O'so Brewing Company
Doe in Heat carton label
The fall ritual of deer hunting begins soon in Wisconsin. For some, it's not just the hunt, but the annual participation in deer camp that's a rite of passage. Deer camp evokes images of a sparsely furnished cabin in the woods, with meals of venison, jerky, chips and marginally acceptable, inexpensive beer. Stereotypes aside, Doe in Heat, latest fall seasonal from O'so Brewing, is a classic American pilsner that's sure to improve the beer selection at deer camp.
What is it? Doe in Heat from O'so Brewing Company of Plover, Wisconsin.
Style: Doe in Heat falls into the standard classic American pilsner style, a beer that that is generally light- to medium-bodied, straw- to deep-golden in color, with balanced flavor and a clean finish. It's considered to have more flavor, especially from the malt, than modern light American lagers popularized by large breweries. This is a lager style of brewing that emerged from immigrant German brewers, who came to the U.S. and learned to brew with ingredients that were native to America. The classic American pilsner may involve adjuncts like corn and rice, but only in small amounts. Those grains provide fermentable sugars without creating much body, so the beer's texture and mouthfeel remain light. These American pilsners generally range from 5% to 6% ABV.
Background: Deer hunting attracts a large number of Wisconsin sportspeople every fall. Brewmaster Marc Buttera, himself a hunter when he's not too busy making beer, created Doe in Heat as a tribute to those who find the time for deer camp. "The beer celebrates the deep heritage of deer hunting. It's such a huge season for our state," said Buttera.
In the spirit of the hunt, Buttera and his brewers created a little game with the beer's marketing and imagery: In every case of 24 bottles (four six-packs) they inserted four bottles with a slightly different label, one that shows a male deer with the label "Buck in Rut." Buttera says the idea reflects the randomness associated with hunting of sometimes getting a buck and sometimes a doe.
The brewery is asking those who do get a bottle of "Buck in Rut" to email a photo to the brewery so it can be posted online. (Details are found on the bottom of the six-pack carton.) Photos of an actual deer are not required, but the brewery is hoping that fans of the beer will want to show off their doe or buck bottle, their camp, or their hunting party.
O'so Doe in Heat hasn't been in found in bottles since 2009. It finishes at about 5% ABV and 18 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), and it sells for around $9/six-pack. The beer is made with Magnum and Tettnang hops, pilsen malt, and a light amount of corn. Buttera took time to get the amount of corn just right so you detect it lightly in the aroma and sweetness, and enough so that drinkers may recognize those common flavors often found in big brewery products.
O'so Brewing is celebrating its fifth anniversary this weekend in Plover. The brewery is hosting an anniversary party, from 4-10 p.m. on Saturday, November 10. Over 40 different O'so beers will be tapped during the celebration, including the brewery's well-known year-round brews and many one-time special releases like bourbon-barrel-aged and sour beers. Admission is $15/person, or free if you bring a donation for Toys for Tots.
O'so emerged from Buttera's brew supply business in 2007. In the autumn of 2011, he moved his brewery to a new location just off I-39 on County Road B in Plover so he could expand and include a Wisconsin-beer focused tap house.
O'so has also released a new beer in its regular year-round line up of six-packs. Memory Lane, a German-style pilsner, just started appearing on store shelves in Madison. The brewery is donating 5% of profits from the beer to Alzheimer's research in Wisconsin.
- Aroma: A light grainy and soft sweetness from the corn.
- Appearance: Bright yellow golden color, and a medium soft white head.
- Texture: Light- to medium-bodied, with a bubbly, round mouthfeel.
- Taste: A mild but firm grainy maltiness with a nice crisp accent of hop bitterness.
- Finish/Aftertaste: The bitterness remains in the finish, but so does an accent of sweet graininess from the corn.
Glassware: The classic bar pilsner glass with a slight inward taper at the lip will focus the nose and hold the soft head. However, deer hunters may end up just drinking it from the bottle.
Pairs well with: The beer has a firm, yet still mild flavor, so it can be easily overwhelmed by assertive foods. However, given the beer's name, venison or summer sausage, young cheddar cheeses, and even mild chili make nice companions.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: This is a challenging beer style to make, and when it's done well, it deserves attention. Doe in Heat is a very nice representation of the classic American pilsner, notable for its crisp, balanced and clean flavor. There is just enough corn for light aroma and flavor without it tasting vegetal or too grainy. It'll remind you of a big-brewery beer, but the malts and that touch of corn seem more flavorful and better balanced. It's also nicely accented with the German Noble hops. There is a modest amount of alcohol, so it might be a little strong to be a true sessionable beer.
However, it's still nice for relaxing among friends after a day of whatever you've been enjoying. Overall, Doe in Heat a very drinkable light-bodied beer and one worth hunting down.