Big Beard Brewsconsin Beer Review # 6 – Zywiec, Poland’s Number 1 Beer

zywiecZywiec (Gee-vee-ettes) pours a crisp golden color and omits a citrusy lemon zest aroma. The beer itself has a cereal grain taste with a medium to thin body and has a medium bitterness as well. Moderate amounts of noble hops in the flavor profile give this beer a little bit of a spiciness. The beer finishes dry and moderately bitter.

Got the beer as a gift from good friends, one of whom is from Poland, thus I do not know how to rate this beer by price. For what it is, it is good, but not normally my style.

My Beer Advocate Rating 3.4

My Rate Beer Rating 3.3

2012 Big Beard Brewsconsin Beer Awards

I’ve been re-Tweeting “best of” beer lists a lot lately and figured it was time I made my own awards. With that being said, here they are.

 

MOMMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT

LAKE LOUIE

WARPED SPEED SCOTCH ALE

warped

The Warped Speed Scotch Ale is one of those beers that not only taste great every time, but one which also really packs a punch. It has been a staple of my diet for a few years now and I suggest it at work to patrons who “don’t have to do anything for the rest of the day”. Brewmaster Tom Porter easily could have won awards for “Nicest Guy in Wisconsin Brewing” or “Brewmaster with the Coolest Guitar Collection,” but the Warped Speed Scotch Ale is truly his most generous gift to those of us who like a little extra bang in our brew without having to fork over extra cash for a beer that only comes in four-packs. Thanks Tommy!

HONORABLE MENTION: CENTRAL WATERS – SATIN SOLSTACE

 

GATEWAY BEER

NEW GLARUS

SPOTTED COW

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Finally, a beer that I can drink with my mom! Once Miller Genuine Draft Light switched to the 64 calorie version my mom needed a new brand and found solace in Spotted Cow. She has since branched out to a few other craft and imported beers, but I will always remember Cow as the beer which eased her transition to the wonderful world of craft brewing. I recommend this to all beer-curious people at the bar as a good craft beer to try to get their feet wet. It must be working because it is one of the few craft beers that regularly outsells macros in certain pockets of Wisconsin.

HONORABLE MENTION: CAPITAL SUPPER CLUB

 

WISCONSINNOVATION

LAKEFRONT

WISCONSINITE

Wisconsinite-sticker_NoDie

Lakefront took local ingredient sourcing to a whole level with Wisonsinite. Not only are the water, grain and hops all from Wisconsin, so too is the yeast which was developed by Jeremy King from Northern Brewer. Lakefront says “their new strain is believed be to the only North American-grown yeast in commercial use today as well as the first native brewing yeast from Wisconsin.” And to top it off, the Summer Weiss is a very refreshing and tasty summer beer.

HONORABLE MENTION : CAPITAL – ETERNAL FLAME

 

GROUP HUG

COLLABORATION

COMMON THREAD

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Everything about this beer was great. A collaboration between six brewmasters (Tom Porter – Lake Louie, Scott Manning – Vintage, Kirby Nelson – Capital, Rob Lobriglio – Great Dane, Page Buchannan – House of Brews, and Mark Knobel -Grumpy Troll), the Common Thread was a great-tasting example of a California Common with wonderful marketing and a brilliant logo that really made me appreciate what Wisconsin Craft Brewing is all about. None of these guys ever say anything bad about each other, and in fact work together more than the public might be aware. The mindset is not every craft brewery for themselves, but every craft brewery together against the InBevs and SABMillers of the world.

HONORABLE MENTION: MIDWEST HOPS AND BARLEY COOPERATIVE – FIVE BEER RELEASE from SPRECHER, CENTRAL WATERS, LAKEFRONT, BULL FALLS, SOUTH SHORE

 

OUTSIDE THE BOX

ONE BARREL BREWING CO

MAD TOWN BROWN (Chai Spiced Brown Ale)

OBBC_k_fWith a touch of lactose for a creamy sweetness coupled with fresh homemade Chai Tea Spices, this beer was the most interesting brew I tried in Wisconsin. I am not normally a fan of Chai Tea and honestly thought I would hate the beer, but I have got to give credit to Dan and Peter who really put together a winner here. A must-try if you are in the Madison area.

*For full disclosure, I do work at the One Barrel Brewing Co, but I had nothing to do with the formulation of this beer. I just appreciate its uniqueness.

HONORABLE MENTION : NEW GLARUS – SERENDIPITY

 

GO BIG OR GO HOME

ALE ASYLUM

NEW BREWERY LOCATION

Ale-Asylum

Ale Asylum’s $8 million brewery expansion is probably the biggest move in Wisconsin brewing last year. The new location is beautiful, with tons of space to expand, windows where patrons can watch beer being made and packaged, and, oh yeah, it’s really close to my house. More space coupled with efficient bottling and kegging lines ensures better quality and easier distribution which will allow Ale Asylum to enter markets in entire state of Wisconsin in one fell swoop. With quality product and incredible branding, I foresee Ale Asylum becoming a household name in all of Wisconsin and potentially on a larger scale in a very short amount of time.

