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BEST OF | 2012 >>
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company | Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
By Adam Bissen
It’s after Memorial Day, and in some parts of the country that may mean it’s gin and tonic season, yachting season or OK-to-wear-white season, but here in western Wisconsin, it’s camping season. Thus I found myself last weekend in the lush Kickapoo Valley Reserve, searing trout, hunting morels and sampling the hottest canned beers of the season.
A good camping beer requires that special
je ne sais quoi
, a combination of quaff-ability and refreshment that must be as appropriate in the afternoon sunshine as around a campfire accompanying charred meats. Luckily, I found just such a beer at Kwik Trip on my way out of town, brand new, canned and reasonably priced: Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler.
According to the can, this is a “Kolsch-style with Rye,” which led me to approach the beer with trepid optimism. Kolsch ales are some of my favorite summer beers, and I’ve always been a big supporter of rye. I was cautious, though, because both Kolsch and rye styles are especially trendy in the craft beer world, and Leinie’s is somewhat notorious for jumping on hot styles with an inferior product. Plus, Kolsch beers and ryes are rarely combined, and it seemed unlikely that this Miller-owned macrobrewery would push the limits of innovation. When I returned to the land of electricity and ceilings, I concluded Leine’s didn’t nail the Kolsch-meet-rye style (if that were even possible), but they did make a damn fine camping beer.
12-pack of Canoe Paddler from Kwik Trip, $12.19
5 percent ABV
The gold can is painted with a charming scene of canoeists on a blue-green river beneath a blue-grey sky flanked by tall grass, willows, and one soaring sea bird.
I haven’t looked at this beer, as it seems sacrilegious to pour a canoeing beer into a glass, but I would be shocked if this were not an extremely pale yellow.
Beyond the light foundation of aluminum, I smell a full malt body of toasted biscuits topped by some faintly grassy hops.
The Canoe Paddler first hits with a flush of sweet cereal — a hallmark of macrolager — but that sweetness fades quickly and the quirks of the style rise on the palette. There are notes of pepper and lemon and a surprising kick of rye near the finish. The hops are minimal, but it’s pretty true to the Kolsch style.
This is slightly over carbonated, but I’m willing to give this canned beer a pass. Otherwise it’s very light and refreshing and in line with other bottled Kolsches.
This is extremely drinkable, which is what you look for in a Kolsch, and certainly in a canoeing beer.
BeerAdvocate gives this a 73 while RateBeer scores it a 15 overall and a 5 for the style, but that’s probably due to a small sample size. I certainly wouldn’t mind drinking more of this, as that would be a sign of a summer done right.
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THE TOP 7 >>
Rejected Best of La Crosse Categories
1. Electronic billboard
2. Middle school football team
3. Rail liquor selection
4. Parking ramp
5. Internet troll
6. Graffiti artist
7. Kwik Trip
1. Pete Best
2. Milwaukee's Best
3. "Best in Show"
4. Best Western
5. Best Coast
6. Best Buy
7. 'My Best Friend's Girl"
LUNCH SPECIALS >>
Friday: That Salad Place
SOCIAL NETWORKING >>
What is your beverage of choice: I just love an ice cold water, or a chocolate malt. NOT A SHAKE.
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Second Supper (The Free Press)
PO Box 427 La Crosse Wisconsin 54601
Call: 608.782.7001 or email: