I don’t care that the planters are still stuffed with the gray and brown boughs leftover from Christmas. I don’t mind that the crispy leaves are still hiding in the corners. I don’t even mind that the cushions haven’t been put outside. I am ready for a patio and a frosty beverage. I know it’s foolish to believe warm temperatures will last—Minnesota weather has a way of being a jerk about snow and such. However, there’s got to be a way to find the balance. That’s why this afternoon, I’m taking my pasty skin outside for a pint of dark beer and, with any luck, a little sunburn.
Schell’s newest brew in their Stag Series, #9, fits this in-between weather window perfectly. Plus, there are whiskey barrels involved. The cave-aged, barrel aged lager is all kinds of aged in the best kind of way. The mahogany-colored ale has a toasty, rich nose and the flavors are decadent: bitter chocolate, smooth oak and hint of charred caramel. It’s a creamy rich balance of smooth bitterness with just a thread of sweetness.
The beer is made by being stored in whiskey barrels underneath the historic brewery, and just enough of that flavor seeps into each sip. It’s the perfect patio companion for these early, warm afternoons.