Tag Archive | "Beyond Busch Light"

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A beer that would even make a turkey hop (or gobble)for joy

Posted on 06 November 2008 by Zachary Davis

As I recently stepped out of the bar to the freezing cold weather of 2 a.m. Milwaukee, I started to realize that it is almost Thanksgiving. The holidays bring fun times, good food, bloated stomachs and many wonderful things like funny tasting beer. Every year more and more breweries around the country provide us with somewhat spicy beer for our holiday palates to enjoy.

The popular kid in this class is Oktoberfest-style beers. They usually come with a nice amber tone and combine flavor like apple, spices and caramel with a large helping of malt. Just about every major brewery under the sun begins releasing their Oktoberfest around the middle of September and you can still find it on the shelves in late November, if not year around. Even though that bar that starts with C and ends in affrey’s has ended its sale of Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest, it should be considered one of the best of the light bodied Oktoberfest variations around. For a darker and heavier twist with a little bit more spice, try the Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen. It will probably require a trip to the better-stocked beer retailers but will be well worth it.

Lately though, some companies have decided to differentiate themselves with a staple on the Thanksgiving Day table. Companies like Blue Moon Brewery and Lakefront Brewery, just up the road from campus, have been infusing beer with an obscene amount of pumpkin flavor. Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale is heavily flavored with cinnamon and pumpkin flavors that represent everything your grandmother’s pumpkin pie does. The spice of the beer comes first and sticks with the taste all the way through the pumpkin flavoring until it ends with nice sweet undertones.

Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager is quite different however. They have taken pumpkin beer to a whole other level by distilling loads and loads of pumpkin into the beer. The only way to imagine this beer is to envision the mixing of a liquefied pumpkin pie with your basic American lager. The lager is not bringing much besides alcohol, and the pumpkin pie is coming in fists a-flying.

The only other offering I have is Leinenkugel’s Apple Spice, which just like its name says is a nice combination of apple aromas with a solid bite throughout. I realize that many of these beers sound like an unnecessary diversion from your normal daily routine, but I would highly recommend putting these beers in your refrigerator. Trust me, once you have had them you will proudly put the bottle caps in your collection on the ceiling!

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Three moods, three beers: A beer to add hop to whatever mood you’re in

Posted on 09 October 2008 by Zachary Davis

Every day presents a different opportunity to try new things. Mostly, I spend quite a bit of my days thinking about types of beer. The best part about beer is that there are so many to try, and with so many beers I thought I would share a few of my favorites with all of you. Here’s the twist though–I am going to try and match my favorite beers with the mood they most suit. One mood I am not going to try and match a beer with is anger because usually beer plus anger equals a hole in the wall

My all time favorite beer is Samuel Adams Black Lager. It is a truly full-bodied beer with strong, smoky and molasses flavors. It also finishes in your mouth with just a tinge of coffee and caramel if you are paying attention. This beer suits any person who is beaten down and exhausted. Its strong flavors will take your mind off of all the stresses of a high impact inner tube water polo game any day of the week.

I usually try to avoid giddy people whenever possible, but as giddy people do drink as well, I figure they need a beer to bring them down a notch. Since this person will likely be bouncing off the walls and giggling, I think they need something that will anchor them to the floor. New Belgium Brewery’s 1554 has enough flavor and body to put a giddy person in a chair in 10 seconds flat. 1554 has a very strong coffee and molasses taste. Although it is a beer that is sometimes hard to find in stores, this is a fantastic beer and is well worth how much effort you will have to go through to track it down.

Since both the previous beers were dark full bodied beers with complex, rich tastes, I thought confused people should get their beer next. Confused people need something straight-forward and simple. Something easy to order with a refreshing taste should get their minds back on track. I think a Miller Brewery staple and one of my favorite domestics is just the thing. Miller Genuine Draft should help those poor souls who find themselves in Philosophy class (and it will help the time go by faster too).

I recognize I only touched on three moods but honestly this article is about beer and not feelings. Beer can make you go crazy or it can sweep away all your anxieties, and that is really what it is all about.

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Spotted Cow isn’t all it’s hopped up to be

Posted on 24 September 2008 by Zachary Davis

Sorry folks but Spotted Cow is just not that good.

I consider myself to have a very open mind when it comes to people’s taste in beer. Obviously I will never endorse things as crummy as Bud Light, but above that I can at least come to terms with the fact that people like different things. I am, however, more and more outraged at how often people rant and rave about New Glarus Spotted Cow.

It is one hundred percent mediocrity. It is a slightly sweet beer with subtle hints of citrus, mostly lemon and metallic undertones. Absolutely nothing about this beer makes me or anyone I know just want to stand up and scream from the rooftops. There is also the price issue: without including the cost I would give Spotted Cow a solid B-. Including the cost I would lower it down to a straight C.

There are just so many beers that deal with these flavors in a richer and smoother fashion. Blue Moon, for example, includes a great balance of hops and citrus, and maintains a similar heaviness as Spotted Cow.

If you like the sweet aspects, try the cheaper and more refreshing Leinenkugel’s Nude Beach. Nude Beach maintains strong flavor with less body than the overhyped Spotted Cow.
Now if you are looking to just improve your tastes in beer there are a ton of great options at a similar price.

Since we are fast approaching fall, there is no reason not to indulge in the great variations of October fest beer. Sam Adams, Leinenkugel’s and many other breweries make great German interpretations, and since they only hit the shelves around this time I would highly recommend you seize the opportunity. Going along with other easy-to-find beers with a lot more flavor, try any of the Hacker-Pschorr variations. These beers are heavier than Spotted Cow but are packed with so much more flavor, and the aromas are second to none.

We all go to school in one of the greatest beer cities in the world. Numerous restaurants around town brew fantastic beers, and there are three famous breweries all within just a couple of miles. Let us put down the mediocre beers and start drinking something truly worthwhile.

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Summer Shandy captures the essence of the season

Posted on 10 September 2008 by Remington Tonar

With the arrival of the school year we pause to reflect on our summer experiences. We’re sure to miss the leisure of not having class and the relaxation of a day at the beach but another summer has gone by. As summer yields to fall we must also take a moment to remember Wisconsin’s favorite seasonal brew: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

I apologize if you’re a fan of Wisconsin’s other popular summer brew, New Glarus Totally Naked. I must confess I think that Totally Naked is the superior beer of these two seasonal brews, but Summer Shandy better captures the essence of the summer season.

Its light lager base provides the perfect backdrop for the refreshing natural lemonade flavoring infused into the beer, providing a gentle citrus flavor while still maintaining its status as a beer.

I clarify that Summer Shandy is still identifiable as a beer due to the lack of beeriness in its sister drink, Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss, which compromises its beer taste for a strong berry flavor, making it more of a wine cooler than a beer. Summer Shandy, while lacking a distinctive flavor of either hops or malt, still manages to convey a very mild bitterness beneath the citrus taste.

Although great beers have a unique and prominent taste that features either malt or hops, like the re-introduced Schlitz which is a great example of the old malt beers that made Milwaukee famous (although I’m told by beer connoisseurs older than myself that it’s not quite as good as the original), Summer Shandy makes a name for itself by being a seasonal beer that doesn’t strive to be a great beer, but a great drink.

If you have not had the opportunity to indulge yourself in the Shandy, I would suggest hunting a bottle down before it goes off the market for the fall. If you find that you’re too late to pick up some Summer Shandy, then keep it on your list of things to buy next summer.

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Beyond Busch Light: Kaplan Hat Hefeweizen

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Benjamin Juarez

“Beer is relative,” said the great philosopher. “How so?” asked his disciple. “Because when cold it refreshes; when warm it relaxes; when had as a dessert, it satisfies; when complemented with a flavor similar to what it exhibits, its flavor changes.” The disciple pondered on such a profound statement, and decided to proceed with the conversation. “I need to know how the taste changes when it is complemented with a similar flavor,” asked he. The great philosopher nodded his head, and with a smirk handed his disciple an ancient manuscript of this beer article.

The Beer: On a recent road trip to Des Moines, Iowa, I found myself enjoying the sights of a brewery located on the city’s nightlife strip — Court Ave. Brewery. Here, I decided to introduce people to a beer exclusive to the state, and if you are in the area, you might want to check this brew out. It is called Kaplan Hat Hefeweizen. Yes, it is a hefeweizen for you fans of this style of brew.

The Color: She’s blonde, and she loves to be so. She becomes that way because of the strength of the wheat over the malt, though it is a 50:50 blend. She is a bit less cloudy than her sisters when it comes to being a hefeweizen, a little clearer, but she stands on her own with her color.

The Taste: This is where things get interesting; where the blonde becomes her own “multi-personalitied” self. As I tasted this well-brewed potable, I noticed her tastes changed. Cold, she was refreshing like a mid-afternoon swim on a hot summer day. The citrus flavors, paired with a lemon wedge, were amplified. The yeast used in the beer produces chemicals that bring about other flavors, hence by adding the lemon we amplified its natural citrus taste. As I took time tasting her, I realized that as she warmed up in my hand she became more of a relaxing dessert beer. I felt daring, so I decided to add a couple of slices of bananas to my second pint. Not a bad idea, it exemplified the fruity palate of this style brew. Perhaps you can find a more odd combination? Rating: 8

On its own: The beer on its own is good, but it cannot compare to the things one can do with the beer as far as experimenting with the taste itself. I consider it a bit watered down until you begin to taste the different flavors inside of it.   Rating: 7

With a burger: I would say drink it cold with a nice juicy burger. Compliment it with a nice, large lemon wedge.  Rating: 7.5

With a nice dinner: A moderately priced dinner may work well with this brew, because of the hefeweizen’s versatility when dealing with sweet or sour notes. Rating: 8

With a date: A great beer for picking up while on a date with that girl that just makes you go crazy. While sitting together in her living room you just have a pint or two, while you tell a few jokes and listen to Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child.” Rating: 8.5 (this is what you make of it)

Final Opinion: This beer is made to be played with. Try it in the many forms I explained above, or discover other ways that tickle your fancy. That said, I would recommend picking up a jug or two of this stuff if you ever visit Des Moines, Iowa.

