Schell’s Tap Take Over @ House of Pizza

Schells Tap Take Over House of Pizza

Schells Tap Take Over House of Pizza

 

Friday night, my wife and I visited the House of Pizza downtown location for a Schell’s Brewing tap take over. There were 11 beers on tap but we were here for four new brews we haven’t experienced yet. Most of the lineup reads like your typical Schell’s loadout: Firebrick, Schmaltz Alt, and Goosetown. What piqued our interest were the two new sours, a brand new sessionable  helles and the newest Cave Aged series beer.

We started with their Fort Road Helles. Farmed with barley all grown within a 15 mile radius of the brewery in New Ulm, MN, this is a story or brewing local. The beer itself is fantastic, very malty and bready but not cloying. I did get a little bit of graham cracker in it as well but it doesn’t detract. Clean and very flavorful for a helles (meaning “light” in German), which are usually on the thin side. Think a little heavier lawn mower beer at 4%, very drinkable on hot summer days.

House of Pizza Downtown St. Cloud

 

We them moved on to the two recently released sours from Schell’s Noble Star line. First up was the Harmony of Spheres. A light and lemony berliner weiss, both in aroma and flavor. Clean, tart lemon with a touch of berry flavor. Heavily leaning on the Lemondrop hop, this is a nice easy, refreshing summer drinker, if a little high to have many at 6.5%.

Next up was the brand new (not on the site yet) Tidal Disruption. A Berlin style wheat ale ages on blackberries. The description on the sells sheet for the event  was mighty and gave a very long-winded account of how it was made. For all the details, this seemed to be a confusing mess. The blackberries were overwhelming leaving this feeling more like drinking a port wine instead of a soured ale. Maybe some age will take the aggressive berry flavor down. Only time will tell.

Our last stop for the evening was the Cave Aged Barrel Aged Lager #3.  A doppelbock aged in whisky/bourbon barrels, aged in caves! Ok, the caves part is true but mostly hyperbole. Great doppelbock maltiness but it’s taken over by vanilla. A lot of vanilla. On the nose, on the palate, on the finish. Also present is oak, low bourbon character, and milk chocolatey aftertaste. I also picked up subtle darkfruit – maybe even some blackberry without the sourness.  It is a 10%-er but doesn’t drink like it. A sipper because of the full mouthfeel and overpowering vanilla flavor.  As it warms (it took a while to finish this), the milk chocolate comes out more along with some rum-like note. Maybe 1/3 of the vanilla next time?

Overall, I think this was a great lineup of beers to showcase Schell’s new experimental styles along with the usual up-and-coming summer fare. Search worthy: Fort Road Helles and the Harmony of Spheres.

Side Observation

This isn’t my first tap take over event (not by a long shot) and I’ve observed something I don’t care for. There were distributor representatives in attendance so you would assume there would be a lot of interaction among the customers. The workload easily distributed, right? Except for one rep speaking briefly to us as we sat down and ordered our firs beer, we didn’t see any of the reps interacting with anyone that wasn’t already in the industry. Other salesmen, distributors, retail outlet managers, personal friends, etc. There ended up being a large throng of people talking, laughing, and having a good time, but it was a very closed loop and didn’t extend out to the rest of the bar.

At other events, especially when the beer is provided by either a small independent distributor or the brewery themselves, the representatives are almost always mingling, sharing samples, talking with the customers, even handing out swag most of the time. They’re eager to talk to potential customers. talk about the product and gain feedback. Last night was simply not the case.

To me, on the surface anyway, it seems as though the larger distributors (which last nights provider was) simply don’t care. I sensed very much an “old boys club” mentality and the event was simply a job – they had to be there, and bringing more friends with simply made the time go by quicker. As a customer, and an avid craft beer fan, it wasn’t very accommodating or approachable if I had questions or simply wanted to thank them for bringing such great beers.

It doesn’t make me dislike the brewery of course, simply the distribution company. Yeah, it bothers me. Would that bother you?