College Connoisseur: Three beers to toast the autumn wind

Brandon Van Meter

Brandon Van Meter

The autumn wind is blowing in the trees. SDSU’s campus once again is filled with brimming scholars who strive to succeed, while the downtown bars return to their normal pace of reserved insanity. Yes, another fall semester has quickly sacked us back into reality. As a returning senior, I welcome all of you back to Brookings for another year of college life.

Sierra Nevada Anniversary AleSierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Historically, I have been rough on Sierra Nevada. They brew beer for the top echelon of beer drinkers – folks that enjoy flavor that is large and in charge and never compromises. Much like Sam Adams to the east, these guys have gotten huge on the wave of specialty brewing. And while I have been tough on Nevada’s brew, I wanted to give their Anniversary Ale a try. For 2009, Nevada celebrated its 1980 founding by releasing the Anniversary Ale – an Indian Pale Ale.

As always, IPAs are very bitter and punch the drinker with an overload of metallic hops. The Anniversary Ale does not stray far from its counterparts in this regard. As I poured, the liquid formed into a thin foam on top of a nearly opaque, golden yellow body. With the first sniff and sip, I begin to wonder why I am enduring another glass of liquid punishment. The initial taste was bitter and did not disappoint. However, as soon as the beer entered the back of my mouth, there came a pleasant surprise. This IPA left my mouth with minimal turbulence and actually left little to no aftertaste. Congratulations, Sierra Nevada. Your 29th Anniversary Ale was everything an IPA should be, without any extra punches. As I worked through the glasses, I quickly realized how pleasant this beer was to drink. Instead of grimacing, I think about going back for another six-pack.

Verdict: Grab it

Hefe “R” WeissenMillstream Brewing Company

While I always seem to hate on IPAs, hefeweizens are always one of my favorites. Brewed from wheat, these beers are almost always sweet and filling. More often than not, the dominant flavors constitute lemon and other citrus-based flavors. Millstream, however, would beg to differ.

Not surprisingly, there is a thick texture and a dark gold color to this wheat beer. A thick head matches the amber waves of the beer as I began to enjoy this warm-flavored beer. The base of this beer is predominantly citrus, but these “Iowegians” have thrown a monkey into the wrench. Beyond the normal, fruity flavors of hefeweizens, a massive slap of clove takes over the taste. For some, this may be off-putting. However, I recommend this for those wanting to garner a new appreciation for different styles of beer. While one could spend a Saturday playing bags with Hefe “R” Weissen, this isn’t a simple brew. Refreshing, yet complicated.

Verdict: Grab it

Whirly Bird Oatmeal StoutBrau Brothers Brewing Co.

In my opinion, these guys have risen to the status of local heroes. Outside of Schells in New Ulm, Minn., Brau Brothers is one of the only breweries in the area that offer such a wide gamut of options. Located 23 miles outside of Marshall, Minn., Brau Brothers has appeared in heavy force in Brookings. Both Skinner’s Pub and the Brookings Liquor Store have picked up a large portion of this brewery’s line.

Whirly Bird, an Oatmeal Stout, looks like thick beer. When poured, the brew fills the glass with dark black ink and a thin brown head. The smell and initial taste are filled with oatmeal and chocolate, along with good presence of alcohol. Much like a good red wine, the beer fills your stomach and will warm the blood a few degrees. Stouts are designed to fill the glass with complex, dark notes. From my perspective, the beer does a good job giving the drink a rich taste and experience. While this might not fit well with a frenzied night of college partying, it would work excellently with a nice piece of beef. If you feel physically up to it, I would advocate picking this one up while at the pub, or for a night at home.

Verdict: Grab it