Editor’s note: As anyone walking their dog could tell you this morning (or at least those of us dogsitting), the temperatures are dropping and the weather is becoming perfect for many variations of darker beers. Timing it just right, Franz Solo has a review of a locally-made, perfectly seasonal beer that is still for sale in bombers. — Stoutmeister
Turtle Mountain Brewing Company: Wilde Jagd
As the seasons turn from the dog days of summer to autumn with a kiss of winter, we come to that greatest of seasons for beer for those of us who love bold malty offerings and eclectic varietals. Wilde Jagd (Wild Hunt for those whose German may not be so good) hearkens to the tradition of the huntsman in the forest with hints of Odin and glory.
The beer is a winter warmer, which has a melange of spices including orange peel, clove, fresh ginger root, nutmeg, and molasses. Wilde Jagd was then lagered in the traditional German style before entering French oak pinot noir barrels for aging. The labels were designed in house at Turtle, and applied to all of the bottles by hand in the cold room, quite apropos to my mind. The bottles were then hand dipped in gold wax, creating a bottle as striking to the eye as to the palate.
The beer itself has a deep, brown amber color, much like the skins a hunter might wear. Initial aroma has a slightly sour grape tone with notes of nutmeg and wonderful dark molasses. As with most well-crafted ales, the profile changes typically for the better as the beer is allowed to warm. Initial flavor is a smooth, malty start like my grandmother’s pumpkin pie. Mid-palate the spice and ginger bite hit well and the finish is of crisp oak and red wine. A multi-layered profile, to be sure, derived from the lagering, the added spices and molasses, and certainly the oak barrels.
This is quite smooth and complex and as the beer warms, an increase of the spice and a delightful burn with a hint of sour grape enter the fray, which is a lovely counterpoint to the sweet malts and molasses. It drinks like a wine or a doppelbock, and is sure to warm cold toes in winter. I am struck by the thought of snow-tipped groves of spruce and tales of the Norse gods from the Edda as my horn is emptied. This is a beer that hearkens both to the sweet kiss of spring in the mountains, as well as the clutch of winter’s darkest days. It is suited to any time of year when one’s heart hears the call of the wild places of the world, and I heartily suggest consumption in glades of pine next to a roaring fire from a proper drinking horn.
So if you, too, hear the call of autumn and demand a taste of the wilderness, the call of the mountains, then head up the hill to Turtle Mountain and procure this magical elixir for a truly unique beer you will not soon forget. By Odin’s grey beard!
— Franz Solo