If you were a small Milwaukee microbrewery, would you dare venture into the ballpark named after a big brewery that is so much larger it can hardly be called your competitor? Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee.
Style: Fixed Gear is an American Red Ale. The style is known for its light copper to light brown color and assertive bitterness from American hops. There is a maltiness to it, though, there should also be a modest bitterness. The red ale is a medium-bodied beer with a light amount of fruity esters in flavor and aroma. They commonly range in alcohol from 4.5% to 6% ABV.
Background: Fixed Gear is a beer with edgy bitterness that gives it an attitude in its assertive malty and hoppy flavors. The beer is a tribute to the bicycle couriers of Milwaukee, especially those who ride fixed-gear bikes. It takes someone with energy and audacity to jump on one of those bikes with one gear and no brakes, and that's what this beer is about, says Lakefront Brewery owner Rush Klisch. Its label displays a gear sprocket rosette ringed by bike tires.
Klisch says his brewers had been working on a similar beer for a Milwaukee pub when they decided to expand on a red ale recipe and make it more assertive, with the hoppy bitterness found in a pale ale. It's made with 2-row pale and dark caramel malts, and it gets its bitterness from Chinook and Cascade hops. The Cascades are dry-hopped, adding citrus and floral aromatics. Fixed Gear finishes at 6.5% ABV.
If you're not heading to Miller Park this summer, you can still find Fixed Gear in several Madison-area liquor stores. It's sold in 22-oz. bottles for about $5. However, if you're buying one at a Brewers game, its goes for $10/bottle.
- Aroma: Assertive citrus bitterness.
- Appearance: Bright reddish-copper and a rocky tan head.
- Texture: Medium body, sharp.
- Taste: There is a solid maltiness to this beer, even a light fruity accent in the background. But generous amounts of hops give it a sharp resiny bitterness throughout.
- Finish/Aftertaste: The citrus and piney bitterness linger.
Glassware: This beer will stand up well in a wide-mouth glass mug. Its aromatics don't need to be focused, so a wide-mouth glass works fine. A big mug seems to bragging about the beer's crimson color, and deservedly so.
Pairs well with: As noted, Fixed Gear is a great baseball beer. Its firm bitterness is wonderful with a brat and the call of "Play ball!"
Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: Fixed Gear is a very flavorful red ale. It has a hoppy bite for those who enjoy bitterness, and lots of basic malty body that gives it depth and complexity. I really enjoy this beer for its rich taste. While it's not the bubbly light-bodied beer you think of for summer, it certainly is a beer that offers a lot for backyard barbecues. It appeals to me as a great ballpark beer because it has body and flavor to be savored -- like a victory over a divisional rival.