HONORABLE MENTION: KIRBY NELSON LEAVES CAPITAL TO START WISCONSIN BREWING CO.

 

¡MUY CALIENTE!

SWEET MULLETS

JORGE

mullets

This jalapeno ale is the most drinkable I have had to date. It has the taste of jalapenos without being to spicy to enjoy and entire pint. Ordinarily, I would never had considered such a category for an award since pepper beers are often too peppery for my pallet, but Sweet Mullets really nailed this one. If you are ever in Oconomowoc, stop by the brewery and give Jorge a taste and tell them Brewsconsin sent ya.

HONORABLE MENTION: GREAT DANE – TRI PEPPER PILS

 

MODEL CITIZEN

HOUSE OF BREWS

COMMUNITY SUPPORTED BREWERY

House of Brews Logo

With CSA’s being all the rage these days I love the idea that House of Brews was created with a similar business model. The idea of creating a community of beer enthusiasts that all share in the bounty of brewing through a subscription system is one of a kind as far as I know (didn’t bother to Google it though). Page Buchannan built House of Brews as a place where not only can customers drink the beer, but talk about beer and have some influence on what is brewed. As a brewer and beer-lover, I like the idea that we no longer have to sit at home and drink whatever the brewery decides to make, I like the idea that I can “subscribe” to a beer or series of beers, and I sincerely like Page and House of Brews and appreciate that they bring something new to the table.

HONORABLE MENTION: ONE BARREL – NANO BREWERY

 

FAVORITE WISCONSIN BEERS BY STYLE

AMERICAN PALE ALE: NEW GLARUS – MOON MAN

AMERICAN IPA: POTOSISNAKE HOLLOW

IMPERIAL IPA: ALE ASYLUM – SATISFACTION JACKSIN

AMBER: SPRECHERAMBER

RED: LAKEFRONT – FIXED GEAR

PORTER: O’SONITE TRAIN

STOUT: HOUSE OF BREWS – SNUG OATMEAL STOUT

IMPERIAL STOUT: SPRECHER – RUSSIAN IMPERIAL

LAGER: LAKEFRONT – HOLIDAY SPICE

FRUIT BEER: VINTAGE – RASPBERRY HIBISCUS SAISON

Big Beard Brewsconsin Beer Review # 4 – Sand Creek Weizenbock/Sprecher Dopple Bock

It was a fairly warm day by Wisconsin standards maxing out at a high of 29 degrees Fahrenheit, but still cold by my standards. The beers that jumped off the shelf and into my cart were a Dopple Bock from Sprecher and a Weizen Bock from Sand Creek and they certainly warmed me up as I did this beer review. Interestingly, neither brewery named the beers. They merely titled them after their style.

Anyway, here is my second video tasting/review. Watch as I stumble over my words and, once again, find a cat named Seamus sneaking his way into the spotlight.

SPRECHER BREWING CO – DOPPLE BOCK

Sprecher Dopple Bock pours a deep copper/amber and has a thin tan head which dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma is sweet with dark fruit and a bit of alcohol (not bad). Dark fruit continues into the flavor profile and is complimented nicely by a nutty sweetness. The beer finishes sweet and fast with dryness lingering on the back of the tongue. There is a slight alcohol warmth which goes great on a cold evening. If I ice-fished, this might be the beer I take along.Sand Creek and Sprecher

Price was great @ $6.49/4

My Beer Advocate Rating 4.35

My Rate Beer Rating 4.1

SAND CREEK – WEIZEN BOCK

I was glad to see this beer at the liquor store because there are not a lot of commercially available Weizen-Bocks available and finding one from Wisconsin was a treat.

The beer poured clear with a small brownish head. It had a bit of banana in the aroma and flavor with a hint of cloves. I usually like Weizen-Bocks to have a bit more of that characteristic, but this one was decent. The beer had a good level of sweetness and tasted of dark fruits with a hint of chocolate. What I really like about this beer is how it made me feel warm inside without being hot. A great treat on a Wisconsin winter day!

Price was good @ $8.99/4

My Beer Advocate Rating N/A

My Rate Beer Rating 3.7

Beer Review # 3 – Ale Asylum Ballistic/Dark Horse Scotty Karate (at Open Mic)

I’m sitting at Open Mic which is hosted by my friend Phil. I’m drinking an Ale Asylum Ballistic and getting up the nerve to play my version of Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” in honor of my friend Benji’s Birthday. The beer is hoptacular and my mind is at ease. I get on stage and nail about 90 percent of the 40 percent of the original song I am doing and the crowd cheers–Likely because the two minute and 27 second song has concluded. Anyhow, I got off the stage (after singing my cover of “Smell Your Dick” by Riskay) and went back to the beer cooler only to find a Dark Horse Scotty Karate discount-priced at only $3 a bottle.

