Friday, January 29, 2010

BrewFarm Select

Despite being accused, and probably guilty, of - let me make sure I get this right - having a "burned-out tongue" and being a "stuck-up hophead", I do like pale, easy-drinking beer. Whether it is an ale in the form of New Glarus' Spotted Cow or a lager in the form of Capital's Special Pils. When I'm playing poker with the guys, or even just want to sit down and drink a beer without thinking about it too much, I like to grab a pale, simple-tasting beer.

But there's a trick to these beers. Too little flavor and you end up with a macro-clone. Too much flavor and you defeat the purpose. Despite recent accusations of snobbery, I'm not an adjunct-hater. But, again, the balance is necessary. Spotted Cow gets dangerously close to too much corn. Supper Club tips the scale. But, at least give them some credit for making the effort; many other breweries simply refuse to make these beers because they don't want to be associated with pale, fizzy, beer.

But, it's a huge part of the industry - in fact, it is, hands down, the biggest part of the industry. As "the Cow" has shown, having a pale, fizzy, adjunct beer can be your ... ahem ... cash cow (sorry). You can go into almost any bar in this state and, even if they only have three tap-lines, Spotted Cow will be on tap. This is a huge boon to a brewery. It can also be a, literal, headache as these bars tend to suffer from less-than-stellar cleaning habits which infects beer with diacetyl, making the corn taste like popcorn and giving the drinker a headache before the first glass is finished.

I don't know what the numbers are, but I suspect that this "off flavor" and "headache inducing" aspect to beer drinking prevents, or impedes, the development of beer drinkers. This is often the first, and sometimes only, interaction that a prospective drinker will have with a brand. Think, for a moment, about a place like Platteville, WI. A small college town with a strip of bars that attract local college kids as they are coming of age. One of these folks goes into the bar for the first time, sees "Spotted Cow" on tap, but the tap is infected. With such an unpleasant experience ("dude, I have a killer headache. f- that Cow man, just give me a Jack and Coke"), it's no wonder that younger generations are increasingly turning to spirits.

So, that gets a long way off-topic. But, the fact remains that pale, fizzy beers with flavor can be a brewery's savior even in the craft industry. Spotted Cow, Oberon, 312, Dortmunder Gold - all flavorful, easy drinking, pale, fizzy beer.

Into this market steps Dave's BrewFarm Select, the first full-release for the BrewFarm we've been talking about here for quite some time. Brewed and packaged in cans (cans!) at Stevens Point under the direction of brewer David Anderson, the Select is a pale lager in the vein of Dortmunder Gold. It aims to be a beer that you can drink anywhere; equally at home out of a can as at a fancy restaurant in a fluted pilsner, a beer that you can ignore, but also a beer that you has some taste and complexity that if you really take the time to notice is quite complex. These are all the things that the Dortmunder Gold is, let's see if it holds up to these considerable expectations, shall we?

Already available in parts of the state, BrewFarm Select should be available on shelves in Madison and Milwaukee soon, if it isn't already, through Beechwood Distributing.

[Ed Note: I'll get a review up sooner rather than later, but I wanted to make sure this got up before tomorrow's Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest, since this is one of the first Southern-Wisconsin Beer Fests that the BrewFarm is attending. If you make it over there, make sure to say hello to David and Pam]

BrewFarm Select
BA. (A-) RB. (NA)
Appearance: served as yellow, fizzy beer should, straight out of the fridge, though I couldn't bring myself to drink out of the can for review purposes; more golden that yellow, it is quite fizzy (carbonated) and has a small-ish white head
Aroma: the aroma is notable even as it pours out of the can; the aroma is all malt with a touch of hops to clean it up and lend some nice spiciness
Flavor: oh yeah, clean, crisp, refreshing; strong malt breadiness, with maybe some vienna or munich sweetness, biscuity; I don't pick any caramel, and the hops are pretty light in the flavor, almost no bitterness
Body: while this is light-ish bodied, the finish is surprisingly clean, even if a little long which lends a little added body to subsequent sips
Drinkability: this is a beer style that is all about sessionability and drinkability; do you want another one, and do you want another one right now? I'd take another four or five of these; right now
Summary: It's hard to get worked up over a pale lager, as there are so few that are of any quality; of course, Dortmunder Gold is the ... errr ... gold standard, but Capital Special Pils and Calumet's Pils are both right up there; for special releases I think New Glarus' Bohemian Lager was one of the best of the style to ever be produced. But I would instantly put this in the category of Capital and Calumet as contenders to Great Lakes Dortmunder. A worthy effort for the BrewFarm and a nice feather in Point's contract-brewing cap.


  1. Here, here for fizzy yellow beer! I agree that the core of a brewery has to include a 'regular' beer if they ever want to become more that a fad-brewer. FWIW I include a basic pale ale in the category of fizzy yellow beer.

    And before anyone decries the blandness and lack of character in fizzy yellow of the fastest selling of the NG unplugged beers was their Bohemian Lager - amazing beer that I hope they brew again.

    I'm also looking forward to trying all the Brew Farm products at the Isthmus show tomorrow.


  2. Where can you get BFS in Madison?



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