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Monday, January 26, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 16.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Beer Here: Ouisconsing Red Ale from Central Waters Brewing
Ouisconsing Red Ale a laid-back beer for anyone trying to escape a long day of physical labor.
Ouisconsing Red Ale a laid-back beer for anyone trying to escape a long day of physical labor.
Credit:Robin Shepard

The beers of Central Waters Brewing Company have been available in the Madison area for nearly 10 years. You'll find them on local shelves in a nondescript six-pack carton, a cardboard box with one of the bottle labels slapped on its side. Despite this low-key marketing scheme, many of Central Waters' beers make a statement on the taste buds.

Over the course of a year, the brewery in Amherst makes about 18 different styles. Among beer fans' favorites are the Lac du Bay IPA and the Bourbon Barrel Stout. But as the early season of grilling heats up, a "box" of Ouisconsing Red Ale will make for a great addition to that backyard barbecue.

What is it? Ouisconsing Red Ale from Central Waters Brewing Company

Style: The Ouisconsing Red is in the general style of beers known as amber ales. As the name suggests, these beers range in color from amber to reddish-copper or even bronze. Their flavor emphasizes caramel maltiness with some hop character, but overall these are well-balanced and very drinkable beers.

Background: Ouisconsing is the Algonquin word used for the Wisconsin River. This beer was one of the first made by Central Waters when it began brewing in 1996. Central Waters got its start in the small central Wisconsin town of Junction City (about 10 miles west of Stevens Point) at the hands of homebrewing buddies Mike McElwain and Jerome Ebel. The brewery, now under different owners, bottles at its production facility in Amherst, and has a brewpub and restaurant in Marshfield.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Big malty nose, characterized by a sweet floral bouquet.
  • Appearance: A deep, hazy reddish-copper with a thick, soft, off-white head.
  • Texture: Medium-bodied and round.
  • Taste: Assertive caramel maltiness.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Malty with a light roasted nuttiness.

Glassware: This is a basic drinkin' beer that'll go down fast. It's a laid-back beer for anyone trying to escape a long day of physical labor. For that, try it in a Mason jar.

Pairs well with: Perfect for satisfying your carnivorous habit. A cheeseburger, French fried potatoes, big kosher pickle and a cold Ouisconsing Red will make it seem like Jimmy Buffet's paradise.

Rating: Two Bottle Openers (out of four).

The Consensus: B (good) from Beer Advocate and a 47 from Rate Beer.

The Verdict: This is a very pleasant beer with a beautiful reddish-copper color. There is a firm caramel maltiness, but it lacks distinction within the large catch-all category of amber ales. Even so, it's worthy of the best burger you can put next to it.

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