Preparations for my annual vacation to the shores of Lake Superior always involve finding just the right beer to enjoy while listening to the lapping waters from the porch of the cabin. Thankfully, Capital Brewery has me covered this year with a new seasonal beer named Lake House -- perfect for anyone who enjoys spending some time near Wisconsin's waters during the summer.
What is it? Lake House from Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin.
Style: Lake House falls generally into the style of a Münchner (Munich) Helles, which is a light golden to straw-colored German lager known for being medium-bodied with an emphasis on malt character and low hoppy bitterness. The maltiness is soft, smooth, with a bready or toasted quality. The Helles ("light" in German) should be very clear and bright. It ranges in alcohol from 4.5% to 5.5%.
Background: Lake House is the 2013 summer seasonal for Capital, which previously released Weizen and Fest the last two years. It was featured at several of the brewery's special events during the recent Madison Craft Beer Week. Bottles just started turning up in liquor stories.
Lake House is based on the brewery's former, and well-known, Bavarian Lager. Capital's production supervisor Brian Destree uses pale and Munich malts with American Mt. Hood hops for a German-American combination of a lighter, flavorful summer brew. "The reason for making Lake House was self-indulgent," says Destree. "This is the type of beer that I like to enjoy in summer." Lake House is light, clean and easy drinking -- so much so, in fact, that around the brewery it has picked up nicknames like "lawn mower lager" and "porch pounder."
It ends up at a light 4.6% ABV with just 18 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Six-packs sell for around $8-$9. The beer is also available in 12 packs of cans ($15-$16), and can found on tap at many Madison-area bars.
- Aroma: Clean, light malty, a hint of bready and biscuit tones.
- Appearance: Clear, yellow-golden, with a medium-soft, off-white head.
- Texture: Light- to medium-bodied. Some softness to the mouthfeel.
- Taste: A clean biscuit-bready maltiness. A firm flavor that is smooth, yet clean.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Light, crisp, with a touch of hops that leaves a clean impression.
Glassware: This is a nice beer for the basic pilsner glass, to celebrate its color and soft white head.
Pairs well with: The light, clean flavor of Lake House is a great match for summer fare like salads and sandwiches. It won't compete with assertive and spicy entrees. However, you won't find a better companion for a light summer lunch, so keep it simple, with something like a BLT or tuna salad.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: Capital Lake House meets expectations for a not-so-heavy summer beer, and one with a firm malty backbone and solid flavor. It's certainly not a beer with lingering flavor, but it's not supposed to be heavy and filling. It offers a firm, light, bready sweetness with a crisp, clean finish. While I don't like the term "lawn mower beer", this is definitely one to keep handy as activities in the summer heat make you crave a lighter-bodied brew. Lake House offers flavor, yet it's clean, low in alcohol and easy drinking -- a nice middle-of-the road beer for the fridge and ideal for the muggy months of June to August.