Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More on Old Beer - Rowland's Madison Street Lager

On Monday we talked about Leinenkugel's lame attempt at recalling the early days of American brewing with their "1888 Bock" that was neither brewed in 1888 nor a bock.

We talked about how these things were, and are, called "bock" despite not being very bock-like. Well, we do have a more appropriate name for these beasts - Pre-Prohibition Lagers (aka Classic American Pilsner). It is typically brewed with 6-row barleys, American hops, and some corn (flaked maize) in the grain bill is acceptable. It is differentiated from the Modern American Lager (e.g., Budweiser, Miller Genuine Draft, Pabst Blue Ribbon, et al) by its fuller mouthfeel, higher hopping rate, and creamier texture.

I'd go into it further, but George Fix wrote a better article about it than I could way back in 1994 - Explorations in Pre-Prohibition American Lagers, Brewing Techniques, May/June 1994.

In the last of the beer brought back from my pilgrimage north to Rowland's Calumet Brewing Company in Chilton, Wisconsin, we bring to you: the Madison Street Lager

Appearance: pale gold with a two-finger lacy white head
Aroma: light, grassy and floral not much in the aroma, but aroma isn't really a focus for this beer
Flavor: light and bubbly with a subtle biscuit and caramel flavor; soft and husky - surprisingly complex for a workman's beer; some of the hoppy grassiness comes through in the flavor and there is a bitterness on the end that finishes off this beer cleanly; almost a very light Oktoberfest/marzen profile
Body: light but not watery
Drinkability: well ... three-fourths of the growler is gone and it was just opened an hour ago
Summary: back when Hausmann's Capital Brewery served free lunches at the corner of state and Gilman, they would have served a beer very similar to this one; I would say it's too bad this isn't bottled, but, really, as a farmer in Eastern Wisconsin done with your labor for the day and checking in on the local gossip, I can't think of a better treat than to have this on tap all to yourself.

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