Belgian Style White Beer
Mill-e-wa-kay is Algonquin for “the good land”, but Wisconsin means beer – it’s a fact. Belgium is also known for its great white and wheat beers, so this combination must be good, right? We will find out. Well, I’ll find out – it’s a perk of the job.
The beer pours clear, but with a slight agitation of the bottle, the sediment from the active yeast spills into the glass and clouds it up. The color is a thin straw gold, with a yellow translucency like lemon pulp. The head is crisp white but settles down quickly despite huge bubbles that fly up the glass.
The aroma is slightly musty. The yeast comes through with an odor of damp sand, though some subtle citrus notes – mostly lemon – come through. The mouthfeel starts off surprisingly full, but thins out a bit. Coriander spice does not really tart things up much, though there is a bit of a lemon sorbet feel. There is an unexpected but pleasant creaminess that shows up at the end of the swallow.
Nothing mind-blowing here, nor is it particularly wheat-y, but it’s another easy sipper from Lakefront.
Chameleon Brewing Co.
Hop on Top
Labeled as an “Aroma Hop Ale”, Hop on Top uses Willamette, Tettnanger, and Cascade, but Chameleon doesn’t boast that this is a big hop beer. Tetts are Noble hops, but both Willamette and Cascade are Pacific Northwest varieties that usually make big IPAs. However, at only 11 IBUs, this beer is not meant to be a hopheads delight.
As I pour it, the beer offers up little in the way of a head – even a glugged pour yields little more than a wispy cirrus cloud. That soon evaporates, too. The clarity is excellent and slow but sparse carbonation ascends lackadaisically up the glass.
The color is polished bamboo or burnished gold, with a sheen that appears to have a hazy quality, though it doesn’t actually affect the clarity.
The nose is very floral, with lavender and honeysuckle rising above sourdough malt and maple sugar cookies.
The mouthfeel is pretty good, with any hint of thinness quickly filled out by a surprisingly present effervescence. This is actually a very refreshing ale. Flavor emerges slowly and subtly – lemon seltzer and water crackers, along with a faint bit of parsley. Some very mild chewiness, but this beer is missing something. Certainly, it very closely resembles a proper English pale but there’s no thrill. I hate to be negative, and since I lean towards bigger (and usually hoppier) brews, I would say that this is a very drinkable session ale that does, in fact, remind me of some of low-ABV English pub pints.
Sprecher Brewing Co.
Back in 2008, I tried Sprecher Maibock which received the coveted “Awesome” tag. Here’s a dark wheat offering from Sprecher.
Sprecher sie Dunkel
Dunkels are among my favorite German styles because they’re like really good wheat beers, only better.
The pour is lively – a half-inch head pops up and settles to a fine layer that bunches up around the inner edge of the glass. When held to the light, a milk chocolate brown emerges through what is otherwise a dark cola color with amber and maple syrup tones.
The nose is massively malty for something that has ‘wheat’ on the label. It is all sweet oatmeal cookie dough, caramel, and a mild almond nuttiness. A slight husky wheat character emerges from behind the dark malt – let’s see if it shows up on the tongue.
Beautiful. This is a great brew. The mouthfeel is excellent, alternatively smooth yet with lively carbonation tiptoeing to the back of your throat. The initial flavor is a very subtle, slight tartness down the middle of the palate that is the wheat showing up as promised. It is tangy and a bit grassy – very nice. However, just as you are wondering if that’s it, all that dunkel-y goodness – the malt – flows outward and downward, coating the mouth in a slightly sweet layer that touches on chocolate and corn flakes.
Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
Wheat Monkey Ale
The color is very pale gold like hay in the sunshine – there is no trace of orange or red. The head is fine and white but dissipates rapidly, leaving only a disappearing archipelago of thin carbonated film. Clarity is low – there is a haze – but light passes through easily.
Why can't you set your monkey free?
The aroma is pleasantly full – a lot of sweet mash. It’s all grain and honey with some subtle coriander huskiness and perhaps a dash of lemon zest.
