Arts & Culture / Mosaic / May 5, 2011

Flunk beer

Flunk Day is amazing for many reasons, but one of them is that it is perfectly acceptable to start drinking at six in the morning. Not that I normally wake up and wish I could have a beer at that hour, but your sense of smell and taste are much stronger and more acute in the morning. So if you really want to taste a beer at its best, start drinking first thing in the morning. On Flunk Day, however, all the beer I consumed was in the less-than-ideal condition of being in a water bottle, so it kind of defeats the purpose. Nevertheless, here’s what I was drinking on Flunk Day.

Two Brothers Domaine DuPage (Biere de Garde, 5.9 percent alcohol by volume (abv)): Two Brothers is a fairly new brewery from Warrenvill, Ill., and some say it could be the next big craft brewery from the state. Since I haven’t had anything from this rising-star brewery, and the Biere de Garde style is one of my favorites, I was pretty excited to pick this one up on a recent trip through Peoria. Since I couldn’t see or clearly smell the beer from the water bottle, I cannot comment on those features. But the beer tasted earthy with significantly caramel and toasty biscuit malt. For a 5.9 percent abv beer, there was far too much alcohol heat in what should have been a pretty easy-drinking beer. Other than that, it was very good beer.

Clown Shoes Clementine (Witbier, 6 percent abv): Clown Shoes is another one of those buzz-worthy new breweries that I had no idea distributed this far away from their brewery in Massachusetts. This featured a light body and was a real easy-drinker. It had some earthy characteristics but also a refreshing spice profile as well. The bottle says that the beer includes clementine essence and sweet orange peel and you can really taste the addition, which makes this beer even more refreshing. Clementine makes Blue Moon taste like dirty dish water, and you don’t even need an orange slice to drink it.

New Glarus Spotted Cow (Farmhouse Ale, 4.8 percent abv): New Glarus is one of my favorite breweries and Spotted Cow is by far their most popular beer. Even though New Glarus only sells their beer in their home state of Wisconsin, they sold enough craft beer in 2010 to put them at 21st in the nation. My initial observation of this beer, which I’ve had several times before, was a skunky smell that shouldn’t be there. I suspect I got a light-stricken bottle. The beer was light in body and a little watery. There was not much really special or impressive flavor, just some graininess malt. It was a solid, easy drinking-beer; a better version of PBR and the other elite light lagers. In terms of craft beers, Spotted Cow will likely never win any awards, but it’s easy-drinking nature make it extremely popular and pays the bills so New Glarus can make smaller, experimental batches that really get the beer geeks excited. For what it is, Spotted Cow is a very successful beer, but just don’t come in expecting a world-class beer.

Boulevard Tank 7 (Farmehouse Ale, 8 percent abv): This is one beer I was extremely excited to try. Boulevard’s Saison-Brett is one of my favorite beers and Tank 7 is supposed to be similar. The beer is light in body with a ton of smooth carbonation. The taste is a combination of slight hop bitterness, earthiness, barnyard funk—it really tastes like hay—and citrus or orangey notes. While the hay may sound off-putting to some, it really makes the beer unique and extremely tasty. This fantastic beer ends very dry, urging you to take another sip.

John Christiansen

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