BY Steve Lonsway
As I passed through my favorite beer outlet in search of the next beer to write our article on, it was easy to get lost in the vast sea of labels. Unique names, flashy colors, eye catching graphics, crazy bottles, it’s all there for the beer aficionado to enjoy. But what really grabbed my attention this round was Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter. A relatively discreet package with colors of browns, tans and blues, yet catchy enough with their iconic heron proudly perched as if in the wild.
The Stone Arch Brew team was excited to sample this beer as a couple of us have not had it in a while. Yet another claimed it to be his “go-to” Porter as he’s ripping it up on his snow board at Nordic Mountain (seems to me he’s spending his time in the bar rather than on the slopes, but that’s understandable).
We chose to use standard English pint glasses for this sampling as it is a true English style beer. Although not our favorite glass, it does lead nicely to bring the smells of the beer up to your nose as you taste it.
The Mudpuppy Porter poured dark brown with a light brown-to-tan head. Carbonation was evident, yet the head diminished rather quickly. As we held the glass up to the light, we noticed deep shades of amber and brown colors which is what one should expect with the Porter style.
The nose has scents of brown sugar, black licorice, semi-sweet chocolate and coffee. An earthy nose is noticed with a gentle smoke coming through. Quite complex in the nose which, again is typical in this historic style.
If you think our descriptions of ‘the nose’ sounds complex, wait until you taste it! Numerous flavors erupt from the glass. From a caramel, malty-sweet start to the dark chocolate tones that sail through the middle, and a bitter chocolate and oatmeal dryness tapering at the end. This beer flows smooth from start to finish.
Speaking of finish; it finishes smooth and sweet. A bit of bitterness pops out at you as the flavor fades. The ‘mouthfeel’ is creamy, but is a bit thin at the end. Maybe a bit prickly from the carbonation, but very enjoyable nonetheless.
Central Waters Brewing Company got their start back in 1996 in an old Model-A dealership building built in 1920 in Junction City, Wisconsin. The original owners worked diligently for over two years to get the brick building ready, and equipped it with used dairy equipment to make the beer. Months later the Central Waters Brewery was born. A few more months later, a gentleman by the name of Paul Graham was hired to take over the brewing duties so the original owners could continue to focus on their full time jobs.
Three years down the road the brewery went up for sale. Paul Graham teamed up with Clint Schultz, an avid beer guy, to purchase the brewery. Paul and Clint had their sights on packaging their fine brews in six packs for the retail market and acquired an automated bottler. A short time later the old and over-worked brew kettle developed an unrepairable crack. This forced the duo to purchase a new brew house.
In 2006, Clint Schultz left the brewery, and in comes Anello Mollica. One year later they moved the operation to their current location in Amherst, Wisconsin.
Central Waters has always been known for creating wonderful barrel aged beers and have several awards to prove it. To us what is most impressive is their dedication to renewable energy. Their use of solar panels has been a signature of their brewery since they made their home in Amherst and that’s just a start to what they do to minimize their carbon footprint. They take many steps, often incurring higher costs, to help protect our mother earth. For that alone you should rush out and buy Mudpuppy Porter (or any other of their fine offerings).
FINAL WORD: Great beer made by great dudes in a great small Wisconsin town with our great earth in the forefront of their operation!