Latest beer in the August Schell Noble Star Collection pays homage to classic American Lager
It is hard to deny that Schell’s Brewery is hitting on all cylinders lately. Minnesota’s oldest brewery has proven themselves to be force in the marketplace while not being afraid to innovate on tradition. Cypress Blanc, August Schell Brewing’s newest release and latest in the Noble Star Collection, is a perfect example of taking tradition and twisting it just a bit.
As with all the Berliner Weisses in the Noble Star Collection, Cypress Blanc was fermented in historic cypress wood tanks from 1936 that 6th generation brewmaster Jace Marti reconditioned by hand.
In their previous life the cypress tanks were used nearly exclusively for the production of Schell’s Deer Brand, a classic American Lager. That’s right. Schell’s has brewed American Lager for a long time with traditional local ingredients (corn). While the appeal of American Lagers may be lost on some market segments, Schell’s has never ran away from their history. In fact, Schell’s and the Marti family have always owned their brewing history proudly. Jace Marti rightfully took umbrage with the Brewer’s Association definition of “Craft Beer” before it was changed in 2014.
The use of an experimental American Lager recipe to make Cypress Blanc proves how inconsequential these ingredients can be when defining “craft beer.” Ask a Belgian brewer about using adjuncts, I dare you. I’d rather see consumers concerning themselves with consistency, off-flavors, and unfair business practices, rather than trying to label a beer as “true craft.”
“Cypress Blanc is lighter bodied and very dry with a uniquely complex flavor profile and a pleasantly tart acid[it]y that is totally different than anything that would have been aged in these tanks before,’ said Jace Marti, Assistant Brewmaaster.
The Brettanomyces yeast used to give Cypress Blanc that unique tart flavor pushes the alcohol level to 7.4% ABV, about double what is typical for the style. Berliner Weisses are usually very lower in bitterness, and true to form Cypress Blanc has an IBU of 4. The hop aroma and flavor you will pick up comes from Hallertau Blanc, a new German hop variety often compared to the hard to source Nelson Sauvin hop. The Hallertau Blanc hops lend flavors and aroma characteristics that play well with “Brett.” Look for notes of pineapple, gooseberry, white grape, and fresh lemongrass.
Cypress Blanc is a dry, tart wink and nod to a tradition that shows Schell’s can make “craft beer” that can stand up next to any other craft brewer in the country. Look for it on store shelves now in hand-filled caged and corked champagne bottles.
Jace Marti talks about the Star of the North Collection on Minnesota BeerCast