A two for one deal today.

I’d never heard about Central Waters Brewing out of Amherst, Wisconsin until my good friend and fellow homebrewer Dariush brought me a couple bottles from a recent trip across the border, their Glacial Trail IPA and Satin Solstice Imperial Stout.

Like a growing number of brewers, both large and small, Central Waters is on the path to environmental sustainability. And from the sounds of it, they recently entered what they call in the energy services business a performance contract. Essentially, all conservation measures associated with improving the brewery facilities such as new fluorescent lighting, upgrades to high-efficiency motors, and heating and cooling improvements are financed by the long-term energy savings the upgrades are guaranteed to bring about. In the case of Central Waters, that’s about $1.5 million in reduced utility costs over the course of the contract (probably 10-15 years).

It’s a great deal for them, since there’s no upfront capital lay out, allowing the brewery to get the work done without cutting into their operating budget, an important consideration for any small business, but especially for a capital-intensive manufacturing company. And the best part…if the brewery doesn’t realize the guaranteed energy savings, their energy services company picks up the shortfall.

This year, they also installed roughly 1,000 square feet of solar collectors, 24 panels in all, allowing them to reduce their natural gas consumption by about 2500 therms a year. In real terms, that’s the equivalent of taking about three cars off the road each year or planting three acres of trees.

But enough about their green practices. How’s the beer?

DSC02193Glacial Trail IPA
Very impressed with the aroma up front. Huge fluffy head full of hop resins, capping what is a very nice looking orange ale. Citrus, pine, floral, in some ways very reminiscent of Oskar Blues Gordon. Lots of hop sediment floating around after the pour from what I’m sure was a healthy dry hop.

Taste is on the sweeter, maltier side balanced by some of the hop bitterness. A little bready, but probably more of the herbal qualities. Finishes strong, with lots of biting hops in the end. Medium body and mouthfeel. A solid IPA, impressed with my first ever beer from these guys.

Rating: B+

Satin Solstice Imperial Stout 
Here’s where the review takes a turn. Satin Solstice poured into a snifter like greased lightning…not the characteristic oozing “glug glug” kind of a pour I’m accustomed to in thick, viscous imperial stouts. For a moment, I really thought I was looking at a brown ale when I saw the relatively light colored beer shooting out of the bottle. That aside, the aroma was pleasing. Molasses, caramel and some vanilla.   

The taste was OK, but a little simplistic. Mainly an overabundance of bitter, roasted malt, and not enough of the Crystal malt sweetness or chocolate notes I’d look for. The booze pushed through at the end, which didn’t come off as well as it might in some other imperial stouts given the one-dimensional nature of the flavor. Mouthfeel was also a little watery and thin, as evidenced by the pour. Overall, not a disaster, but not the kind of complexity and bold richness I look for in an imperial stout.  

Rating: C+

And as is the case with all my bottled beers, Central Waters would be glad to know I plan to reuse the empties for my homebrew. Little guys can be sustainable too.