August Schell Brewing Company is a small brewery in New Ulm, a little piece of Germany in southern Minnesota. I can scarcely hear the name of this brewery without thinking of the Schell’s of my youth, which I never personally tried, but heard from my parents and other adults caused headaches rather than buzzes. Sometime in the mid 90’s, Schell began brewing beers with flavor, instead of just the old Schell’s and Schell’s light. They focus on German styles and their interpretations tend to be fairly reliable.
This evening, I visited Pub 500 in Mankato, Minnesota. I hadn’t been there in a year or so, and didn’t recall their beer selection being stellar, so I surveyed the taps on my way in, expecting to be drinking scotch or bourbon. When I spied the tap handle for the Dampfbier I was intriqued, so I asked about it. What I learned is interesting: In the late 18th century in a poor area of Bavaria, brewers were not able to keep fermentation temperatures low enough to brew lagers. Unfortunately, they had no ale yeasts readily available, so the brewers had to travel to other breweries in the region in search of weissbier yeasts, which they then put to work fermenting their all malt beers. Schell has undertaken to revive this style, and in my opinion the result of their labors is definitely better than the headachy Schell’s of yesteryear. Details follow.
August Schell Bavarian Forest Dampfbier
Sampled on tap in a pint glass at Pub 500, Mankato, MN.
The bartender’s pour resulted in no head whatsoever – just a thick collar of off-white foam. The beer itself is dark copper in color.
Dampfbier carries strong banana aroma with clove, and hints of white pepper and honey. A lot of weissbier qualities in the aroma without any citrus qualities.
Banana washes over the palate first, accompanied by a beautiful smooth sweetness on the tip of the tongue. Clove and bubblegum are next, with notes of bread and a light nuttiness. This is all followed up by a slight perception of sourness and a bready aftertaste.
A generous bite of carbonation is reminiscent of a weissbier, but carries a more substantial body over the tongue. This is an enjoyable beer that I hope to have again before the keg at Pub 500 runs dry. I wish Schell had bottled it!