Posted by: marcmwm | October 17, 2008

Beer O’ Clock — Wisconsin

Part of my “real” introduction to beer began as a lifeguard at Noah’s Ark Water Park in the Wisconsin Dells.

I worked at that wonderful family vacation spot for three summers. Had a great time. Met my wife and some lifelong friends. Saw Rick Majerus in a swim suit. Caught air on “The Plunge.” Saw a lot of unintended nudity (some good, some not).

And, of course, college being college and Wisconsin being Wisconsin, I drank a lot of beer.

Some days, it was cold. Eight hours in an intertube pool, raining and 60 some degrees, it gets cold. But being young and stupid, we had a regular contest: First one to put on a raincoat or sweatshirt had to buy a case of beer. When I buckled, I always picked the cheapest and that was Lodi, a $5 a case date with constipation.

Point was a luxury at $9 a case. Special Export was a nothing special at $9. But Rhinelander, the beer “as refreshing as Wisconsin’s Northwoods,” was Goldilock’s porridge. It tasted just right at $7 per.

So, it was a little piney. Pine is natural. Trees are nature, last I checked.

The ‘Lander is a simple beer. According to Huber Brewery, it’s two-row malt, Galena hops, water and yeast. Pinesol is not listed as an official ingredient. I think Huber only makes it cans now. I was introduced with bottles that were made for bar fights and the thick cardboard cases they came in. In fact, I still have one of those cases. I think it holds old baseball cards.

When we splurged, we bought Moosehead. Is that still around?

Here’s an unfortunate Facebook picture my friend Todd Schneider posted of me one night after too many Mooseheads.

Yeah, that’s unfortunate.

New discovery this week, Anchor has a summer brew!! I didn’t know that. My friend Kelly and I went fishing in the Maquoketa River on Friday and he brought a six from Cedar Falls. I haven’t seen that in Cedar Rapids.

This is an all-malt beer, 50 percent of which comes from malted wheat. It’s a dry and light beer. Wheats are a work in progress for me, but my first taste was enjoyable.

It gets a B-minus on 300 reviews at Beeradvocate. This Offa fellow hates it, “The taste is too thin, bland, and rough with a rough bitternes that is far too strong for this beer and its thin character. It is mostly light lemon and crackers. It’s worse with food.”

I bought a big bottle of Sierra Nevada’s Harvest Wet Hop. Can’t wait to try it. Probably when I’m done with this.

Here’s what Sierra’s website says, “Created in 1996, Harvest Ale features Cascade and Centennial hops from the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington. These hops are harvested and shipped as “wet” un-dried hops — the same day they are picked — to our brewery in Chico where our brewers eagerly wait to get them into the brew kettle while their oils and resins are still at their peak.”

It gets an A-minus at Beeradvocate. IronCitySteve loves it, “A delightfully bitter beer with pine and lemon/orange being the most abundance flavors. The malt flavors kick in on the back-end. Great balance.”

I have a lot of family from Wisconsin, my dad and my wife to start. On Thanksgiving or Christmas, my wife’s family will occasionally have some excellent beers around. One year, I had an Autumnal Fire from Capital Brewery. It was excellent.

Capital’s site says, “A blazing rich beer, this is a doppelbock based on an Octoberfest personality. Warm and intriguing, the perfect “Brandy Snifter” beer. ABV 7.26%”

Mmmm, brandy snifter beer. I waded in the Maquoketa River for several hours today. Just the term, “brandy snifter,” warms the soul. This is a seasonal (8.5 ABV) that rolls out in September. I’m so going to the in-laws in Dodgeville on one of these holidays. A beer trip to Madison is so gonna happen.

Autumnal gets an A-minus from Beeradvocate on 202 reviews. JoeyBeerBelly liked the ’07 version and loved the ’08, “’07 – doppelbock heaven, this beer is sweet and delicious, slight taste of alcohol as it warms up.
’08 – I didn’t give it a chance to warm up, as it was too delicious. Sweet malty flavor all the way through. The fresh ’08 version caused me to bump up my rating to a 5.”

A stack of Capital's Autumnal Fire sits ready for shipping at the Middleton brewery.


  1. Since I’ll be watching the game at home today, I think I’ll go pick me up some Point beer at my local grocer.

  2. Those red caps off Rhinelander Bock are seared in my brain.

  3. And the beer du jour for tailgating today is Pabst Blue Ribbon. It ain’t fancy but it still offers a good bang for the buck.

  4. Too bad we don’t have Capital in cans around here. I prefer to have good beer at the tailgate, but I have to admit bottles are kind of a pain. Guess I’ll stick with a 12 of Grain Belt cans–at least it’s made by a real brewery.

    Speaking of the Huber Brewery (can never remember its current name), I took the tour with some friends a few years ago. An odd and interesting tour.

  5. Capital Beer is on my short list of best Micro beers, right up there with the Dogfish Head. At the Capital brewery they have their own beer garden where they bring in bands to play. It is awesome, good music washed down with really good beer. Does any one know where you can get Capital beer in the Cedar Rapids area? Benz once told me that they are not shipping in Iowa any longer, is that still true?

  6. That might be correct–I know I’ve seen Capital in the past, but the John’s Grocery web site does not show it on their beer inventory anymore. I’ve even seen Capital in HyVee before. There are worse reasons to road trip to Madison–Steve’s Liquors on the west side is a great source. I see Cap’s Autumnal Fire just won a gold at the GABF, too.

  7. I’ve seen Capital at Hy-Vee, but I haven’t looked lately.

    I’m dipping into the Arrogant Bastard tonight.

    Oh and 10 or so Sierra Nevada pale ales and two strong gin and tonics . . . let’s must say it made for a long day.

  8. So, are you worthy?

  9. Saving it for later. Will post.

  10. If Tampa doesn’t pull their head out of their rear, I may have to hit the Bastard too.

  11. The Rays, I mean. Not the Bucs.

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