Tonight’s beer was purchased last week from the beloved Morris Beer Store as part of a buying frenzy on my part. Overtime pay was a bit fruitful for me and instead of setting a nice tidy sum apart for a rainy day, I bought beer. It was a double sixpack day at the MBS.
My first choice was the Leinie’s Russian Imperial Stout which I wrote about last week. This choice was my backup. I had noticed on the shelf that there were about 4 or 5 new beers, all winter seasonals. A few Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers still remained on the shelf only to be overlooked by yours truly. But I did have my eye on a new winter beer from an unfamiliar brewery.
The beer in question was called Winter Skål, brewed by the Capital Brewery Co. out of Middleton, Wisconsin. I grabbed a bottle and examined the label: CELEBRATE WINTER and SEASONAL BEER flanked a rendition of the Capitol dome. BREWED IN WISCONSIN scrolled down at the bottom. A ribbon on each side said A RICH GERMAN TRADITION and A WISCONSIN ADVENTURE. Light blue on dark blue and perfect artwork made for a pretty picture. Nice and neat. No other description of the contents was provided except for the 5.5% ABV listing. Check out their website page for the beer here. It’s got some awards under its belt.
One thing that piqued my curiosity was the pronunciation of Skål. What did it mean and what did the little ‘o’ over the ‘a’ do the word. Here’s what I found out:
A skål is a Scandinavian toast of friendship and goodwill which may be offered when drinking, sitting down to eat, or at a formal event. Some fans of Scandinavian culture have popularized the skål beyond its native countries, and it can often be heard in many peculiar corners of the world, especially in regions with a large Scandinavian population. You may also see skål spelled as skal or skaal.
As a casual toast, “skål” can be likened to “cheers” or “slainte,” words which often pop up in bars as people salute each other before each round of drinks. Skål has become so associated with drinking that several companies which make beer and liquor have a drink called “skål” in their lines. In a reference to the harsh winters in Scandinavia, a skål is often a winter beer.
There it sat, on the floor of the garage like a Siberian Husky immune to the temperature. No energy was spent in chilling the beer but calories were burned when I retrieved the sixer from the garage and chunked in the kitchen fridge. At that time, the temp out there was 38°.
Beer time rolled around and I was ready to partake once again of this God-given gift of liquid bread. I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and rinsed it out and nabbed the first of the Skåls. I popped the top and noticed that the bottle had a twist-off lip. A minor disappointment that was duly noted.
The beer poured with a real nice crystal clear orange color and in this first glass, the bubblation was quite rapid and with very large bubbles. The head came up an inch of off-white creaminess and dissipated slowly. There was hardly any aroma but I did get a faint scent of a genuine lager beer.
The first sip had a lot of good body and was nicely sweet at the front with just a little crispness at the back. The taste filled up the tongue from top to bottom, left to right. Nicely delicious. The beer tasted quite like an Oktoberfest style beer but in this case, it had a more well rounded effect on the taste buds wherein great tastes were sensed all over the tongue.
The overall sweetness of this beer was offset by a slight bit of tart along the sides, just enough to bring back familiar memories of the October marzens only nicely malted. Each sip was a nice treat for the tongue and the swallows were sliding down as if on a brass pole. The beer was rather reminiscent of those German beers wherein they use that special yeast that gives it it’s unique flavor. This beer came close but didn’t have that distinctive Euro flavor to it.
By the second glassful, tongue and beer became friends and the tastes mellowed out. The sweetness stepped back as well as that faux Euro tartness but the body and brass pole swallow remained. It was a delight to drink this beer. Weighing in at 5.5% ABV, it’s almost sessionable based on your own body makeup.
Winter Skål would make for a great after work drink as well as at a poker game or billiards night. Darts anyone? With proper preparation, you just might find yourself drinking a better portion of a twelve-pack if that’s what you want to do. Nice and tasty with a bit of almost-Euro tartness and a good finish, this beer is a great addition to your your repertoire for the winter. Stay inside. Light a fire and have a beer. Skål! (Chëêrs!)
Taste: B+ > Lager in an ale disguise.
Smoothness: A- > Goes down like an oyster only without all the seawater taste.
Drinkability: A- > By all means I’ll have another.
Bang for the buck: B- > 6 beers for 10 bucks. Are you in the mood for this?
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Kinda clear. (sniff) Ooh. Smells smooth. (sip) Hmm. Kinda sweet. (sip) That’s pretty good actually. (sip) Not bitter, not really drying. (sip) It’s tasty. Especially when it’s nice and cold. (What? The beer or the weather?)
Q&A with Capital’s Brewmaster Kirby Nelson