Monday, August 5, 2019

Introducing the Oshkosh Heritage Series

On Tuesday, August 6, at 5 pm, Bare Bones Brewery will release the first beer in its new Heritage Series, a collection of beers celebrating Oshkosh's enduring history as a center for brewing. The series begins with Wilhelm's Beer. It’s a classic, American lager brewed from the recipe used to make Peoples Beer in the 1950s and '60s. The recipe was supplied by the late Wilhelm Kohlhoff, a brewer at Peoples Brewing in Oshkosh from 1953 until 1968.
Wilhelm Kohlhoff
The Heritage Series beers will be available in the taproom at Bare Bones and each pint sold will be accompanied by a commemorative postcard such as the one seen above. The flipside of each card will detail the backstory of the beer and its place within our local beer history.

The Heritage Series
Jody Cleveland, head brewer at Bare Bones, and I will be collaborating on this series of beers over the coming months. We have approximately 18 beers queued up. The oldest of them has its roots in the early 1850s. Our goal is to present beers that showcase the breadth of Oshkosh brewing history from the mid-1800s to the late 1960s.

The recipes for these beers are derived from research I've done over the past 10 years. In some cases, we'll be working from comprehensive recipes that came directly from the brewhouse where the beer was originally made. For other beers, we'll be building up recipes based upon brewery inventories, brewer's notes, brewing practices employed by the brewery, descriptions of the beer, and analysis of the style from the period when the beer was made. In each case, we're confident we'll be able to create a valid representation of the beers we intend to recreate.

That said, there are certain limiting factors that need to be acknowledged in any historical recreation of a beer. Malts changed significantly over the time span we intend to cover and have continued to evolve in the years since. Hops have undergone a similar transformation. For example, cluster hops – a hop favored by 19th and 20th century Oshkosh brewers – is today a much stronger hop in terms of its bittering potential than the cluster hops used by the Horn and Schwalm Brewery of Oshkosh in the 1870s. Equipment is another factor. We won't be fermenting these beers in pitch-lined wooden tubs like Jacob Konrad did in Oshkosh in 1849. But there are ways to work within these constraints. And our beacon will always be flavor. We're striving to recreate the flavors of these earlier beers.

The plan is to produce these beers in small batches. Most, if not all of them, will be draft only offerings available exclusively in the Bare Bones taproom.

In advance of each beer, I'll have a post here exploring the background of the beer and how we approached the recipe. For Wilhelm's Beer, that information is already available HERE.

The story of our local brewing history is one thing, but actually getting to taste that history can make it come alive in a way no retelling can accomplish. Jody and I are hoping to reanimate that history one pint at a time.


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