Winter Skål from Capital Brewery
A new season of beers has arrived -- in the form of Winter Skål from Capital Brewery. The Middleton brewer has just released its annual installment of this amber lager, and has increased production this year, so you'll likely find it well into February.
What is it? Winter Skål amber lager from Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin.
Style: Winter Skål is an American amber lager. The style represents a broad array of copper-colored lager beers. In the middle of the spectrum is a beer defined by clean malty character, with a deep amber to reddish-copper color, solid caramel flavor and malty aroma. It is not an overly sweet beer; rather, it's clean and well balanced, with low hoppiness. Some light roastedness is not uncommon. American amber lagers are medium-bodied and range from 4.8% to 5.4% ABV. They are very closely related to the Vienna-style (red) lager that emerged in the mid-1800s.
Background: Winter Skål has been a regular seasonal for the Capital Brewery since the early 1990s. The beer has won several awards from the Beverage Testing Institute, including a gold medal in 2001 and a silver medal in 2007.
Winter Skål is made with two- and six-row (base) brewers malts, along with caramel, Munich and honey malts. Brewmaster Kirby Nelson adds about one pound of Liberty hops for every barrel of beer, which lends some crisp bitterness to the background and finish. But overall, the malty tones still define Winter Skål. The beer finishes at 5.5% ABV, and its sells for around $7/six-pack.
Capital originally called this beer "Winterfest," but in 1999, Coors Brewing threatened legal action against the Middleton brewery because it had trademarked that name for one of its beers. Skål (pounced "skole") is the Scandinavian word for "cheers."
- Aroma: Light maltiness to the nose.
- Appearance: Deep, clear copper with amber hues and a thick, tan head.
- Texture: Medium bodied and smooth.
- Taste: Firm malty, caramel flavors with hints of hoppy backbone.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Mildly malty.
Glassware: The Willy Becher, with its inward taper near the lip, will focus the nose, hold the head and show off the brilliant copper color.
Pairs well with: Winter Skål is a flavorful beer that goes well with a range of foods. It's a nice companion to mildly sweet soups and stews. However, with its firm malty character, it also stands up to grilled steaks, and even brats and other sausages.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: You'll always find Winter Skål in my fridge this time of year. That's not only because it's a great meal beer, but also because it's something that I like drinking with my feet up in the recliner after a long day. It's a solid choice among current seasonal brews because of its firm, smooth caramel flavor and nice blend of crisp bitterness from the Liberty hops.