimmick: each of their beers is a blend of two distinct styles. Their use of the term “blended beer” is somewhat misleading. They’re not taking the typical route of doing a post-fermentation blending of individual beers. Instead, they create a mash-up of two separate recipes and brew up a single beer. Got that? Not sure I do.

Anyway, Relative Madness is their melding of a porter with a blonde ale. And it works. The beer pours to a deep brown with a creamy tan cap. The aroma is mostly roast with some biscuit malt coming up as it warms. The palate leans towards the robust American porter side of things with mild roast and caramel/chocolate flavors holding court. If you try real hard, you can get that blonde ale influence with its light body and wee twinge of bitterness in the finish. It’s a good, easy-drinking beer that goes well with grilled meat (I’m speaking from experience).

Relative Madness is 5.2% ABV and is available at Festival foods in Oshkosh for $8.99 a six-pack. Currently, Festy is carrying all four of the 4 Brothers’ “blended” beers.

Dampf Loc by Local Option Bierwerker, Chicago
Now this one, is right up my alley. This is a Dampfbier, the German version of a steam beer. A Dampfbier is an ale that is fermented with wheat-beer yeast, while having a grain bill composed entirely of barley. This is an old-style of brew (known as a poor-peoples beer) that originated in Bavaria. It had all but died out by the early 1900s. A few American craft brewers have picked up on it recently and Local Option, a Chicago beer bar that does contract brews with Pub Dog Brewing in Maryland, does a fine job with it.

Dampf Loc is a hazy, copper-colored beer with a billowing white head. It’s lightly aromatic, giving off a whiff of fresh bread and a talc-like mineral scent. The taste is mildly fruity and earthy and its light body prompts you to gulp it. This is a very unassuming beer, but there’s something that seems almost exotic about it. The finish is dry and spicy with a gentle, lingering bitterness. I think it’s delicious.

Dampf Loc is 5.3% ABV and is available in the packaged beer section at Gardina’s. They’re selling pint bottles of it for $5.99.

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