27 October 2011

Cheap Beer - Two from Rhinelander

I recently stopped in at a downtown liquor store to put together a collection of beer for sampling with the fine folks from H2O Sushi for a beer dinner* we're putting together in November. While looking for a group of high quality beers that work well with bo ssäm, I stumbled across beer of a different type - discount craft beer.

I couldn't resist the temptation of the sub-five dollar bomber, and I walked out with two beers - a chocolate stout and a double IPA from Rhinelander Brewing Company.

Thanks, Wikipedia

The story of Rhinelander Brewing begins in 1882, when the brewery was opened by Otto Hilgermann and Henry Danner. As it goes with many of the old American breweries, there was a fire, prohibition, multiple changes of ownership, a buyout by a larger brewery, and finally the acquisition of the brand and equipment by a private investor looking to use the historic name as a launching pad for a brand resurgence.

As we've seen with Berghoff, this isn't always a promising proposition.

Another curious thing about these two beers is that you've almost got to get out a magnifying glass to figure out who brewed it. But there, under everything else, was the word "Wisconsin" - an insurance policy that told me that this cheap stuff was worth a shot.

First up - Flavored Beer Chocolate Bunny Stout Brewed with Cocoa Powder (or just Chocolate Bunny). It was immediately evident that the nose on this one lived up to the label - chocolatey is really the only word I'd use to describe it. The mouthfeel is creamy, with more of that cocoa powder coming through in the flavor, and finishing with a coppery penny sort of sharp bitterness. The beer weighs in at 5.5% ABV.

We liked the beer well enough - it's at least as good as the pricetag. It's definitely worth giving a shot, or at least serving to guests that you don't want to waste expensive beer on.

Next up was the Imperial Jack DIPA. This was a pretty odd beer, with nothing up front (which seemed awfully odd for a DIPA), then a hit of soapy water, followed up by a saccharine/Diet Coke-like sweetness that lingers. The mouthfeel was thin, and almost slippery.

If I were you, I'd pass on the DIPA. Or try it. It's cheap as fuck. And tastes like it.

*More on this dinner shortly.


  1. I can't remember exactly, but I'm thinking like $3.95 or $4.95.

  2. Ahhh, but this is the ILLUSION of cheap beer. Even a $3.95 bomber is the equivalent of a $13 six pack. A $4.95 bomber is the equivalent of a $16 six pack.

    Bombers suck.

  3. Let's say I'm a bum, and I've got $5 to my name. That six pack is getting me nowhere, because I can't afford it.

    Now let's say I've had a good day, and I've got just $10 - I can get TWO varieties of horrible beer!

    Two is better than none.



  4. I think we need a six pack interview with this craft-beer-loving bum. He sounds like a fascinating fellow.

  5. slightly off topic, but speaking of value... last week Kroger had 12-packs of New Belgium products for $13.99. IMO hard to beat Ranger at that price. For all I know that price is still valid, but their sales usually run Thurs-Weds