Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Supper Club

Capital Brewery
Middleton, WI

Style: Lager
ABV: 5%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

One of the latest trends to be making the rounds in some craft beer circles is the “pre-Prohibition” lager, brews culled from nearly century-old recipes before Prohibition and the homogenization of American culture sent us down the adjunct-based, watery path of macro-swill that we’re only now pulling ourselves out of. The dirty little secret, of course, is that many U.S. brewers were using adjuncts before Prohibition as a way to save money and smooth out the harsh six-row barley they were forced to brew with.

Tonight’s featured brew isn’t exactly a “pre-Prohibition” lager, however, but a post-Prohibition one. Although not based on any past recipe, its inspiration comes from the regional Midwest brews of the ’50s, ’60s, and even ’70s, before the Lager Wars gobbled up or destroyed the last remaining blips in the rapidly blanching American beer heritage. Although these beers were brewed with adjuncts like corn and rice, and came from the same aesthetic place as their mega-sized brewing cousins—i.e. the accounting and marketing departments—a lot of them still retained some “house” character, for better or for worse. These were the brews that thirsty folks drank by the goblet-, glass-, bottle-, and can-full when they hopped into cars and cruised over to the local supper club on Friday nights for grilled prime rib and deep-fried fish. And these are the brews that Capital brewmaster Kirby Nelson was channeling when he come up with his brewery’s newest release, Supper Club.

It pours (from the can!) a pale straw with a short, slightly off-white head. The first whiff is a little DMS, grainy malt, and a short blast of hops. After that first sniff, however, the hop aroma is significantly less and less, until, no matter how hard I sniff or how many breaks I take in between smelling coffee beans to cleanse my nostrils, I can’t detect it again. But it stays indelibly in my memory, and just screams “You’re father’s beer!”

Obviously, and especially compared to virtually all craft brews, this one is light bodied, but not as light as I’d expected. Compared to any macro lager it’d be medium-to-heavy. Or, as the shit beer marketers like to say, “full bodied.” After a kind of watery start, the sip turns into a sugary sweet middle, then soft, grainy malt notes. The finish has some very subdued hop spiciness, but nothing remotely bitter. As the beer warms up, it gets sweeter—sugary sweet, not malty—quite a bit so by the end.

Just like imperial IPAs or fruit beers aren’t for everyone, Supper Club isn’t for folks who like their brews to have more body and bite. I’ve never subscribed to the “lawnmower” beer concept: on a hot summer day sometimes you’re just in the mood for a Bud Light. I’ve always argued that there are plenty of locally brewed craft beers out there that are just as refreshing as any shit beer. Sometimes, in fact, I am in the mood for something lighter than an imperial stout, but I’m never, ever in the mood to give my money to fuckheads who lie to me or pretend to be something that they’re not.

Which is why I’m giving Supper Club four mugs. I’m sure when you saw that rating you thought Kirby had bribed me with some crazy concoction like a barrel-aged Imperial Doppelbock or something, but this brew is the perfect answer to dumbasses who refuse to drink locally brewed craft beer—if they won’t drink this, then they’re bigger beer snobs than I am. At 5 percent ABV it’s an ideal session beer, and is great for having in the fridge for when your philistine friends/family/neighbors come over, or throwing a twelve pack of cans into the cooler for tailgating at the ballgame. Just feel free to do what I do and throw a couple cans of Surly Furious in there, too, to keep things interesting …

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on April 20, 2010.
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