Brew Review: Three Summer Beers
Capital Brewing -- Special Pilsner
Capital Brewing’s Special Pilsner exemplifies the supreme drinkability that lead Pilsners to become so widely enjoyed across the globe. A pure, pale gold, Capital’s Special Pilsner’s light, bready aroma, in which mingle tangerine peel and semi-dried herbs, forecasts a gentle pleasantly malty beer that is, like bread, both utterly elemental and yet never boring.
As you drink, clean flavors of chewed malt match perfectly with a slight with a palate-cleaning acidity, after which sweet malt lingers a moment before a soft bitterness rounds out the swallow. In the ever-so-slightly sweet front half of the finish, you’ll catch hints of chestnut, and sweet squash, custard, lemon, and poppyseed.
While Special Pilsner retains much of the character or Europe lagers, it has a juicy, citrus-like quality that plays well with the classic malt profile. One of Capital’s brewers, Ashley Kinart, sums up this Pilsner perfectly: “I really enjoy the old-world malt backbone with a crisp noble hop finish,” noting that “while our Pilsner has almost as many pounds of hops per barrel as our IPA, they do not contribute a heavy bitterness, but a refreshing herbal nose and flavor of Czech Saaz hops.” Bottom line: this beer is, very, very drinkable, will never tire your palate, and is notable for how well it balances delicate old-world flavors.
Funk Factory Geuzeria -- Meerts
Funk Factory Geuzeria’s Levi Funk employs a traditional Belgian method in brewing Meerts, which takes the name of a light, very low ABV beer, produced by brewers of Lambic. Like his forerunners, Funk gathers the second runnings (essentially remains from mashing a batch of grain for another, stronger beer ) and ferments them in oak tanks called Foeders with wild yeast.
A delicious rendition of a traditional style and methodology, Meerts is light and refreshing, tart but not sour, and very sessionable. It pours a crystal clear, dandelion gold. In keeping with the traditional Belgian style, there’s little head on the beer; that, combined with low carbonation makes Meerts east to drink -- especially on hot summer evenings.
On the nose you’ll catch notes of sweet, dried grass, citrus peels, and a hint of herbality akin to smelling moss. Funk’s Meerts’ balances flavors of musty lemons left too long on the kitchen counter with a gently funk, mellow background sweetness, and a vanilla oakiness under which lay background notes of a slight terrarium-like, mustiness.
Opening with flavors of lemon sheet cake, and a dash of banana cream, before plunging into fresh-cut marigolds, lemon juice mixed with seltzer, and the core of an unripe pineapple, under which is an ever-present barnyards memory of hay bales, damp straw, dusty saddles and an old farmers boots after he walks through a misty field on an autumn morning strong.
Gin-Barrel-Aged O-Gii -- Milwaukee Brewing Company
One of the best-kept secrets of Milwaukee’s burgeoning beer scene, Milwaukee Brewing Company’s Barrel Program continually produces award winning beers that somehow seem to escape the notice of locals.
Their Gin-Barrel-Aged Oh-Gii, essentially an Imperial Wit aged in Gin barrels is a hybrid beast: a beer complex to savor and mull over, yet with a light, floral flavor profile that’s not designed around hops.
As golden as July twilight, a big white head floats over Gin-Barrel-Aged Oh-Gii from start to finish. Catch floral aromas of gin, orange blossoms, and rose petal fusel alcohols overlay notes of vanilla cake before sipping. The beer itself opens with roasted marshmallows, bananas, and peach, then transitions quickly into flavors of crushed juniper berries and a melange rosemary and lavender. Aspirate the beer to accentuate it’s cocktail-like qualities and find it’s akin to a gin screwdriver. Notable in that it steers into this spirit-like quality, instead of hiding it as most beer does, Gin-Barrel-Aged Oh-Gii is a testament to the skill and creativity of Milwaukee Brewing Company’s brewers.