Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oshkosh Best Ale at Fratellos

We don’t see many English Ales around Oshkosh. Bass and Newcastle are all over the place, but both of those beers have grown into mass-market brands and in the process have shed much of the character and subtlety that make the best English Ales so enjoyable. For the time being, at least, we’ve got a better option. Fratellos in Oshkosh is currently pouring a beer they’ve named Oshkosh Best and it’s an excellent example of a classic style of English Ale, the Premium Bitter.

There’s a tendency among American brewers who dabble with English-style Bitters to get hung up on the bitter aspect of the beer. They often wind up blowing away the malt component of the brew with an overdose of hops. The brewers at Fox River Brewing haven’t fallen into that trap. They’ve made a wonderfully drinkable ale that deftly balances its tasty maltiness with a pleasing bitterness. The beer pours to a deep gold under a creamy, white head. Stand it next to a pint of Fuller’s London Pride and you’ll see that their hues are identical. The aroma is of fresh, grassy hops mingled with a mellow, milk-like sweetness. That’s exactly what the beer delivers, too. The smooth malt character hints at toffee before giving way to a well-placed bitterness that doesn’t overwhelm the flavors which proceed it. The beer finishes with earthy, fresh-hop notes that linger on the palate.

The Brew Board at Fratellos
If you love hops, but aren’t looking to be bitten by bitterness this is a beer you shouldn’t miss. I’ve been drinking a lot of big IPAs this summer and the first growler I had of Oshkosh Best reminded me of what brought me to beer in the first place. This brew is proof that a great beer needn’t clobber you with out-sized flavors that overwhelm the palate to be exceptional.

If you’d like to take a look under the hood of Oshkosh Best, go here to check out Brewmaster Kevin Bowen’s notes.

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