Three Milwaukee Beers for Fall
The Explorium Brewpub
The Explorium’s Oktoberfest is a near-perfect rendition of a Marzen, the March-brewed German beer that was traditionally lagered over the summer for drinking in autumn. Marzen was the beer served at the first Oktoberfest in 1810.
Pouring a superlatively clear, rich, copper-red color that turns golden as you drain your glass, The Explorium’s Oktoberfest is thoroughly effervescent with a faint, off-white head. An aroma of malt, bread, caramel, and a subtle fruitiness akin to dried cherries gives way to a medium-bodied, yet dry beer with a complex, almost fruity maltiness. The rich Munich malts used by brewer Kyle Ciske build layers of caramel, bread crust and sunny fields of grain. Finally, a restrained hop presence balances the beer, adding a touch of acidity and, perhaps, faint, well-dried hay.
The rich layerings of flavor and perfectly clean yeast-profile attest to both Ciske’s skill as a brewer and owner Mike Doble’s experience. Doble has attended Oktoberfest well over a half dozen times and that experience certainly speaks the vision behind this beer.
1840 Brewing Company
Bier de Garde
A stunning example of an often-unappreciated style, 1840’s bourbon-barrel-aged Bier de Garde combines malt complexity, bourbon-barrel and yeast-funk into a totally delicious, dangerously drinkable and supremely subtle beer. Owner-brewer Kyle Vetter calls this “slow-beer” — fermenting all his beer in barrels, some with a mix of yeast strains, proving that things that come slow are often the most worth waiting for.
This is the rare beer that aficionados can geek out over while neophytes just love the way it tastes. On the nose are malt, subtle funk and caramels soaked in bourbon. Layers of caramel, milk chocolate and a rich nuttiness interweave with bourbon and a slight vanilla note. As the beer finishes, you pick up stone fruits stewed with chocolate, then restrained background notes of barnyard, and possibly the barest prick of lactic acid. The 8.5 percent alcohol cuts the beer’s body perfectly, making this one bottle to savor with friends around the fire.
Best drunk slightly warmer than the typically suggested 52 degrees, this beer won’t be available again until October 14th. Don’t miss out on one of the city’s true gems.
Black Husky Brewing
Nuanced and balanced, approachable-but-never-boring, owner-brewer tim Eichinger’s OIHF, a Robust Milk Stout, pours beautifully: a near-black taupe with a thick, light-khaki head that lasts until the last sip.
Sweet stouts incorporate unfermentable milk sugar (hence the name “milk” stout), traditionally believed to contribute a tonic quality to the beer, adding both X and residual sweetness. In Eichinger’s brew, a subtle sweetness and pleasingly full body balance against 8 percent ABV and the perfect amount of roast malts.
An aroma of freshly roasted coffee and malt presages steady waves of bittersweet chocolate, high-lovibond malts, coffee with cream, and a roastiness that finishes with the slightest dash of cinnamon. The hop presence here is earthy, and totally incorporated into the beer’s roast-malt character.
More flavorful when slightly warmer that 54 degrees, OIHF is strong enough for sipping, complex enough to savor, pleasant — yet never boring. Perfect for full-flavored dinners, firesides and brisk autumn mornings, OIHF is delicious enough to make you long for fall all year long.