Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Brewery Review: South Shore Brewery - Ashland, WI

The context around making it all the way out to such a distant northern brewery goes something like this: My brother Luke, now 20 apparently makes a trip out to Madeline Island every year for a week in order to go camping/ cliff jumping, rock climbing, and all sorts of activities. Fortunately this year I tagged along to which I was able to have some influence over our stopping points along the way. First stop was Madison...See Great Dane Pub & Brewery. For the next six hours we took side roads all the way north until reaching Ashland where we grabbed a quick lunch (for me it was beer) and continued to Bayfield to catch the ferry to the Island. While at this brewery, I was fortunate to meet Justin, one of the Brewers and get a brief tour of thier set up. but before getting to that, let's examine the beer I tried:

Northern Lights Ale - Wood betony and Lavander. Light straw/corn color. White foam head. Some activity within. There resides a subtle pungency and a bit of acetylaldehyde (apple) in the nose. Foretaste is sweet with an immediate bite. Ends dry with a spiced character. Unusual. (Make all your beers wacky like this and you may have a great new idea)
Red Lager - Darkened amber. Very clear. White ring around around the edges. Mild sweetened toffee at the nose. Taste is light but with a strong tartness at the end, reminiscent of grape skins and cherries. Some smokiness present.
American Pale Ale (APA) - Dark Copper/amber. Entire white lacing. Still. Pine and grapefruit citrus in both taste and aroma. Caramel nose. Sweet foretaste but a balanced pine bitter finish. A bit nutty. Quite bitter for a pale ale, especially when warm.
Nut Brown - Still. No head. Basic sweet aroma: Caramel with a touch of toffee, nutty and an instance of chocolate may be noted. Generally, quite light, but with a foamy mouthfeel.
ESB - Nitrogen Bubbled. Huge dense cream head. Rubied bronze in color. Carameled with a nose of lightly roasted dried fruit. Alcohol is acknowledgeable with a tannin bitter finish. Peat and earthy spice.
Bavarian Wheat - Opaque pale straw with a minimal white ring for a head. Clovy phenols. Dry and spicy, perhaps with a tinge of banana. Predominantly yeasty and spiced. Lacks citrus. A undertone of nutmeg leaving a dry tannin bitterness.
Weizen Eisbock - Very dark brown, nearing black. Up to the light, it maintains a reddish hue. Brown foam head. Taste is robust with chocolate and roasted barley. Smooth and alcoholic, but not overbearing. Vanilla and maple. Rich!
Cherry Wit - Opaque, but hazed with a tint of pink. White foam ring. A tartness about it in the taste. Wheaty and citrus with extra spice. There is a very interesting taste about this beer that I was unable to put my finger on [later on Justin explained to me that there was some scorching of the cherries or wheat?]

The Brewery is located on the edge of Ashland, right as you are about to head down the perimeter of the lake towards Bayfield. It stands within a normal multi-story building across the street from a liqueur store. Upon entering in one of their two entrances, the pub takes on the typical large wooden lined spacious area. If you enter on their Right door, you see immediately to your right the brewhouse, along with several of their fermentors. Ahead is the dining area and to the left through a short hallway and past the bathrooms is a secluded Island bar set with hanging glasses. This had kind of an old-style pub take to it. Beer memorabilia clashed with hunting season. Luckily I got to meet Justin, who was one of the Brewers there who informed me a great deal of the workings of this particular brewery. They have 3 x 7 bbl, 2 x 10 bbl and 2 x 20 bbl fermenters, all fed into bright tanks. Ironically, they still manage to distribute to almost the entire half of Northern Wisconsin! Truly a microbrewery hard at work. They bottle most of their beer, though some are in bombers and the rest are obtained only exclusively at the brewpub. Their beer is filtered through a bell filter, which this was my first encounter with, and as I still have little understanding of its workings, except for it utilizes silicon beads? Anyway I had ordered a sample which was very inexpensive, and included all the beer seen above. They have a food menu, but I didn't really have the time to eat if I was to produce a hand written post like this. In all it was a good experience, and I thank Justin for being very informative, and giving me 2 bombers of their pale ale and coffee mint stout.
Check them out at:

Brewery Review: 42/50

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