Brett Kihlmire
Beer City

A Guide to Sprecher Brewing Co.

Milwaukee’s first craft brewery offers a wide range of unique brews. Which one would best fit your palate?

By - Sep 10th, 2014 09:57 am
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Founded in 1985 by Randy Sprecher, Sprecher Brewing Company is Milwaukee’s first craft brewery. Featuring a lineup made entirely of old world European styles acquired while Randy was studying the art of brewing in Germany, Sprecher has won numerous awards over the years. Here is a guide to Sprecher’s year-round offerings and what makes each of them unique. Cheers!

 

Special Amber

Special Amber

Special Amber

Style – Vienna Lager

ABV – 5%

Bitterness – 3/5

Rating – 7/10

Awards – Gold Medal – Vienna Style Lager – LA County Fair 2006,

Recommendation – Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys beer. Special Amber is an intermediate beer sitting between the light and dark. For those who enjoy a light beer, it is a bit more potent than a Pilsner or a Weiss, but not as bitter or strong as a dedicated dark. And for dark beer drinkers, Special Amber is slightly lighter than a dark lager, but not so light that it fails to deliver potency or deep flavor.

Thoughts – With a deep golden color, and a pearly white long lasting head, Sprecher’s Special Amber is worthy of Austrian beer halls. As expected of a European style beer, Special Amber is potent both in alcohol and flavor. Featuring a mild aroma and bitterness derived from Cascade and Mt. Hood hops, the beer is simplistic in this approach, but it’s malt is more complex. Made with a somewhat unorthodox pairing of four malts such as the expected Caramel and Munich malts, Special Amber has a complex and distinctive flavor that is hard to put a name to. That said, Sprecher’s Special Amber stands in a league of its own in Milwaukee’s beer market.

 

Hard Ginger Beer

Hard Ginger Beer

Hard Ginger Beer

Style – Fermented Ginger Ale Soda

ABV – 4.7%

Bitterness- 1/10

Rating – 10/10

Award – N/A

Recommendation – Highly recommended for those who enjoy ginger ale, especially the unique variety offered by Sprecher. Also, this particular ginger beer makes a great key ingredient in the famed Moscow Mule.

Thoughts – While certainly not a true beer, Sprecher’s Ginger Beer is welcome on this list because it did go through the same fermentation and carbonation process as its purebred comrades. And so, at first glance the Ginger Beer has a clear, pale golden color similar to a pale ale. It has a weak, foamy, pure white head that dissipates in a few seconds of even the most reckless pour, and it has an inviting sweet aroma. The Ginger Ale flavor is weaker than its non-alcoholic counterpart and lacks that distinctive ginger-derived spiciness that makes it stand out in the market. Nonetheless, Sprecher’s Hard Ginger Beer is crisp and full of flavor with a dry finish, making it a wonderfully drinkable alternative beer that many will surely try to emulate.

 

Hard Root Beer

Hard Root Beer

Hard Root Beer

Style – Fermented Root Beer

ABV – 5%

Bitterness – 2/10

Rating 10/10

Award – N/A

Recommendation – Likely favored by dark beer fans and adventurous root beer fans, especially those who enjoy a dry stout.

Thoughts – Like its ginger beer cousin, Sprecher’s Hard Root Beer is not a true beer. And though it’s a soda made into a beer through the fermentation process, it certainly comes close. Featuring a rich black color similar to the Black Bavarian lager, a long lasting and frothy off-white head, and a tantalizingly sweet aroma, Hard Root Beer meets all of the preliminary marks of a fine beer.

Upon tasting, the root beer goes down smooth. The sweet and complex flavor of Sprecher’s award winning root beer is unchanged. Hints of honey, vanilla, and sassafras root shine brightly before giving way to a dry finish. Root Beer purists may call foul on the dryness of this product, but keeping in mind that this product is no longer a soda, but an alternative beer, it’s a delightful change of pace for the serious beer connoisseur and an excellent bridge into the dark beer world for the avid root beer fan. And at 5 percent, it’s not the most potent beer, but a few of these are enough to get off kilter, especially since the alcohol is overridden by the sweetness of the honey.

