Pick a Six at Koepsel’s

Krista Fornear, regional sales & marketing representative for Sprecher Brewing Co of Glendale, Wis., was pouring Sprecher products at Koepsel’s the afternoon of July 18, including the brewery’s latest entry, the deliciously refreshing Ginger Beer, a 4.7 percent beer brewed with ginger and lime. Photo by Jim Lundstrom.

“Holy cow, I’ve never seen this much beer!”

Karina Oram hears things to that effect from a lot of customers at Koepsel’s Farm Market on Highway 57 north of Baileys Harbor. It’s no wonder with 478 beers and hard ciders to choose from.

“Some people are overwhelmed. You can tell by the look on their face,” Oram said.

The great thing about most of those beers is that they are available in individual bottles and cans so you can create the six-pack of your dreams, all for the price of $9.99.

That means a great opportunity to try some beers you don’t know.

“If you buy a six-pack you don’t like, what do you do with the other five bottles? There are only so many brats you can cook in beer,” Oram said.

It’s a full-time job keeping up with all the craft beers on the market today, but Oram said she tries.

“I have been to the Kewaunee beer fest, the Baileys Harbor beer fest,” she said. “My new favorite beer I tried at Baileys Harbor Beer Fest, Vanilla Stout from Stone Arch (in Appleton, Wis.). Now we carry that.”

While there is a heavy emphasis on Wisconsin craft beers, you can also find national and international brands, as well as gluten-free and non-alcoholic offerings. You can also find a good selection of 22-ounce bomber bottles.

If you are one of those “holy cow” customers, Oram says, just ask.

“Definitely ask questions. We’re here to help. We’ll do our best to help them find what they like,” she said.

Here’s what I picked up during a recent stop, and all were new to me.

I started with Brunette Nut Brown Ale from Nebraska Brewing Co. This is a nice tribute to English browns. Soft, smooth, full of deep brown bready flavors. A lovely nut brown.

Next up was Eurotrash Pilz by Southern Tier Brewing Co. Hey, I like this pilsner. It’s more malt forward than most American attempts at pilsner, so immediately puts it closer to style than other sad craft attempts at pilsner. Too often it seems as though the brewer doesn’t really understand the style, but that is not the case with Eurotrash Pilz. This seasonal from Southern Tier is very good.

No. 3 was California Lager from Anchor Brewing Co. I’ve had plenty of Anchor Steam and Anchor Porter and other beery iterations from the San Francisco brewery, but this was my first time running across their lager. Very nice, malty lager, which is what I would expect from this venerable granddaddy of the craft brewing industry. There is also a sharp hop bite from the Cluster hops. This is a mighty fine lager. Love to see it on tap somewhere.

No. 4 is a very pleasant surprise – VJ Black Imperial Stout from Atwater Brewery of Detroit. The first sip is a creamy chocolate punch to the palate, followed by a karate chop of charred coffee and pure darkness. Deep, dark plummy flavors. And a whopping 11 percent alcohol. Yum, I love this beer!

The penultimate beer is Raspberry Ale from the Dark Horse Brewing Co. of Marshall, Mich. I get more of a sour than a raspberry nose from it, which is slightly disappointing because the smell of raspberries is so invigorating. Head dissipates quickly. There’s some raspberry flavor, but, again, more of the sour end of the spectrum. There’s nothing wrong with this beer, quite refreshing. I’d just like a rounder raspberry flavor.

Finally, I finish with Maple Nut Brown from Tommyknocker Brewery of Idaho Springs, Colo. I love a good brown ale, and I have brewed with maple syrup and sap in the past, so am always happy to try a brown brewed with maple syrup. I’ve found that it can add a slightly astringent finish to a beer, and I get that here. It comes on with a big creamy brownness, and finishes with a sharp astringency that I have to believe is from the maple syrup. Still, a very drinkable beer.

So, go to Koepsel’s with some styles in mind and indulge yourself.