scott biely | what i like about brew | jan. 2019
Welcome to the first installment of What I Like About Brew! Gone is the merry of the holidays, and the only thing more depressing than reminiscing about the Packer season is taking a look at the daily “feels like" temperature. That's right we are smack dab in the middle of winter. The days are short and for many, both ends of the daily commute are completely lacking sunlight.
From a craft beer drinker's point of view, winter makes for a wonderful selection of beer. Stouts and porters get their time in the sun and higher alcohol, “boozy" beers bring with them welcomed warmth. Citrus fruits step aside and ingredients like cocoa nibs, coffee and winter spices take center stage. Here are a few beers I've really enjoyed so far this winter.
Ahnapee Brewing (Algoma, Wis.)
Chocolate Milk Stout
5.5 percent ABV
Although stouts and porters are not just for winter, there is something beautiful about a nice bodied dark beer when temperatures begin to plummet. Two Stall Chocolate Milk Stout from Ahnapee Brewery is as reliable as beer gets. Roasted cocoa nibs and lactose sugars give this stout a light sweetness and creamy mouthfeel. Plus it's named for a two-stall garage which they transformed into their taproom.
The beer pours a deep dark brown with a nice tan head. Its aroma is full of chocolate and vanilla, and taking a drink instantly reminds me of why I like it so much. Two Stall gives you the hints of cocoa and vanilla you expect but is not overly sweet. If you are a person who has never enjoyed Ahnapee's Two Stall, do yourself a favor and give this great beer a try. It's the definition of a drinkable stout.
Sour Winter Gose
Pearl Street Brewing (LaCrosse, Wis.)
Sour Ale Brewed with Alaskan Spruce Tips and Bergamot Essential Oil
5.0 percent ABV
The Gose (pronounced Goes-uh) style of beer is normally one that screams summer. A light refreshing sour beer on a hot summer day really hits the spot. With Pearl Street's Sour Winter Gose, they have taken the style and made it a winter treat. I personally have never gnawed on Alaskan spruce tips and didn't even know what Bergamot was until Google told me (it's a rare Italian orange), but I really enjoyed the flavors they imparted on this beer.
I officially retract my statement from earlier that with winter beers “citrus fruits step aside." The nose on this gose is filled with citrus. Grapefruit is the aroma that instantly resonates with me and the taste follows suit. The Alaskan spruce tips are perfectly subtle and don't try to dominate any aspect of this offering. Sour Winter Gose is very light and refreshing and definitely breaks my mold of what a winter beer is.
Tyranena Brewing Company (Lake Mills, Wis.)
American Brown Ale Partially Aged in Bourbon Barrels
5.8 percent ABV (Before Barrel Aging)
Some of the most sought-after and limited beers to hit the market in winter are barrel-aged beers. Oftentimes, these beers bring with them not only increased alcohol content, but also an increased price tag. That's where Rocky's Revenge from Tyranena Brewing Company sets itself apart. This bourbon barrel-aged brown ale is value priced the same as Tyranena's everyday lineup. They make this possible by barrel-aging only a portion of the batch and blending it with a non-barrel-aged portion. The result is very nice.
This beer pours a deep brown with a nice frothy head. Even though only a portion is barrel-aged, the smell and taste of bourbon comes through perfectly. The bourbon taste combined with the nuttiness of a brown ale makes for a delicious brew. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, bourbon barrel-aged beer, available year-round; Tyranena's Rocky's Revenge is a beer for you.
My name is Scott. I'm a husband, father of three and like most of civilization, enjoy beer. From light to dark, stout to IPA, a well-crafted beer will always hold a place in my heart. In the ever-growing craft beer world, the selections are endless. With each season comes another wave of beers brewed to pair perfectly with everything the time of year has to offer. What I Like About Brew! showcases a few beers from my favorite breweries that go hand in hand with that particular season. Whether an old favorite or a brand new offering, hopefully this series introduces you to a beer you'll fall in love with.