By: Thomas Muhs
One of the things I’ve struggled to find since I moved to Madison was an establishment that had a great selection for you to build your own six-pack; I was lucky to find a place that had maybe 15 beers I could choose from which is criminal. And then a coworker of mine asked me the other night if I was in the market for some beer and took me to what at this point is the Shangri-la of build your own six-pack. There were varieties of beer from all over the country with some of the heavy hitters well represented; Colorado, Washington, California and even Wyoming which is cool. So I got right to business and chose three different beers to sample and report on. John’s White Ale from Millstream Brewing Company is the first of these.
The Millstream Brewing Company is based out of Amana, Iowa and has been brewing beer since 1985. It is the oldest microbrewery in the state of Iowa and also one of its most decorated. With 18 national beer awards and one international award, the folks here know how to make a tasty brew it seems. John’s White Ale is a Belgian style “Wit” beer and according to the description on the website is a “wonderful, spicy brew, infused with orange peel and coriander spice.” The beer’s name comes from a local grocery store which had celebrated its 50th anniversary when it first came out and became so popular that they just kept making it.
First Impression: The label of the beer is fairly minimalist in both color and design which makes it stand out while not explicitly trying to. The art on the front is a brick grocery store and has a watercolor realism sort of feel to it.
Pour: It has a bright translucent straw color with a thin white head that sits on top, but it’s also very bubbly when just sitting in the glass. Put your nose up to the glass and you get a very distinct wheat smell and then a very piercing smell of orange peel right after that. If you keep exploring for more olfactory notes you also get a pretty distinct hint of the spice which probably comes from the coriander. If I had to compare it to another beer, it smells like a less fruity version of Hacker Pschorr.
Taste: The first thing I noticed was that this beer as a whole is lighter in feel and in flavor than I was expecting. When you have a beer that’s brewed in the Belgian style, you expect something a bit heavier, more robust in flavor and this beer really doesn’t accomplish that. It’s slightly watery and it’s hard to detect a whole lot of different flavors besides wheat and just the faintest hint of orange. It’s easy drinking and the flavors that are present aren’t bad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this beer again.