Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brewery Review: Millstream Brewery - Amana, IA

Ironically, this was my first visit to the brewery after living in the QC the last 5 years (and working at GRB for the last year). So it was long over due. Jen and I joined Joe Wietlispach an Rick Harris for an all day tour of the breweries in Des Moine, and everything in between, including a preliminary stop at John's Grocery in Iowa City. I've always heard great things about Millstream, especially their Oktoberfest party. And their recent win in the stout category at the Great American Beer Festival for their Back Road Stout. Anyway, these were the beers I tried:

Windmill Wheat - Pale yellow color, dense white foam head. High carbonation. Yeasty aroma and a lot of wheat...even doughy. Taste is spicy and a lot more flavor than light American lager (as it was compared to). Creamy smooth. Dry finish.
Johns Generations White Ale - Lot more haze. Foamy white head. More wheat in the flavor. Spicy and clove phenols in the aroma. Banana emerges more in the flavor. Smooth texture.
Schild Brau Amber - Medium copper color. Very clear. Faint kilned amber malt aroma head is well statured atop high carbonated look. Sweet and biscuity. Some graininess in the aftertaste.
Iowa Pale Ale - Definitely unfiltered and cloudy. Copper colored with a lesser head than the others. Tropical pine hop bill.. cascade for sure. Flavor is dry but pairs well with the base malt. Grain husk. Some grassiness in the aftertaste finishing dry. Carbonation complements the dryness in the finish very well. Smooth and refreshing.

Schokolade Bock - Bock colored...rustic red with a tint of brown. Wet lacing and a lesser head. Aroma is carameled and chocolaty. Taste erupts with a bittersweet chocolate while caramel takes a fore-hold. Dry with again, a grain flavor.
Back Road Stout - Wet lacing, beige cream colored head. Definitely turbid and milky black. Aroma is roasted and chocolaty. Flavor is of roasted barley, and black patton. Crisp burnt finish, but a mild malt bill to maintain very drinkable. Alcohol falls in at 6.5%. Bubbly texture.
Weizen Bock - Brewmasters reserve. Extremely hazy, orange amber. Off white cream color head. Entire lacing. Aroma is of wheat and kilned amber. Mildly biscuity. Rich and subtle hint of pears. Alcohol is high, but mouthfeel is crisp and dry. Almost viney, but still quite tasty.

The brewery is located at the end of the Amana "town" near a bubbling brook and a old fashion dam. Follow the signs, you'll find it. My first thought was, "Wow, that's rather a small establishment, I was expecting something so much larger." But inevitably I'm grateful for that because what they have currently is a cozy little building with a huge front patio, a deck (beer garden) and seating for at least a crowd of 50. We were there in December, but I could tell this place would be covered in hop vines in summer. There are turn-table benches out front, along with numerous other varieties of seating. The building takes on a rustic western look with weathered grey wood. Upon entry I was greeted by Tom, one of the owners who happily poured samples for us throughout our stay. Defined, this is their tasting room, which took on the appearance of more of a gift shop, yet with still the aged, rustic wood look to it. Inside were shelves and walls full of shwag (shirts, glasses, mugs) and other Germanic related gift ware along with sixpack and bomber sized bottles on display and for purchase. Planked floorboards and a tap system literally popping out of the cash register table gave a very unique look. Quite a variety and number of taps, including several soft drinks. Within, built into the far wall was a window that enabled customers a full side angle view of their bottling line, a massive contraption based primarily off a conveyor belt. There is even another room (aside for the two bathrooms around the corner from the entrance) which maintains a basic seating area complete with several metal patio sets as well as a massive flat screen TV. Each wall in this room has a hand touch from both owners, Teresa and Tom as well as the brewer, Chris. It's within this room that customers and publicans get a full frontal of the 24 bbl brewhouse as well as a peak at a couple of the brite tanks to the far right. (Definitely a plus, giving the brewhouse a face to the public). Ultimately, the brewery/tasting room took on a very cozy atmosphere, one that I have yet to encounter elsewhere. Its creaky floorboards and weathered paneling crossed with a modern dose of machinery just feet away really exemplified a great environment.
Overall the beers were good, especially the stout and pale. However I did notice a prominent graininess/grain husk to most of the beer.
Check them out:

Brewery Review: 46/50

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