Friday, November 19, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXIX)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the thoughtful folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits whose still waters run deep when it comes to wine, whiskey, and beer.

Stillwater, Minnesota:

On July 29 and September 29, 1837, treaties were signed between the US government and the local Ojibwa and Dakota nations that allowed settlement in the St. Croix Valley. The town was founded by settlers drawn by the area's then-abundant lumber and river traffic, making it one of Minnesota's oldest towns, predating Minneapolis by several years. Stillwater was officially incorporated as a city March 4, 1854 (the same day as St. Paul).

Stillwater is often referred to as the birthplace of Minnesota. In 1848, a territorial convention that began the process of establishing Minnesota as a state was held in Stillwater at the corner of Myrtle and Main Streets. Minnesota officially became a territory in 1849 and became a state in 1858.

As more evidence of Stillwater's importance at the time, the convention selected three leading Minnesota cities as locations for three important public institutions: Minneapolis got the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul became the capital, and Stillwater was chosen as the site of the territory's first prison. The Minnesota Territorial Prison was opened in 1853.

Lumbering was the predominant industry in the St. Croix River Valley in the second half of the 19th century, and for many years logs were sent down the St. Croix, collected at the St. Croix Boom Site two miles upstream of Stillwater, and processed in Stillwater's many sawmills. Steamboats were used most widely from 1860–1890, and a few are still used for entertainment purposes today.

On October 18, 1921 Charles P. Strite invented the bread-toaster in Stillwater. By 1926, the Toastmaster Company began to market the first household toaster using a redesigned version of Strite's toaster.

Today, Stillwater is best known as the home of our own Brian "Saint Paul" Ward, despite the fact that he refuses to adapt his moniker to his current residency. Which actually might be for the best as a possible future move would then require a change to Brian "Arcola" Ward.

Another Stillwater institution that's following close on the heels of Brian's fame (infamy?) is the Lift Bridge Beer Company. Their Chestnut Hill seasonal selection is our beer of the week:

A wonderfully big nut brown ale crafted with roasty toasty malts balanced with Yakima hops and just enough alcohol to keep you warm on a fall afternoon.

Brown bottle. Classic design with the label featuring rich, dark shades of tan, brown, and black and a picture of a barber shop from some point in Stillwater's illustrious past.

STYLE: Nut Brown Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%

COLOR (0-2): Rich brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Caramel, nuts, and roasted malt. 2

HEAD (0-2): Light tan color, not a lot of volume, but laces nicely. 2

TASTE (0-5): Like the aroma, there are delicious flavors of caramel, nuts, and roasted malt. There's also a healthy dollop of bitter and subtle touches of spice and cocoa. Very well balanced. Medium body, creamy mouthful, and decently drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Dry finish with a rich follow through. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Chestnut Hill does the Stillwater neighborhood whose name it bears proud. It's not exactly what you would expect from a nut brown ale, but the differences are all for the best. It's a great looking beer with full flavors to match. One of my favorites so far from Lift Bridge. Although they tout its abilities to keep you warm on a fall afternoon, I believe it's got enough punch for a cold winter evening as well. Such transitional beers certainly come in handy this time of year. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16