The Wisconsin-made, buy-local movement continues to gain momentum among the state's brewers and beer fans. Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee is the latest to introduce a beer made with Wisconsin-grown malt and hops. The brewery is laying claim to producing the first 100% Wisconsin-made beer since Prohibition with the introduction its Local Acre Lager, a big and unique golden pilsner.
What is it? Local Acre Lager from Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee.
Style: Local Acre doesn't fall neatly into a specific style. Its characteristics align most closely with the Imperial Pilsner, a stronger version of the typical big brewery premium lager. Among the qualities of an Imperial Pilsner are more assertive bitterness, greater maltiness and a higher alcohol content that commonly ranges from 6.5-9% ABV. The Imperial Pilsner is growing in popularity as an emerging beer style, though it is not widely recognized yet.
Background: Local Acre is made with organic six-row barley grown on a farm near Montello. The hops are Nugget and Cascade, which are sourced from farms near Hortonville and Mazomanie. Lakefront president Russ Klisch has been working directly with local farmers for the past three years to help them grow what he needed for this beer. He is also one of the driving forces in the industry attempting to not only link farmers to his own brewery, but likewise to other beermakers through cooperative networking arrangements. Klisch says he's hoping that the release of his Local Acre will encourage other brewers around the state to try their own hand at Wisconsin-only ingredient brews.
Lakefront expects Local Acre to be on store shelves for only a few months. That's because there was only enough malt and hops harvested this fall for about seven batches, and the brewery just made its fifth batch during the first week of the year. Local Acre is an unfiltered lager that finishes at about 7% ABV. It is sold in 22 ounce bottles for about $5.
- Aroma: Mostly a floral hoppiness, with light hints of fruity citrus notes.
- Appearance: A bright, hazy, golden bodied with a thick marbled tan head.
- Texture: Medium-body and bubbly.
- Taste: A mild, but firm malty and spicy body with a bitter hoppy background.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Citrus-type hoppiness with a lingering dryness, and warmth.
Glassware: A tall clear Willi Becher or Tulip Pint glass with an inward taper near the rim will show off this beer's bright golden color, hold its rocky-marbled head, and focus the citrus nature of the Cascade hops.
Pairs well with: Local Acre has a distinctive citrus and spicy hop quality that will pair well with a range of lighter foods such as salads and seafood. A baked salmon (a.k.a. Wisconsin Trout) would be especially welcome with this beer.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: Local Acre Lager is a beer that gets a little extra love because of what it is -- locally made with local components. I found the flavor somewhat unique because of the way the malty and spicy background dominates amidst citrusy notes from the Cascade hops. It's medium bodied and bubbly, which leaves the impression that it's light and crisp. But beware; there is spicy warmth in the finish from the 7% ABV. Local Acre makes for a nice meal beer, and with its 22-ounce bottle size it's similar to having a bottle of wine over the course of dinner.