Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Return to the Motherland

I was in New Ulm last weekend visiting the parents and it had been almost four years since I've taken a tour of Schell's Brewery so I had yet to enjoy a brew in the new tap room. The agenda was a relaxed one so a Saturday afternoon tour seemed not only doable but mandatory.

I wasn't sure if they'd be doing tours on a 5 below day in January but not only were they doing them, the tour was full. The last tour I did ended up being a private tour because it was only me and the four guys with me who were there and it ended up being awesome because we got to see places that large groups don't get to see due to space constraints and it was our own Q&A session. I didn't expect to get that lucky again but part of me hoped we would.

For the most part, the Schell's tour isn't too technical nor do you get to see any of the actual brewing process. In fact, it's pretty much just a history lesson but luckily Schell's has quite an intriguing history since it's the second oldest brewery in the country, second only to Yuengling.

You'll get to tour the mini museum filled with artifacts from Schell's past, you'll get to hear stories about how the brewery survived the Sioux uprising without a scratch, how they made it through one of the darkest times in our country's history, how they've grown over the years to what they are now.
I've been on several tours at the brewery and even though they've been spaced over the years, I can safely say that that unless you go twice in the same weekend you're never going to get the same tour twice. So even if you have been on the tour before, don't let that deter you from checking it out again.

The worst case scenario is that you pay $3 to get to sit in the tasting room and try samples of about a half dozen different beers and then pick a full glass of one to finish your tour off with. Not a bad deal at all.

One bit of news is that the beer has been chosen to commemorate the brewery's 150th anniversary. After a series of candidates was released, the public chose Hopfenmalz as its pick to represent the historic year. I was very disappointed when our tour guide told us that this beer wouldn't be available until sometime next month but an impromptu stop at Cashwise Liquors proved our tour guide wrong. I sure hope they get the guy correct information so he doesn't mislead any more people who are looking for this beer.

I'll post a review of the beer sometime soon, I did try a bottle on Saturday night but my cold symptoms prevented me from getting a good gauge on it. What I can tell you though is that it was a pretty hoppy beer and very much in the style that you'd expect from Schell's.

I'll leave you with two very strong recommendations. First, make sure you get to New Ulm sooner than later for a tour of this brewery. Its history and the beauty of the grounds definitely make it worth your time. I'd also recommend doing it sometime this year because there seems to be a lot of cool stuff going on for the anniversary. (Just make sure you don't go during the festival-which-shall-not-be-named because it'll be way too damn crowded for you and I'll be sure to tell you all about it after I go anyway). Second, make sure you try a Schell's Snowstorm this winter. They change up the recipe for this seasonal every year and it's a pretty damn good Baltic Porter this year.

Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi!

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