3 Sheeps Brewing Company
Baaad Boy Black Wheat Ale
3 Sheeps Brewing started providing draught beer to Madison last spring. Now the new Sheboygan brewery is bottling its standard line-up of beers. By early December, these bottles should be on local shelves, including Baaad Boy, a black wheat ale that was the brewery's first offering and has since become its best-seller.
What is it? Baaad Boy Black Wheat Ale from the 3 Sheeps Brewing Company of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Style: The black wheat ale is an American twist on the German Dunkelweizen. It's a medium-bodied beer that ranges in color from brown to black due to additions of dark and roasted malts. The flavor profile is mostly balanced, with low hop bitterness or bitterness from the malts. Wheat is a significant component to the overall grist, but not so much that it can be considered a Hefeweizen (in which 50% of the grist is wheat). Black wheats may have some fruitiness; however, the more common yeasty esters of banana and cloves are not as dominant as in the Dunkelweizen or Weizen. Brewers may also use a more standard ale yeast instead of strains used in making weizens to ensure a cleaner-tasting beer. American-style black wheats will range from 4% to 7% ABV.
Background: Baaad Boy Black Wheat Ale was the first beer offered by 3 Sheeps when it opened last March. It's made with dark roasted Midnight Wheat, which gives the beer body but not the harsh, burnt tones that are sometimes associated with dark barley malts. It's made with a light amount of Columbus hops and fermented with a standard ale yeast strain.
Brewery co-owner and brewmaster Grant Pauly, 30, is part of three generations behind the Wisconsin Concrete Products Company in Kiel. In 2011, he left the family business to launch 3 Sheeps. The brewery is located near downtown Sheboygan, in a building once the site of a Wigwam sock factory, and more recently the Hops Haven brewpub. When it closed, Pauly bought its equipment and set up shop. Once the bottling line is running at capacity, he estimates the brewery's annual output to be around 2,000 barrels.
Pauly's family is prominent in Wisconsin's brewing history. His great-grandfather, grandfather, and two uncles were owners of Kingsbury Breweries in Sheboygan, and his great uncle Felix was brewmaster at the company's facility in Manitowoc. Starting out with a soda business, the family purchased the Kingsbury brands during Prohibition in 1926, started brewing in 1933, and remained in production until 1962, when G. Heilmann Brewing of La Crosse bought them out. At its height, Kingsbury made nearly 240,000 barrels across four facilities, three in Wisconsin and one in Iowa. "It has always been a romantic industry to me," says Pauly. Kingsbury was later acquired by Pabst, and in recent years marketed as a non-alcoholic brand.
Pauly describes his own approach to brewing as making beers that are one off from normal. In coming up with the recipe for Baaad Boy, he wanted his brewery to have a dark beer, but something different from what he considers the more conventional porters and stouts. Baaad Boy differentiates 3 Sheeps from the crowd, and is the brewery's best seller.
3 Sheeps will be bottling three other beers along with Baaad Boy. Rebel Kent the First is an amber ale, and was voted "Fan Favorite" at this year's Kohler Festival of Beer. Really Cool Waterslides is an American-style IPA, its name a reference to the unexpected twists and turns the come from the business of brewing. And Cirque du Wit is a Belgian-style Witbier, named for Pauly's grandmother Janet, who was a circus performer in the 1930s. When six-packs arrive, they are expected to sell for $8-$9.
- Aroma: A light malty nose.
- Appearance: Black, with hazy brown hues and a marbled tan head.
- Texture: Medium-bodied and bubbly.
- Taste: A light, silky maltiness in the beginning, with a subtle fruity background.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Some light roasted chocolate tones, but overall a very clean finish.
Glassware: Many bars will serve Baaad Boy in the basic bar pint. However, the Willi Becher, with its inward taper near the rim does a better job of showing off the black color of the beer and holding its bubbly-marbled head.
Pairs well with: Baaad Boy looks heavy and thick, but this is a medium-bodied, easy-drinking dark ale. It will go well with dishes that are flavorful, but not overly spicy, and even those that offer a slight sweetness, like roasted chicken, mild chili, or soups featuring mushrooms and potatoes.
Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: Baaad Boy is a great introduction to a black wheat. I found it much cleaner and better balanced than a Dunkelweizen, without that style's fruity sweetness. This brew, while balanced, has a slight malty sweetness. It's similar to a mild porter with hints of chocolate and caramel tones up front, but the Midnight Wheat adds color and body without the sometimes-burnt astringency of roasted barley. I like its smooth flavor and the light bitter accent from the Columbus hops. The black color may look big and thick, but Baaad Boy is medium-bodied and drinkable -- if not seductive. It's a beer, and a style, that I'm excited about seeing in six-packs.