One of the latest breweries to set its sights on the Madison Craft beer market is the Brewing Projekt of Eau Claire. Brewmaster William Glass transports his beers to Madison himself every few weeks, bringing as much as he can fit into his pickup truck. Right now, “the passenger seat is full, the bed is full,” he says, “so we may be needing a bigger delivery vehicle.” WISCoast Ale is the brewery’s current beer. Glass says it’s reminiscent of hoppy West Coast pale ales; however, its name is more about his brewery being on the “west coast” of Wisconsin, next to the Mississippi River.
What is it? WISCoast Ale from the Brewing Projekt of Eau Claire.
Style: WISCoast Ale falls between a pale ale and a hoppy wheat beer. Pale ales are light yellow-golden to copper color. The pale ale offers medium to high hop bitterness in flavor and aroma, a medium body and, commonly, 4.5-5.5 percent ABV. WISCoast departs slightly from the pale ale because it’s made with red wheat, which adds a soft mouthfeel, frothy white head, and a haziness to the beer’s golden color.
Background: WISCoast was the first beer to be offered outside of the brewery’s taproom. It debuted in April 2015 as “34,” a reference to the brewery’s 34th pilot batch of beer.
“We had all these crazy ideas for the beers we wanted to make and the different types of ingredients we were going to use,” says Glass. “But, we also thought we still needed to have a beer that is approachable, sessionable and crushable,” he says. That’s reflected in the beer’s modest 4.9 percent ABV and 38 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Amarillo hops give it crisp citrus aroma and flavor, along with hints of apricot and clementine oranges. The beer has become a core year-round offering for the Brewing Projekt and is among the brewery’s best sellers. WISCoast Ale sells in four-packs of 16 ounce cans for $9-$10.
The Brewing Projekt is in the process of expanding. That means there’s a good chance Madison will soon see more of Glass’ beers. By summer he’s hoping to move into a larger building of approximately 8,000 square feet, over twice the size of his current brewery. It will include outdoor seating along the Chippewa River in downtown Eau Claire.
Aroma: Bright citrus hoppiness.
Appearance: Hazy orange-golden color. A thick, soft, white head.
Texture: Light- to medium-bodied with subtle softness.
Taste: A mild bready, wheaty start that quickly gives way to sharp orange citrus hoppiness.
Finish/Aftertaste: Mild, yet firm, dry citrus hoppiness.
Glassware: The Willi Becher is great for focusing the hints of apricot and orange aroma.
Pairs well with: The light crisp citrus flavors match well with lighter foods, especially fried or baked fish. It’s also good with creamy cheeses like brie and Gouda.
The Verdict: Lately, I’ve been suffering just a bit from palate fatigue, brought on by all the big and bold malty winter brews. So WISCoast came at just the right time as I was looking for something a little lighter. This is a medium- to light-body beer with fresh, crisp citrus-orange hoppiness and a dry finish — an unexpected and welcome addition to the typical American wheat beer. This beer is great now, but it’ll be even better in the warmer months ahead.