Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Battle of the Belges, Stone Soup and Fat Squirrels

Visited Milwaukee this past weekend, so the theme was beer. None of it was from Milwaukee though.

The first night we ended up at Point East Pub; I'd heard about the incredible wings, so I figured I'd even brave the cigarette smoke (which unfortunately was at the fumigatory level, ech) and check 'em out. They were...incredible. Some of the best wings I've ever had. Twice cooked, loaded with spice---but more spice than sheer heat. Anybody can do hot; takes a good recipe to do spice, with balanced heat.

They had a panoramic selection of beer at PEB, and good wings deserved good beer, so first up was a Chimay Red. The bartender apologized and said all he had on hand was a Duvel glass; I laughed and said I'd let it slide this once. Great ale; tart apricot fruit on the nose, but red plums, red plums, red plums in the mouth, with a tincture of herbal sappiness and a lovely cinnamon-nutmeg dustiness, all wrapped up with a tart/sweet/sour/bitter finish.

And hey, since I already had a Duvel glass, heck, why not a Duvel?!? I'll tell you up front here: I'm not impartial when it comes to Duvel. I love the stuff; it's easily one of my favorite brews. And this iteration didn't let me down one bit. It was creamy and pleasantly bitter and drenched in tart fruit. Perfect, absolutely perfect, with the wings, and over the top with the sweet potato fries. And word: Duvel is great with food too.

Next day was the long awaited Green Bay-Minnesota game at Lambeau, so we ended up in front of a giant tv screen watching most of Wisconsin get depressed---but to salve our spirits we sucked down some beer from New Glarus Brewing Company.

I had heard good things about the cool couple at New Glarus, and been urged to try their brews, so this was my chance. Sure glad I did: These people are making some great beer down in southern Wisconsin, and I'm now a big fan.

The first was Stone Soup, billed as a Belgian-style ale. And it was. It was actually as close to being a la Belge as any American micro I've ever had. Very similar to the Chimay Red, with tart fruit and spice. This is a beer I could fall in love with. Great balance, and an even greater lingering finish that brings you back for more.

The next one, Fat Squirrel, was just as impressive in its way. It was a soft, fat, slightly caramel/chocolate nut brown ale, with a hazelnut for the nut and some pumpernickel for the brown, and just the right touch of hops to keep things tight and tasty. Liquid bread, baby!

Keep your eye on New Glarus. This is beer worth looking for. They're two for two with me. (They also make a Cracked Wheat, but I didn't try that. My son, who inhaled it, did say it was pretty good though.)

And say what you will (and I know you will), Favre came to play on Sunday. Gotta give him that.

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