Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lakefront Fuel Cafe Coffee Stout

As part of our effort to start incorporating more Milwaukee breweries here on Madison Beer Review, we turn now to Lakefront Brewery. Famous for their brewery tours. Russ Klisch, the headbrewer at Lakefront, has made his brewery a stalwart of the Wisconsin craft brewing industry.

Russ is also well-known for his fight against Budweiser over organic standards in brewing. Quickly, as a background, the basic gist is this: the USDA certifies foods organic; of course, very few processed foods can be made absolutely, 100% organic - some base component, say salt, a minor component of most foods, is just too impractical or costly to obtain organically (we will, for purposes of this article ignore the logical retort of "so what?"); in any event, the USDA publishes exemptions for non-organic products that can be used in foods that can still be certified as organic. So, OK, to the fight: Budweiser wants to add hops to the "exemption" list. Their argument (Budweiser's) is that hop material comprises a very, very small percentage of beer. But, Russ pointed out, hops are integral to the very essence of beer, to exclude them would be "a threat to organic certification at best, and intentionally misleading to consumers at worst." Using non-organic hops in an "organic" beer is not only a cheap shortcut, it's intellectually dishonest and, as Russ points out, is misleading.

Anyway. The point is, Russ is one of the good guys fighting the good fight for craft brewers here in Wisconsin and in general. We'll see in future posts just how innovative Russ is. But for now, we'll just say he's got some really interesting cards up his rolled up sleeves.

One of those interesting things is a partnership with local Milwaukee Riverwest coffee roaster Fuel Cafe. He's used their coffee in a stout to make his Fuel Cafe Coffee Stout.

Lakefront Fuel Cafe Coffee Stout

Appearance: a 1/4 inch tan head on black body that browns out towards the edges; more carbonated than I would have expected with nice small bubbles
Aroma: roasted malt but light on the roasted coffee aroma with a subtle cranberry-ish-ness on the finish
Flavor: tastes exactly like it smells with a fast dry finish
Body: a porter-like finish makes it seems slightly leaner than its big-boned body would otherwise suggest
Drinkability: I could definitely see this in regular rotation throughout a winter, it's definitely good enough to drink and I'd definitely have another, especially if I had it lying around the house
Summary: I'll probably buy twelve and keep them in the cellar and mete them out over the course of the winter; it's not the full-flavored smooth drinking stout bomb of Central Waters' Bourbon Barrel Stout, but it's not trying for it either - it hits its ambitions of being a good beer for everyday drinking

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