 

Black Bavarian

Black Bavarian

Black Bavarian

Style – Kulmbacher style Lager

ABV – 5.8%

Bitterness – 5/10

Rating – 10/10

Award – Gold Medal – Robust Porter – LA County Fair 2006, Bronze Medal – European Darks – Great American Beer Festival 1988.

Recommendation – Highly recommended to the serious dark beer lover. This may be a little strong for newcomers.

Thoughts – Black as night and coupled with a long lasting tan head and a prominent coffee-like aroma, Black Bavarian is a great beer right from the get go. Featuring a complex flavor that pairs the flavors of dark chocolate and caramel, Black Bavarian is smooth and malty. Not overly bitter and a little sweet, the beer is a perfectly balanced tribute to the Bavarian tradition of high quality dark lagers.

 

Hefe Weiss

Hefe Weiss

Hefe Weiss

Style – Bavarian Wheat Ale

ABV – 4.2%

Bitterness – 2/10

Rating – 9/10

Award – N/A

Recommendation – Recommended to pilsner and light beer lovers. This beer is one of the weakest beers in the lineup, but highly drinkable.

Thoughts – Featuring a cloudy, pale golden color, pure white head, and a light, hoppy aroma, this beer can be easily mistaken for a pilsner. That’s because it is brewed in a Bavarian style with Tettnanger hops commonly found in German pilsners. But being that this brew is made with wheat and not barley, and is warm fermented, it will never be considered a pilsner, even if it looks almost identical. Regardless, Hefe Weiss is a fine beer with a mildly bitter, citrusy flavor that isn’t overwhelmed by the two varieties of hops used, making it one of the easiest of Sprecher’s beers to drink in large quantities.

 

Irish Stout

Irish Stout

Irish Stout

Style – Irish Dry Stout

ABV – 5.73%

Bitterness – 3/10

Rating – 8/10

Award – Gold Medal – Foreign Style Stout – LA County Fair 2006.

Recommendation – Dark lager and stout lovers will enjoy this beer. Not recommended for those who prefer a lighter beer such as an American light, cream ale, or pilsner.

Thoughts – Pitch black with a creamy tan head and an inviting aroma of coffee and chocolate, this beer is a true Irish stout. Upon taking a sip, a strong, complex flavor of coffee and dark chocolate is detected, as is expected of a stout. The beer is as smooth and creamy as it appears and features a dry finish, which makes this fine tribute to Irish-style stout one of the best offerings in the Sprecher lineup.

 

Pub Ale

Pub Ale

Pub Ale

Style – English Brown Ale

ABV – 4.5%

Bitterness – 2/10

Rating – 10/10

Award – N/A

Recommendation – recommended to anyone who enjoys beer, especially fans of dark and amber lagers, and red and brown ales.

Thoughts – Featuring a transparent amber hue, a thick and creamy off-white head, and the aroma of seven malts and English hops, this beer hits the spot right away. Upon first sip the beer is smooth and complex. The combination of seven malts including wheat, chocolate, caramel, Munich and two kinds of pale malt give this beer a flavor that evolves with each sip. One moment you taste a sweet hint of honey, another you taste the bittersweet of dark chocolate. Regardless of what you taste with each sip, this beer always finishes clean and crisp, making the Pub Ale one of the best beers in the Sprecher lineup.

 

0 thoughts on “Beer City: A Guide to Sprecher Brewing Co.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Hard Root Beer is horrible. Many of our friends have tried it (independent of each other) and all agree it tastes like a bad Zima/malt liquor mixed with some oversweet root beer. Everyone bought a 6 pack from different stores in different locations, so it can’t be just one bad batch. We can’t give away the remainder of the 6-pack. Stay Away.

    If you want a true root beer taste with alcohol, go with Art in the Age Spirits “Root” Organic Liqueur. It is 40% ABV (80 proof) so watch that, but it tastes so much like root beer it is spectacular.

    (I don’t work for any of these companies mentioned, just a person who has experienced these products first-hand).

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