Thursday, November 6, 2014

Beer From Here & Faraway

We’re flirting with winter, but the beer scene isn’t cooling down any. There are a lot of interesting choices to explore this weekend in Oshkosh. We’ll start with some local brew and head out from there...

Buffalo Mike’s Pumpernickel Rye @ Fratello’s in Oshkosh
Now this is truly an Oshkosh beer. The Society of Oshkosh Brewers teamed-up with Oshkosh’s Fox River Brewing Company to brew this ale. Oshkosh homebrewer Mike Engel supplied the recipe and Kevin Bowen, brewmaster at FRBC, directed the brew day. If you dig rye bread, get in on this one. This beer is always a hit at local beer fests. I’m looking forward to trying it off the big system.

Fox River Brewing Company Barrel-Aged Beers
I had heard that a few barrel-aged beers were on the way from FRBC, but didn’t realize the scope of what they had in the works. This stopped me in my tracks. We have five, new barrel-aged beers to pick from. They’re packed in bombers and you can grab them at either Gardina’s (nice to see a local shop carrying local beer) or at Fratellos. Here’s the list...

Zinful Triple. A 10% ABV golden strong ale aged in a red zinfandel barrel.
Zinful Abbey. FRBC’s Belgian dubbel aged in a red zinfandel barrel.
'Merican Beauty. A Scottish ale aged in a Four Roses Bourbon barrel.
Bohemian Rap. A Scottish ale aged in a Korbel Brandy barrel.
Barrel Brothers. A blend of Fox River’s bourbon and brandy barrel aged Scottish ales.

Where to start? I’ll eventually dip into all of them, but I think my first couple picks are going to be the 'Merican Beauty and the Barrel Brothers. I may not get much done this weekend.

Central Waters Headless Heron
Head to either Gardina’s or Ski’s for bombers of this beer. It’s an 8.5% ABV bourbon-barrel aged beer dosed with pumpkin pie spicing. Consider taking it in with a few gingerbread cookies as a satisfying finish to a weekend feast.

Dos Deschutes Brews
Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon began flowing a limited selection of their beer into Oshkosh last July. Just now we’re starting to see a wider sampling of their wares. Here’s two more Deschutes Brews now available at Gardina’s.

Chasin' Freshies 2014 is a wet-hopped, 7.4% IPA. This year, the hop of choice is mosaic. Here’s the brewery’s hype: “At harvest, we rush the hops from the vine to our kettles to ensure we capture the purest, juiciest essence of the hop flower in every beer.” That either moved your soul or you’re not a hop head.

Deschutes Obsidian Stout. Consistently chosen as one of the world’s best stouts, this beer is legendary. It’s rare you see a beer that’s just 6.4% ABV gain this sort of reputation. Chocolate and roast notes predominate. The creamy mouthfeel leads to an easy, dry finish. At some point in your life, you ought to try this beer.

AleSmith Decadence 2014 Wheat Wine
Ski’s is selling this in foil-wrapped bombers. An incredibly rich, 10% ABV ale that’s meant for sharing. It’s sweet and full bodied with loads of caramel and dark fruit notes. If you’re the patient type, consider picking one of these up and cellaring it for a year.

Germans at Gardina’s
Adam at Gardina’s has recently brought in a number of excellent German imports. A couple of them have blown me away.

Sünner Kölsch. An appellation of the specialty ales brewed in Cologne, Germany, Kölsch beers are pale, light-bodied ales.
Sünner is one of the classic examples of the style. Light gold with a big, pillow-like head, it’s slightly fruity and dry with a beautiful nobel hop aroma. A subtle and great beer.

Julius Echter Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel. A perfect, dark wheat beer. Hazy and deep, deep red, its caramel and banana notes (produced by the yeast) create an absolutely delicious combination of flavors. I could drink this beer every day and never tire of it.

There’s more I’d like to include, but I’m out of time. I just noticed something that I want to point out, though. I didn’t once mention the big-box, corporate stores that, until recently, have dominated the retail beer market here. It just worked out that way. The game has moved beyond those places. The local option has grown significantly in Oshkosh. I’m liking that.

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