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So many breweries, so little time…
I had never heard of Badger State Brewing until I saw a bright display of three of their beers in 16-ounce cans. After I picked up one of each style, I learned they operate out of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field District. I had no idea Lambeau had its own district.
Because I love a good brown ale, I kicked off this triumvirate of tastes with Bunyan Badger English-Style Brown Ale. ”Roasty, Sweet, Malty, Spicy” is the description on the can.
When I taste something calling itself an English-style brown ale, my palate is expecting some very definite flavors from a caramelly malt-forward beer with very little hop presence.
Imagine my surprise when this hoppy and spicy brown hit my unsuspecting mouth. It has a long hop finish, which is not characteristic of an English-style brown. The spiciness is mainly from rye, I assume, which is an ingredient I’m sure I’ve never run across in an English-style ale before. Bunyan Badger is certainly unlike any English-style brown I’ve ever had. Being unique is fine, but I consider it false advertising to call yourself an English-style brown ale and then deliver something else. BSB should really call this an American-style brown ale, which says something very different, something more along the lines of “Your Limey rules don’t apply to my style of brewing!”
Stranger still, the logo is set against a Scottish tartan, which is a very different style of brown from English-style. And I don’t think any self-respecting Scot would want to be identified in any way with English-style anything.
Ultimately, it’s not a bad beer, but I sense some confusion in style and design, both of which seem to have trumped substance.
Next up was Badger State’s Green Chop Session IPA, which the can says is “Earthy, citric, crisp and resinous.”
I can’t carp too much about those words, although, despite its accepted use in some tasting notes, the word “citric” suggests to me a purely chemical term meaning derived from citric acid, but I’ve seen it used in tasting notes, so why quibble?
The back of the can says “six unique American hop varieties” are used “for a less bitter, easier-drinking IPA with a light, bright, fresh-cut flavor.” Green Chop definitely has a grassy green finish to it, but, all in all, it is a tasty American IPA and a fine session beer.
The yellow and red Walloon Belgian-Style Witbier is the one that really caught my eye. This one is self-described as “Bright, tangy, smooth, tart.”
I hate to even bring this up, but this is another style-over-substance slip by the brewery. Witbier (aka Belgian white) is actually a product of Flemish – or northern – Belgium, while the French-speaking southern part of the country – Wallonia – is famous for Saison. While the styles are similar – both are hazy, refreshing beers often associated with summer – they are different beers. Witbier is always brewed with spices and Saison often is, but not always. I know one brewer who uses rye to spice his Saison. Witbier always uses wheat and sometimes oats. Saison sometimes uses wheat but not always. All of these things make a difference. They are two different beers from two different regions of a great beer nation. Of course Walloon Witbier sounds better than Flemish Witbier (it’s the “phlegm” part that doesn’t work), but this is our shared beer history, and this only helps to obfuscate rather than enlighten.
But overlooking that historical faux pas, this is a nice, chewy wit with an intense orange peel tang. Call me a fan of Walloon Witbier.