Where Available: 515-282-BREW

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Oh, the beers of Summer

Posted on 25 April 2007 by Steve Heiderer

The school year is ending and summer is almost here. There is nothing better than a cold beer on a hot summer night. Unfortunately, many people get stuck in habits and drink the same old thing. Instead of having another Corona, try something else at your next cookout. I have four suggestions: New Glarus Totally Naked, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, Bell’s Oberon Ale and Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale.

Wisconsin’s own New Glarus Brewing Co. produces a variety of summer seasonal beers. One of my favorites is called Totally Naked. The suggestive name refers to the beer’s character. Totally Naked is beer in its basic and pure form. The aroma and the flavor are dominated by malts. The beer goes down smoothly with a small bit of hop bitterness detectable at the end. Totally Naked is a fairly light beer that’s very drinkable. It is the perfect choice for casual beer drinkers. This variety from New Glarus is available from May through September.

If you are in the mood for an import, I would suggest the Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse. The Hefe Weizen is a German-style wheat beer. This beer is golden and cloudy. The cloudiness is from the unfiltered yeast remaining in the beer. The aroma is a combination of sweet yeast and fruit. The flavor combination reminds me of a banana. Hefe Weizens are often served with a lemon wedge. Some people believe that the lemon ruins the flavor of the beer. The lemon will definitely alter the flavor. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing depends on personal preference, and I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Bell’s Oberon Ale is produced by Michigan’s Kalamazoo Brewing Co. The Oberon Ale is an American Pale Wheat Ale, the domestic cousin of the German Hefe Weizen. It has a cloudy, orange-amber color. Poured properly, the Oberon Ale will have a thick head. The light aroma is dominated by citrus and wheat. It reminds me of fresh oranges and lemons. The fruit flavors are crisp and sweet. The background flavors add spice, yeast and grain to the experience. Oberon Ale is complex, but definitely drinkable and refreshing.

If you are in the mood for something exotic, I would suggest the Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale. Rice and fruit dominate the aroma and flavor of this Japanese ale. The flavors are subtle, cool and crisp. Light hops and berries are detectable before the wheat-like finish. Be mindful that the Red Rice Ale has slightly higher alcohol content than the other reviewed beers, but this beer is so smooth that you probably will not notice it.

This summer, don’t be afraid to try something new when you are looking for a cool drink on a warm evening.

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Brewery Tours

Posted on 13 February 2007 by Steve Heiderer

A well-stocked store shelf or a long beer menu can be intimidating to beer novices. Sometimes they aren’t sure what to buy or what types of beer are best. Luckily, with so many breweries in the area, Milwaukee has many opportunities for the new beer drinker to learn about beer, the brewing process and beer varieties. And, even more luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite brewery tours:

1. Miller Brewery is a Milwaukee institution. Located on 4251 W. State St., Miller offers tours Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The tour is free but tends to fill up fast. I recommend arriving early to guarantee a spot.

The tour includes a video about the history of Miller, and visits to the brew house, the packaging center and the Miller caves. The tour ends at either the Miller Inn or the beer garden for beer samples. Expect two or three Miller and Leinenkugel products. The Miller tour is perfect for those interested in learning how a large brewery operates.

2. In contrast, the Sprecher Brewery tour will show you how a smaller microbrewery makes its beer. Located at 701 W. Glendale Ave. in Glendale, Sprecher runs tours on Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Because spots are fairly limited for the tour, Sprecher asks that you call ahead and make a reservation.

This $3 tour is well worth your money. The tour guide takes you through the entire process from brewing to bottling. The tour ends at Sprecher’s indoor beer garden for a sampling from a list of up to ten beers. Sprecher lets you take your small tasting glass home as a gift.

3. My favorite local brewery tour is the Lakefront Brewery tour. Located at 1872 N. Commerce St., Lakefront is a microbrewery that has been producing a wide variety of crafts brews since 1987. Tours are Monday through Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., every half hour. There are also 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. tours on Friday for diners at Lakefront’s excellent fish fry.

For only $5, you get a tour of the brewery, four beer samples and either a Lakefront pint glass or $2 off of anything in the gift shop. Quite the deal if you ask me. During my last visit, Lakefront had five beers on tap to sample, including one that had never been bottled. Lakefront is unique because the tour begins and ends at the tap. You get to drink beer before, during and after the tour.

Brewery tours are excellent opportunities to try new beers without spending too much money. The tours also teach you about the brewing process and different beer varieties. Stop by any of these local breweries for a great afternoon.

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