#winning #happybirthdaybenji


ALE ASYLUM – BALLISTIC

The hop aroma and flavor of this brew are a great example of a well-hopped American-IPA. What I enjoy most about the brew is that Ale Asylum brews it with only one hop variety (Amarillo I believe) so one can really appreciate and understand what that hop has to offer. Hopalicious and Satisfaction Jacksin are the same way, but with different hops.

Price is mid-range @ $9.99/6

My Beer Advocate Rating 4.26

My Rate Beer Rating 4.2

DARK HORSE – SCOTTY KARATE

A well-done and highly bitter strong Scotch Ale with good alcohol content and warmth and a great balance and sweet dry finish. I really enjoy this beer and would call it one of my favorite Scotch Ales on the planet. Also in contention are Old Chub and Dirty Bastard. Scotty has a bit more balls than the others.

Bar price was great! – $3/1

My Beer Advocate Rating 4.23

My Rate Beer Rating 4.0

*This blog was powered by Sierra Nevada Celebration and a homebrewed APA that isn’t all that great

Sprecher Brewing Introduces Hard Root Beer

Probably about seven years ago or so, my cousin Josh and I went on a tour at the Sprecher Brewery because I was writing a story for the Milwaukee Alcoholmanac…and because we both really like beer. At the end of the tour, Josh asked the tour guide if they ever thought about making a fermented version of their world famous Root Beer. He didn’t answer the question. What he did do was go down to the basement soon returning with a keg of something labeled XX.

Jason Fredrickson, the guide who first introduced me to the XX Sprecher Hard Root Beer

Jason Fredrickson, the guide who first introduced me to the XX Sprecher Hard Root Beer

Sure enough, Sprecher had been experimenting with the fermented root beer for some time and would occasionally have it on tap in their tasting room. We were impressed by the brew and it went to the back of my mind until Josh posted this link on Facebook today:

Sprecher Brewing to unveil new Hard Root Beer

Sure enough, after all these years they have finally decided to package and market what they are calling Hard Root Beer, but what to me will always be the basement secret known as the XX. The Baraboo News Republic article quotes Sprecher president Jeff Hamilton as saying “We are being very cautious to make sure that there is a distinction between our regular root beer and this rather adult version,” he said. “We’ve made sure the bottle looks completely different than our root beer bottle. It’s a different size, and the labels look different.”

I am not normally a fan of sweet malt beverages–girly drinks if you will–but I really remember this one being good and I will certainly be reviewing it for Brewsconsin as soon as it becomes available here in Madison, WI. Thanks to Sprecher for always making good beer and for being the first brewery I remember touring as a kid. Apparently my Cub Scout Leader didn’t realize Sprecher made regular beer in addition to their famous root beer and took about six of us seven-year-olds to tour the brewery back in 1990. To this day, it is the only brewery I have toured in both its past and present locations.

Cheers!

How Many 12oz Beers Fit Into a Standard Ultimate Frisbee?

I like this video because it combines my two favorite things: Frisbee’s and Beers.

I’ve been playing Ultimate on and off for the past seven years and the question of how many beers fit into an Ultimate Disc comes up once in a while so I thought I would do 30 seconds of internet research to find out the actual answer. Thanks to novatan on the YouTubes for getting to the bottom of this so I didn’t have to. I probably would have used beer, but his way is much more practical. Enjoy!

Big Beard Brewsconsin Beer Review # 2 – Goose Island Sofie and Pepe Nero

GOOSE ISLAND 

sofie_2010SOFIE

Sofie poured a slightly hazy yellow like the second pee on a hazy post-drinking morning. The head was white and persistent. The aroma was of citrus and wild yeast and was very inviting. There was some zesty orange peel and a hint of vanilla in the finish. The finish was sweet and dry.

Price was okay, but not great. $10/4

My Beer Advocate Rating 4.18

My Rate Beer Rating 4.1

pepenero_full_2011PEPE NERO

Pepe Nero poured a deep copper color with a resilient off-white head. It was darker than I expected from a Saison, but taking note that it contained black malt I adjusted my expectations as best as I could. The aroma was roasty, nutty and a bit citrusy. The flavor was peppery and nutty with just a hint of citrus and a bit of chocolate. Overall, the beer was god, but not quite what I am looking for in a Siason. Keep in mind, it did win a Gold Medal as a Siason so what do I know?

Price was okay, but not great. $10/4

My Beer Advocate Rating 3.78

My Rate Beer Rating 3.7

Big Beard Brewsconsin Beer Review # 1 – Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale is a well balanced American IPA with tons of citrusy hop aroma and flavor and a good amount of bitterness. It generally has that Sierra Nevada taste which all of their APA/IPA’s like Pale Ale, Torpedo, and Ruthless Rye have, but I think this is the most aromatic of the bunch and it kind of has that piney zest that makes me think of Christmas. In comparison, Ruthless is a bit dryer, Torpedo the most bitter, and the Pale the lightest and easy-drinkingest.

sierra-nevada-celebration09

I really love this beer.

I have considered this beer my most anticipated seasonal for as long as I can remember. Price is good. $7.99/6

My Beer Advocate Rating 4.25

My Rate Beer Rating 3.9