Badger State Brewing Company
Badger State Brewing of Green Bay opened in 2013.
With the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, it's time to think about a beer to enjoy while watching them play. As a show of statewide support for the team, MobCraft Beer and Badger State Brewing have teamed-up to make a beer they call Dubbel Czech. It weds the basic qualities of a Belgian dubbel with the spicy-hoppiness of a Czech pilsner. If you're an Aaron Rodgers fan, this brew is a good choice for toasting touchdowns!
Style: The Belgian dubbel is a medium- to full-bodied, red to dark brown ale. This beer is known for hints of chocolate and caramel aroma, with rich and malty spicy-sweetness. Dubbels are known for distinctive yeasty qualities with esters of banana and dark fruits like raisin and plum. They often range from 6-8% ABV. Originating in monasteries in the Middle Ages, these beers emerged to become an accepted style in the 19th century.
Background: Dubbel Czech is the result of a new collaborative relationship between MobCraft and Badger State Brewing. Both of these young breweries launched in 2013, and are run by craft beer enthusiasts in their mid- to late-20s. MobCraft co-founder Henry Schwartz says it all started about a year ago when he stopped by the Badger State brew house on a whim. Just a short walk from Lambeau Field, the brewery is located in Green Bay at 990 Tony Canadeo Run, a street named for a legendary Packer who played in 1940s and '50s.
"I just wanted to see if the guys were around," says Schwartz. "I knew they were about the same age as us and figured we would have a lot in common." The meeting proved to be a good bonding experience, and Schwartz says that during that first chance meeting, he and the Badger State owners talked casually about brewing together. He even left a few MobCraft beers at Badger State for them to sample later.
"We got to brainstorming and thinking about beers, and how it would be fun to launch something for a Packers' game," explains Schwartz about how their collaboration grew over last year. That relationship resulted in Dubbel Czech, which was released at the end of 2014, just in time for the Packers' final regular season home game on December 28.
The beer's label depicts a striking resemblance to the well-known Lambeau Leap, with likenesses of founders from both breweries cheering on the action. As MobCraft co-founder Giotto Troia explains, "the name is in reference to a celebratory action from, quite possibly, the most talented individual to have ever thrown a lopsided ball in the city of Green Bay." However, neither brewery will specifically identify the specific individual, team, sport or any commercial endorsement that might be suggested by the name Dubbel Czech.
The label illustration for Dubbel Czech was designed by Samantha Mack and Dillon Nelson, both graphic artists from Madison who help with MobCraft's marketing. "At the last second, we decided to put a smoke screen over the football player's face because the likeness was just too great," laughs Schwartz.
Earlier versions of the label that were not used included a robe-wearing monk that looked like Vince Lombardi. "It's a Wisconsin thing," adds Schwartz. "We have so much fun with beer and of course football, and to be able to make a legitimate beer and still pull this off is fun."
The recipe for Dubbel Czech was worked out this past fall between brewers Andrew Gierczack of MobCraft and Sam Yanda of Badger State. "Both Andrew and Sam really loved the Belgian yeast because they had worked with it before. They started with that flavor and then worked in the hops," explains Schwartz.
The beer was brewed in early November in MobCraft's operation at the House of Brews on Madison's east side. In late November, staff from both breweries came together for the bottling day. Altogether, MobCraft and Badger State produced about 1,400 bottles of Dubbel Czech, most of which have been distributed into the Madison, Green Bay and Milwaukee markets.
Swartz says the initial reception to the collaboration between MobCraft and Badger State has created a lot of buzz among Wisconsin craft beer enthusiasts, and both breweries are open to working with each other again. That's likely to happen in time for Madison Craft Beer Week, which runs May 1-10, and would continue with Green Bay Craft Beer Week over May 11-17. In recent years, collaboration brews have become a major part in these annual beer celebrations.
Called a "blond dubbel ale" on its label, this beer is really a Belgian dubbel at heart. Dubbel Czech made with Abbey, Aromatic and Pilsner malts, and fermented with Belgian yeast. It departs from traditional aspects of the style with additions of Czech Saaz hops, which are considered a German noble variety and are known for crisp, spicy and herbal bitterness. The beer ends up around 7% ABV, and sells in single 22-ounce bottles for $7-9 apiece. This is a limited release, but both breweries are hoping it'll be around for all of the remaining Packer games, even on up to the Super Bowl.
Next up for MobCraft is an India black ale named Night and Day. It is made with puréed whole vanilla beans, dark malt and lots of hops. Draft Magazine named it as one of its favorite six vanilla beers in spring 2014, and it should return to shelves in late January.
- Aroma: A very light floral hoppiness that intermingles with a faint yeasty aroma.
- Appearance: Hazy, orange-copper, with a medium soft tan head.
- Texture: Medium bodied and bubbly.
- Taste: A firm, modest malty sweetness to the start. The yeastiness lies in the background with subtle hints of fruit dark fruitiness. The hops provide some balance, but this really isn't a bitter beer.
- Finish/Aftertaste: There is a touch of Saaz hops that linger, though the light earthy and fruity hints of the Belgian yeast are more evident.
Glassware: The Belgian dubbel is typically best enjoyed in a goblet or chalice to appreciate the color and yeastiness. Meanwhile, beers with Saaz hops work well in a Willi Becher where the mild herbal and spicy aromas are focused under the nose. However, Dubbel Czech, is a beer to enjoy while watching football, so a hearty glass mug works best to hoist one high when Aaron Rodgers throws a touchdown pass or even scores one himself, complete with a Championship Belt celebration!
Pairs well with: Dubbel Czech is a beer that offers a food pairing challenge, given how the yeasty and earthy sweetness of the yeast blends with the herbal qualities of the Saaz hops. But try it with entrees that have a mild but firm sweetness of their own, like stews and soft, buttery cheeses. Carr Valley Cheese Sweet Vanilla Cardona is a goat milk cheese with light hints of caramel and nutmeg that bring out some of the same flavors from the beer's yeast.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: Dubbel Czech has something of a split personality. It combines the malty and yeasty body of a Belgian dubbel with the spicy attitude of Saaz hops from a Czech Pilsner. However, don't pour a glass expecting the full fruity flavor or crisp hoppiness of those styles, respectively. This beer never achieves either, but that's what makes it distinctive.
Dubble Czech is really a beer that reflects some improvisation and departure from strict style interpretations that's central to MobCraft's approach to brewing. It's that creativity and adventuresome nature that makes this beer worth $9 per bottle.
While the identity of a good beer should not be all about packaging, the pun in the name Dubbel Czech and its Lambeau Leap label will ensure some attention at the height of the NFL playoffs. This beer may not have the same appeal in summer, but then again, football season never ends for Packers fans.