Another customer favorite returns. Our Milk Stout is back on tap, and we are serving casks of it from our beer engine while supplies last. The question those unfamiliar with the style ask most is “Milk Stout? Does it actually have milk in it?” Well, yes and no.
During the 19th century, milder sweeter stouts were popular in England, but the sweetness would fade as these beers aged. Brewers were looking for some way around this problem. They wanted an unfermentable sugar that would remain in the beer, providing body to lower alcohol beers as well as a little sweetness. They hit on lactose, sugar derived from milk.
In the early 20th century, Mackeson introduced the first “Milk Stout.” The style grew in popularity through the 50s. In contrast to Irish or “dry” stouts, milk stouts were smoother and milder, with the bitterness of roasted malt counterbalanced by a slight sweetness and a creamy texture.
After WWII, the style grew in popularity but quickly started to fade. According to English beer expert Martyn Cornell, by the 1960s, milk stout was becoming woefully unfashionable and was associated almost entirely “with elderly working class women.” Leave it to the less-class-conscious Yanks behind the American craft beer movement to resurrect this neglected style.
Our version is just 4.4% alcohol but packed with flavor. This stout has a deep, earthy, slightly smoky roast character and a lush silky mouth feel. There’s a hint of sweetness but it’s not cloying. Lactose accounts for about five percent of the total mash, which is on the low side for this style.
Like all Civil Life beers, it’s balanced and delicious. Head down to your local for a pint tonight. Be sure to try it on cask while we have it.
Perhaps you want to read a bit more about our Milk Stout. Click me!
Yes We Can!
We had been promising Civil Life beer in cans for a while, and you kept asking, “When?” Well, we finally released our beloved American Brown Ale in cans (Aug. 16th), followed by our “Craft Beer” (British Bitter) (Oct. 2). Many of you have asked why we chose cans and what the future holds. We’d like to fill you in on some of these details, but first a little background on canned beer—perhaps the greatest invention since sliced bread.
Big breweries had been experimenting with cans for decades in the early twentieth century, but the higher pressure of pasteurized beer was too great. (Please note, Civil Life beer is unpasteurized, so keep it cold!) The bottle makers were none too pleased about the competition, either. But in 1935, Krueger Brewing packed its cream ale in steel (“keg-lined”) flat-top cans and released them in Richmond, Virginia. The beer-drinking public loved it.
By the end of 1935, almost twenty breweries were canning, including Pabst (look on our back bar to see a silver 1939 Pabst Export Beer can in our collection). Budweiser didn’t come in cans until 1950. Mid-Coast Brewing of Oshkosh, Wisconsin was probably the first craft brewery to can, but they did so very briefly (1991–1992) before switching to bottles. It was Oskar Blues and their Dale’s Pale Ale that really started the craft can revolution in 2002.
For years canned beer was stigmatized as cheap or inferior beer, so even those who wanted to get into canning were reluctant to do so. That stigma has all but disappeared. According to craftcans.com, there are currently 550 craft breweries putting over 2,000 different beers in cans. The Civil Life Brewing Company is proud to be numbered among them. But why cans?
The can is arguably a superior closure for many reasons. Cans eliminate both light and air, beer’s two greatest enemies, so the beer stays fresher and tastes better longer. They are lighter, cheaper to ship, and more recyclable, making them the more environmentally friendly choice. Here at Civil Life, we’ve been partially solar powered since the day we opened and are committed to sustainable practices, even in the pub, where there are no paper menus and wasteful paper dollars are replaced by durable gold coins whenever possible.
Right now we have our American Brown Ale and Craft Beer available in six-packs to go. We are gearing up for two new canned beers that will be released Thursday, 17 November: ESB and Porter. The goal is to have three or four different beers available in cans at all times.
For now, the cans are only available at the pub. We have been using a mobile canning unit, which has worked out great for us, but the cost is high enough that our beers would be too expensive out in the market. Ten dollars (tax included) a six-pack for a modest A.B.V. beer is reasonable. Thirteen dollars (tax included) would not be. As always, the Civil Life is always looking for ways to save our drinkers their hard-earned dollars—that’s why five years on, we remain cash only ($5 imperial pints … you’re welcome). When we complete our building expansion and have our own canning line, our cans should finally be hitting your favorite purveyors of package beer.
In the meantime, stop by whenever you need delicious craft beer in cans. Help us clear out the cold room in time for our newest cans! Do yourselves and us a big favor and swing by for a six-pack ($10.00 includes tax) each of American Brown and Craft Beer. Better yet, mix and match and grab a case for just $38.00 each (included tax).
Every can purchased adds to our expansion fund that will allow us to make cans for everyone, everywhere in a new building.
As summer ends and autumn returns to Saint Louis, we continue our program of authentic recreations of German-style beers. Like Altbier, Kölsch is one of the relatively few German beers made with a top-fermenting yeast strain.
The style is named for its city of origin, Köln (Cologne) Germany. According to the Oxford Companion to Beer, the style dates back to 874 AD. Of course it has evolved considerably during its tasty progression through history. Like many lighter beers, its current incarnation dates to the 1800s. Pilsners were staging a takeover throughout Germany. But in Köln, natives said, “not on our watch, delicious hoppy golden beer. We’ll make our own.” And so they did. They created a refreshing golden beer but used the old top-fermenting yeast, rather than the bottom-fermenting strain used to brew pilsner.
Kölsch is fermented at cooler temperatures than most (top-fermenting) ales (ours is fermented at 60 degrees). It also undergoes some cold conditioning, making it somewhat of a hybrid. Those colder temperatures tone down the esters that are often produced during top fermentation, but they are still there, though they are subtle. Often in Kölsch these notes are reminiscent of pear.
We use the same authentic German top-fermenting yeast used by Cölner Hofbräu Peter Josef Früh. It produces a tangy, bright fruit note. Our Kölsch-Style Ale is as good as anything you’ll find in Köln. It’s deliciously crisp with nice clean bitterness and a hint of tart lemon.
This time of year we feature several excellent German styles, including wheat, black lager, #Carlbock, dunkel, alt, and Oktoberfest, in addition to our Kölsch. With half pints, you can try them all. What are you waiting for?
-Dr. Patrick Hurley, barman and civil man about town
We’ve been talking a lot over the past few months about the exciting beers we brew when we have our lager yeast strain in house. If you’re not familiar with the style, you might think Altbier is another of our German-style lagers, but it’s actually brewed with an ale yeast.
By the mid to late nineteenth century, lighter colored lager beers had become the norm throughout Germany. But along the Rhine River in Düsseldorf, brewers were still using top-fermenting yeast strains. They made a beautiful copper to mahogany colored beer that came to be called Alt, meaning “old,” as in the old way of making beer.
The style evolved, though, and these brews bore little resemblance to the muddy and sometimes cloying ales of the past; these dark beers were actually crisp and clear, due in part to the fact that they were being fermented more slowly at colder temperatures, and then cold-conditioned.
We base our recipe on perhaps the two greatest examples of Altbier--Zum Uerige and Im Füchschen. German pilsner, caramelized, and chocolate wheat malts are balanced by authentic noble hops. The resulting beer is a beautiful deep copper color, bittersweet with nutty roast malt and notes of fruit and woodsy spice.
Don’t miss this special beer. Come down for a dimpled mug of this tasty, traditional style. Put some money in the jukebox and play a song by Kraftwerk (Düsseldorf’s other great contribution to global culture). You’ll feel like you’re in the Rhineland. And you’ll be thankful German beer is not limited to lager.
-Dr. Patrick Hurley, barman and resident beer historian
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.