Guide to Sprecher’s Chameleon Brewing
The spin off brewer offers a diverse set of American-style beers.
Launched in 2010 by Sprecher Brewing Co. founder and namesake, Randy Sprecher, to deliver Milwaukeeans a taste of finely crafted American style beer, Chameleon Brewing is an extension of the Sprecher brand. Though it offers just four beers as of 2014, Chameleon Brewing’s current lineup includes four of today’s most popular American beer styles. But can a company that made a name for itself delivering strictly European-style beer make waves crossing over into the American theater? Let’s find out.
Style – Witbier
ABV – 5.4%
Bitterness – 2/10
Rating – 8/10
Recommendation – Highly recommended to witbier, pilsner, light, and Belgian ale fans.
Thoughts – Pale gold with a frothy white head and a festive aroma from a variety of spices, Witty is an attractive beer from bottle to glass. While the citrus flavor sometimes associated with witbier is subtle, it’s certainly not absent. Notes of orange and apricot are detected, especially in the aftertaste, as well as coriander and perhaps even cloves. The flavor profile is complex, but each addition is subtle enough that it leaves its mark on your palette without overpowering something else. Overall, with its smooth taste and mild finish, Witty is proof that the witbier style can be made into a highly drinkable session beer.
Style – American Pale Lager
ABV – 4.2%
Bitterness – 1/10
Rating – 3/10
Recommendation – Favorable to those who truly enjoy light beer.
Thoughts – Sporting a deep gold color, frothy white head, and mildly hoppy aroma similar to a European pilsner or American Adjunct, this beer is promising at first glance. Unfortunately, the flavor leaves much to be desired. Though it has a prominent cereal grain flavor, the beer is rather watery and weak on the bittering hops. Furthermore, it has a strangely sour aftertaste, possibly from an off-batch or the beer is reaching its expiration date. And while not a terrible beer, Fire Light doesn’t do well to stand out as a must try beer. In fact, it’s quite similar in flavor to Miller Lite, quite possibly accomplishing its goal. It is a light beer after all.
Hop on Top
Style – American Pale Ale
ABV – 4.2%
Bitterness – 2/10
Rating – 3/10
Recommendation – Favorable to those who enjoy light and adjunct beer but are looking to expand their horizons.
Thoughts – Featuring a deep gold color, snowy white head and a mildly hoppy aroma, Hop on Top hits all of the marks of an American take on the IPA style. Unfortunately, it fails in the flavor department. The moment the beer hits your tongue you are greeted with a watery taste that severely lacks the explosive hop flavor expected of a beer of this style. Furthermore, what little aromatic flavor there is doesn’t taste like hops, but rather like a flower of some sort, perhaps elderflower. And though such an ingredient is confusing to the palette, the aroma is quite tantalizing and hangs on one’s breath for a time just as an APA should.
Unfortunately, the IPA/APA crowd is a stiff one and this beer may not be well received by the more pretentious beer drinkers. On the plus side, the beer is crisp and goes down smooth. It just needs more hops. Regardless, those who are looking to cross over into the IPA/APA world will find this beer to be a fine entry point.
Style – American Rye IPA
ABV – 5.7%
Bitterness – 8/10
Rating – 7/10
Recommendation – Not for the faint of heart. This IPA is favorable to those who enjoy strong bitters, IPA’s, IBA’s, and APA’s. This one is potent on the hops. Even more so than some well-known IPA’s such as Lakefront.
Thoughts – With a deep amber hue, creamy long lasting head, and invitingly hoppy aroma, Ryediculous is an appealing beer from the start. Though highly bitter from start to finish, a sweet, malty flavor of the rye shines through the hoppy haze and finishes extra dry. This beer tastes exactly how it sounds; ryediculous. Though because of its bitterness and strength, it doesn’t fit well with the rest of the lineup. Being that this is a full bodied beer coming in at over 5 percent with a flavor profile that has the strength to knock you back a step, this beer doesn’t fit well into the category of a session beer. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is up for debate, but this beer is not to be taken lightly.
While a few of Chameleon Brewing’s current offerings failed to hit the high marks for this particular beer lover, one thing that deserves to be noted is that these beers are brewed with the intention of being session beers, meaning they’re conditioned to have a low alcohol content to allow for multiple beers to be consumed in a sitting. This is a stark contrast to Sprecher’s flagship brand, which features beers coming in as high as 11% ABV. Regardless of the intention, much of Chameleon Brewing’s offerings are sure to please those who are used to light beer or those experimenting with new styles. And because the brand is still relatively new, perhaps they’re still experimenting. Here’s to hoping. Cheers!