Monday, June 01, 2009

Schell's Blonde

About 150 years back, Augie Schell started a brewery in New Ulm, Minnesota. It was just one of hundreds of breweries in the state. I recall being told that, as late as 1950, there were more than 200 independent brewers still operating in Minnesota; by the time I moved to Minneapolis in 1972 there were just a handful left.

August Schell Brewing Company was one of them; the outfit keeps on keeping on. Now that I'm 1300 miles away in Texas, it's hard to be certain just why Schell has survived and thrived, but I put it down to good brewing – and hanging on 'til the micro-brew trend caught on. (In this regard, it's acting like Shiner's in Texas.) Today, the New Ulm brewery lists two “original” brews, five year-round craft beers, two Grain Belt brand beers and seven – count 'em – seven “seasonals.”

So here I am in Minnesota on during a gorgeous, completely unseasonal early summer week. Sure enough, the craft-brew culture is alive and well here. I stumbled onto Schell's blonde double-bock, Maifest, and I gotta say it's outstanding. I'd asked about what the restaurant was offering and when Nick-the-Manager said he had this seasonal from Schell so I had to sample it – it's part of my job, right?

Smooth as smooth and malty sweet (a “unique” taste), Maifest is a seasonal specialty beer offered in the spring months. It is brewed with a blend of three different specialty malts and the finest imported and domestic hops. It's a Helles Bock-style beer from Staatliches HofbrÀuhaus in Munich, classic “May beer” and ohboyohboy it is tasty!

I hereby report that this is fine beer* on a Monday afternoon at the beginning of June. If you don't believe me, double-check with Barbara who helped me sample it. Years ago, Ranier Brewing in Washington state made a hit of advertising “the beer here.” Today, in rural Central Minnesota, Schell's is still showing why that counts.

As nearly as I can tell, the advertising is word-of-mouth big-time. So here's the word. Try Maifest before its season is over. Ta from the road...

*Served and consumed at The Fishtale Bar and Grill (no “e” on the end, bless 'em), New Prague, MN.

No comments: