Fearful Symmetries

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14 October, 2015

A Beer Fit for a Feast Day: Patron Saint by Wisconsin Brewing Company

This was one of my most anticipated beers of 2015. Kirby Nelson's Oktoberfest at Capital was generally well-regarded and, when he left for new digs at Wisconsin Brewing Company, a coterie of friends and I were looking forward to tasting another fine rendition of the style. One friend met Mr. Nelson at a store last year and inquired about the potential for a WBC Oktoberfest. He replied that he was planning one "with a twist". We fretted that it would be an India Pale Oktoberfest or some such thing. Then news came that the beer had been brewed and was christened "Magic Marzeniac". More news came saying that it had all been promptly shipped off to Appleton. What the deuce?!

Wisconsin Brewing Company released an Oktoberfest this year and refrained from limiting its distribution to Appleton or indeed any city in the Fox River Valley. The beer was also renamed Patron Saint. I'm not sure if the beer was reformulated this year or not. I did find a website stating that Magic Marzeniac was 6% A.B.V. while Patron Saint is only 5.6% so it seems likely that the formula was tweaked, if only slightly.

Patron Saint poured a gorgeous copper color. Very much in the minority of Oktoberfests I've had this year with most so far being of lighter color and with less of a red hue. The beer was clear as expected. I got a rather large head that was tan and loose. It also seemed to stick around for a while. There were some stray bubbles making their way up the glass but only a few.

The aroma was not overly promising. It was rather sweet - as if Nelson let loose a bit too much caramel malt. My nose also detected a slight metallic smell along with a touch of herbal hoppiness. Fortunately, the taste was quite an improvement over the aroma. The beer had a medium body and was soft on the tongue. While there was some definite malt sweetness which was like toffee, my preferred flavors which were more like bread and melanoidiny toast were also present. Something also gave a slight nuttiness as well which I really enjoyed. A modicum of carbonation and a hint of some spicy hops made an honest effort to even out the malt assault but they could only do so much. There was also a vinous flavor which I had a hard time pinning down. I've tasted it before in beer and whenever I do I am reminded of vermouth.

This off flavor was a bit distracting but certainly not overpowering as the other malt flavors shone through. Furthermore it was not an unpleasant flavor, merely unexpected. The finish was fairly dry with grassy and spicy hop notes coming through. My tankard was left with some really nice Schaumhaftvermoegen with it being littered around the whole of the glass.

I'd imagine that Kirby Nelson must struggle at least a little bit to differentiate his WBC brews from those he brewed at Capital. I mean, there's little difference to my taste between the amber lager he brewed out in Middleton and the one he's brewing now. Maybe he's using Mt. Hood hops in the stead of Liberty or some such other minor variation. The same applies here. Vinous flavor aside, Patron Saint is much akin to the Oktoberfest he brewed at Capital for decades. The primary difference seems to be that Patron Saint is a bit hoppier. Mind you, it's not as hoppy as something like Milwaukee Brewing Co.'s Hoptoberfest but there's definitely more hop than I recall from years past in the taste and finish. There's just a bit more balance rather than letting the malt run completely roughshod over the hops.

Junk food pairing: You must pair any and all Oktoberfests with deep fried cheese curds. You will love how the salt accentuates the malt. It's like putting Pleasoning on your hot dish. It is just that good.

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|| Palmer, 7:57 AM


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