So, the last review that we did was seventeen days ago. In the last month we've reviewed two beers. Ah well. That happens. There's been a lot to talk about, I suppose. Well, we got through almost the entire Autumnal Fire season without reviewing it. Capital's Winter Skal is out again. New Glarus has two new beers out. Lake Louie's Louie's Reserve is out and probably sold out by now. Ale Asylum has a new beer out. And those are just the Madison area breweries. So, over the next few weeks we are going to concentrate on actually reviewing some beer around here. So, if you are a brewery and you would like to make sure that your beer gets reviewed, well, now would be a good time to send it.
This whole exercise was prompted by a trip to Toby's Supper Club in Macfarland. Toby's is a typical Wisconsin supper club just off of Highway 51 right as you get into Macfarland from the North. If you aren't paying attention you may drive past the building set aside into the left-hand corner of 51 and the Beltline a few dozen times. But once you find it, the good news is that you only have 30-minute to one hour wait until you eat your Friday Fish Fry. But, with typical Wisconsin efficiency, a waitress will come around and take your order while you are drinking in the bar area. And so it was with us. Toby's has a number of beers in bottle; I didn't even notice if any of it was on-tap, but given that they had to scrounge up the two pint glasses that we had to ask for, I'm guessing they don't serve a lot of tap beer. Four Capital beers, Four Leinie's beers, one Ale Asylum, and then the full assortment of Macros: PBR, Hamm's, Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light, etc. etc.
And it occured to me as I noticed the roomful of 50-60 somethings: Why do they not sell Fauerbach, Cross Plains, Hausmann, or any of the other macro-like Wisconsin beers here? If these are going to sell anywhere, they will sell here. Heck, I'd buy an Esser's Best (Mrs. MBR is an EB fan) or a Fauerbach. But this is the environment for which these beers were created. As it is, this is now Capital's and Leinie's market apparently. So, we ordered a Capital Autumnal Fire and a Leinie's Fireside Nut Brown.
The Autumnal Fire was good. It tasted like one would expect Autumnal Fire to taste. The only significant difference from last year's review is that this year's variety seems to have bulked up the body a bit. Last year we said: "Perhaps one of the few complaints would be that the tastes don't hold together, once the sharpness hits, the flavors are gone, leaving little residual flavor. It is a difficult beer to savor." But this year's is definitely savorable. A nice improvement for Capital and I'm glad that they haven't let this flagship sink. My only complaint would be that this is not a beer to be consumed out of a bottle at refrigerator temperatures. I understand the need to keep it in the fridge, where else are they going to put it. But, it absolutely should be served in a pint glass and let breathe for a bit; a bottle will constrain the flavors and the aromas, and really what's the point of drinking this fine a beer if you can't taste it or smell it?
The Leinie's Fireside Nut Brown, though. If only I could put it back in the bottle. Preferably with a note telling them to stop producing this immediately. We always say here that reviews are subjective - and it's possible that there are people out there that find this beer a sweet, welcome winter warmer. Heck, I've seen people ordering Bud Lime, so you never know. But, I am not one of them. It's only flavor was that of hazelnut syrup. You know those syrups that coffee shops use to flavor your latte or coffee drinks? Yeah. Take about 7 pumps of that and put it into an otherwise boring, but not bad, brown ale. Not particularly good. I'm really beginning to wonder what the heck is going on at Leinenkugel's. Everything they sell now is some "flavor" or another - Apple Spice, Nut Brown, Lemon Shandy, Berry Weiss, etc. Maybe it's an aggressive attempt by Miller to capture the market that finds these "beers" attractive without actually branding them as Miller beers? And, really, fruit beers and flavors aren't bad, but do they really need to be so cloyingly sweet? It's like Leinie's thinks that consumers don't possess taste buds. Honestly, if I had wasted the money on a six-pack of this, I'm not sure I'd finish it - and I don't know anyone that I dislike enough to give it to.