It's only early May, but for more than a week now I've been thinking about mosquitoes. That's because the newest beer from Lake Louie is called Mosquito Beach. Owner and brewmaster Tom Porter named the beer after a mosquito-infested swimming hole that once belonged to his Uncle Louie -- yes, that's the "lake" in the name of the brewery. So just in time for summer and the arrival of those pesky little insects, Porter has created a beer with a little buzz.
What is it? Mosquito Beach from Lake Louie Brewing in Arena, Wis.
Style: Mosquito Beach fits into a style known as California common beer, widely referred to as steam beer. The modern interpretation of the style has been defined by the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, which trademarked the name Anchor Steam Beer in 1981. Because of that, other breweries often shy away from using "steam beer" in their names.
The style is a medium-bodied beer and bubbly from high carbonation. It is known for a light but sharp, hoppy aroma that can have hints of fruitiness. Expect some of that light fruity tone in the main flavor profile, which mingles with a light grainy-maltiness and even some toasted caramel notes. The style emerged as an attempt to make a lager-type beer without strict refrigeration controls. The beer is fermented at temps that are on the high end (warm) for lagers and the low end (cool) for ales. The style ranges from 4.5% to 5.5% ABV.
There are differing opinions about how "steam" became used to describe the style. Since the brewing approach can create a beer with a high amount of carbon dioxide, when it's tapped, the high pressure makes the sound of letting off steam. However, the Anchor Brewing Company says the name has more to do with how they pump the hot wort to the roof of the brewery; when the cool breezes of the Pacific Ocean blow in, it creates a steam cloud above the brewery.
Background: Tom Porter makes this beer with an ale yeast that is fermented at lower temperatures than most ales like. The result is a crisp and clean brew. The main malt is Black malt, which Porter uses in such small amounts that it imparts a reddish tint to the beer rather than a more characteristic deep black color. Porter says it's the combination of the Black malt and the special yeast that gives Mosquito Beach its light fruity hints of black cherry.
Porter released a test batch of Mosquito Beach in draught in late April in the Madison area. Based on the initial feedback, he toned down the hops a bit to bring out more of the Black malt features. There's still a modest amount of hops, which gives the beer a dry finish. Mosquito Beach sells in six-packs for around $9. Its alcohol content is around 6% ABV.
Watch for Lake Louie Prairie Moon to return this summer. The beer wasn't offered last year, but Porter is planning to bring this Belgian wit back in July.
- Aroma: A light fruity nose.
- Appearance: Clear, reddish bronze with a medium soft and tan head.
- Texture: Medium-bodied and bubbly.
- Taste: Some maltiness is up front with a mild yet firm tone of black cherry fruitiness.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Dry hoppiness, hints of light smoky-roastedness, with a lingering fruitiness.
Glassware: The basic bar pint or bar pilsner will call attention to the brilliant reddish bronze, almost blood-like color of this beer.
Pairs well with: Mosquito Beach will be great with steaks or pork chops on the grill. Some fish, like trout, are also good companions. Its crisp and fruity sharpness will go well with grilling, but not with entrees with heavy sweet barbecue sauces.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: Mosquito Beach is destined to be one of the more popular beers of the upcoming summer season. I like it a lot for its light black cherry tones and dry finish, which give it a unique character that's refreshing and sharp. However, at 6% ABV, it's a little bigger than most summer brews. Tom Porter laughs about it tasting like a "lawn mower" beer, but he's quick to add that you better not be on the mower when you're drinking it. I agree with Porter that it's the perfect lawn mower beer, but for another reason -- if you have more than one, you won't want anything to do with yardwork.