If, on a map of Wisconsin, you drew one line north from Madison and another west from Green Bay, those lines would intersect, allowing for a degree of artistic license, in Amherst, Wisconsin, home to Central Waters Brewing Company.
Until Memorial Day weekend—the bulk of which I spent shivering at a lakeside campsite in chilly Wisconsin—I’d never heard of Central Waters. For me, the ulterior motive behind any Wisconsin trip is restocking my inventory of New Glarus, the beer that first piqued my curiosity in Midwestern microbrews.
But on the second New Glarus run of the weekend, at Jake’s Liquor in Sheboygan, my priorities underwent a cataclysmic shift. Eyeing my stockpile of Naked and Uff-da, Jake’s proprietor casually let drop a suggestion: “Have you tried Central Waters?” he asked. Why, no. I hadn’t. (As with New Glarus, you won’t find Central Waters outside of Wisconsin, hence the tagline “Microbrew for the Microfew.")
A rambling meander through the store yielded plenty of fodder for future Pint posts, but first things first: Central Waters’ Ouisconsing Red Ale, an unpasteurized amber that could use most of the other beers I’ve written about here for target practice. Maple in color, with the cloudy haze typical of an unfiltered brew, Ouisconsing’s first impression is vaguely floral, giving way to a predominant flavor of roasted malt. But the best thing about this ale? Because it’s uncarbonated, drinking it is like drinking velvet: a little earthy, plenty robust, and above all, smooth. Worth the drive, sure, but even worth two teeth-chattering days in a wind-whipped tent.
Photograph: Jennifer Wehunt
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