The mouthfeel is a bit fine, but very good for a wheat beer. There is very little spiciness or malt sweetness to overwhelm the palate, just a clean, lightly spiced citrus quality, some grassiness, just enough sweetness to make you keep sipping and enough bitter hops to round out the finish.
It’s not the most interesting beer I’ve had, but it hits the spot on a hot New York City summer day.
Riverwest Stein Beer
Lakefront markets this as an “All-Malt Amber Lager” and a German-influenced brew. I don’t know much about this particular brand but I like the sound of stein beer.
The color lives up to the label and is a lovely amber, with more cola brown than maple-syrup red. A thin, slightly off-white head sags quickly to a thin layer that is sustained by very slow, fine, and widely-spaced carbonation.
Anytime is a good time for a stein
The aroma is very sweet with notes of candy corn and a little bit of honey. There is a mossy background of bitter hops in the slender shape of straw.
With the first sip, the sweet malt imparts and immediate and surprising richness that borders on saccharine and cloying but is tempered into a milky Bavarian smoothness. The hops ride in not unnoticed, but quietly, and rear their heads with a faint squeaky wheel of dried apple and fig leaf.
This is a pleasantly complete beer which would do well served cold in a gradually perspiring tankard, or accompanying a heavy dish in cold weather when you want the smoothness of a lager but pilsner won’t cut it. I’ll look out for this one over the summer.
Sand Creek Brewing Co.
Black River Falls, WI
Lilja’s Heifer Weizen
Another sampling from Sand Creek, friends from the great brewing state of Wisco. This is an odd label, but I appreciate that they have a sense of humor.
The beer pours flaxen and light, with a sudsy pure white head that puffs up quickly only to exhale a bit and settle to a quarter-inch. The color after the last ounce or two is swirled and added to the mix is a deep auric orange that lightens to a rich blonde at the narrow portion of this hefeweizen glass.
It's funny cuz it's from Wisconsin. Seriously though, I love cheese.
The nose has a very pleasant spiciness of coriander with a touch of sage. It also has the requisite banana aroma, but it is quite sharp and almost lemon-like.
The initial sip has a decent mouthfeel that thins out considerably. The first flavors are a tangy, crispy wheat and very under-ripe pear or green apple. There is a bit of an astringent aftertaste at first, but as the beer warms and opens a bit, it turns into a more enjoyable seesaw between spicy and chewy, with the lemon showing up at the end in a refreshing splash.
The lacing is OK, but nothing too impressive. I may leave half this beer to warm for another couple of minutes to see what changes, if any, might occur.
Certainly, the nose picks up some more starch aromas, and the mouthfeel improves a bit into a very much more buttery finish. Overall, the brew doesn’t change too much. It’s enjoyable enough – easy-drinking and not overwhelmingly wheaty, but I might not seek it out.
Sand Creek Brewing Co.
Black River Falls, WI
Svea Lilja’s Pulling Boat American Pale Ale
Color is a hazy straw – even a touch blonde – with steady fine pearl strings of carbonation. The head is frothy and pure white, collapsing inward a bit, but there is decent retention and sticking.
Dry biscuit dominates the nose, with hints of yeasty bread and a faint whiff of overripe orange or lemon. A tiny hint of banana and coriander come through, finishing with citrus zest in the back, hopefully indicative of some hop body.
The initial sip has a very full mouthfeel upfront, with the fine effervescence leading into a very dry, grassy middle. A hint of sweetness, like lemon, comes through, but a crispy water cracker snap is predominant. Touches of coriander spice might be discernible, but you are left with a very dry, green apple crunch that gives this session beer some complexity and chewiness (though it’s more like crunchiness).
Not exactly and “American Pale Ale,” but that designation is wide open to interpretation. Decent lacing, especially at the start, but not photo-worthy.
The website is a bit jumpy, and I couldn’t find this brew on there, so it’s possible that it’s a contract brew. If you know more, drop me a line.