Re-Booted Wiedemann Brand Continues to Quietly Grow

louisville beer - weidemannI remember hearing in passing sometime ago that the Wiedemann brand had been bought and that a new version of Wiedemann Special Lager was being brewed and distributed, but that information fell out of my mind. Until recently.

Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Co. now has placed its lager in more than 300 locations around Kentucky (though none in Louisville, if the company’s locator is accurate), and three additional beer styles are in the hopper: a bock, an amber lager and a Bavarian-style marzen.

This recent story even reports that owners Betsy and Jon Newberry plan to open a brewery and taproom in Newport, the city where the original Wiedemann originated, sometime in 2014.

The Newberrys have been in business for over a year now, and they say there is even plans for a bottling plant. I have to admit that since Falls City started cranking out beers again, I’m intrigued by the new old brands that have been popping up, such as Sterling and Hudepohl. I like the nostalgia, obviously, but I also have mostly liked the products.

I haven’t tried the new Wiedemann yet, but it looks like as good a reason as any to take a drive northeast soon. Anyone else out there tried it?

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Falls City Has Something New On Tap

louisville beer - falls cityFalls City Brewing has something new on tap, and you can check it out at the tasting room, located at 545 E. Barret Ave.

The brewery announced that (Scooby Doo reference alert!) Mystery Machine IPA is now available. It sounds pretty tasty, too.

Here’s the description from the Falls City newsletter: “This IPA pours a beautiful copper color with an off white head.  A citrusy hop aroma is complemented by hints of caramel and toffee.  We added a touch of chocolate rye to this beer to add a complex and unique malt backbone.  The hop bitterness adds a fruity dry bitterness, but still finishes smooth.”

That sounds like an IPA, all right. And if the other Falls City beers are an indication, it’s probably a good one.

Of course, you can also get the American Wheat, Session APA, Rye Pale Ale, Black IPA and English Pale Ale. Tap room is open 4-8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 2-8 p.m. on Saturday.

Bring your growlers, kids.

No Fanfare for Sterling?

sterling - louisville beerWhen Falls City Beer made its triumphant return three years ago, much was written in the local media, and there was some mild scuttlebutt among confused beer drinkers who expected it to taste like the vapid, watery dreck their grandfathers used to drink from cans in their kitchens.

We all know how that turned out. Louisville beer purists know a good beer when they taste one, and that English-style pale ale with which Falls City returned has now given way to four more new brews and a slick new brewery with a tasting room at 545 E. Barrett Ave.

But another local favorite from your grandfather’s days, Sterling, has made a similar return with a smooth American pilsner, and I’m kind of surprised I haven’t heard more about it. I haven’t seen it around town all that much either. Heck, at one point during the ’70s, both Sterling and Falls City were owned by G. Heileman Brewing, and both brands were cranking out very similar products, which are often called “American pilsners” (which is what most beer snobs would refer to as “American swill”). It seems Sterling would be poised – from a brand perspective, at least – to make a similar splash.

However, using the “Find Our Beer” feature on the Sterling website, I found only a dozen or so places around town that currently sell the new version. I enjoyed a pint of Sterling recently at Spring Street Bar & Grill, and it was a good experience, but it left me wondering if there might be a slight stumble here.

sterling beer can louisville

“Yo, Pappaw. Pass me another one before my buzz wears off.”

What I mean is that while the new Sterling is a pretty solid Pilsner beer – smooth and sessionable, but with a nice (if understated) bitterness at the back end of the palate – it also looks very much like the aforementioned stuff grandpa drank from cans, which is to say that it’s fizzy and yellow. Unlike Falls City’s return, which set itself apart with an amber ale with a body to it that distinguished itself from the canned stuff from the ’70s, Sterling may not have differentiated itself quite enough.

What I fear might happen to folks who aren’t in the know is that they will expect a ’70s, watered-down pilsner experience, and will get a bitterness for which they aren’t ready. Meanwhile, folks who prefer a bit more flavor and body might come to the wrong conclusion when they see the yellow brew spew out of the tap, and may make a negative assumption.

The thing is, drinking a modern Sterling beer is a pretty good experience, all in all. There’s enough going on that it won’t offend a discriminating palate, but it’s also smooth enough that your grandfather wouldn’t turn up his nose at it either. It has a nice balance.

The question is, will it ultimately be a ‘tweener? Will ’70s purists balk at paying $4.50 a pint for stuff they expect to get at a $4-per-six-pack clip? That remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether the Sterling brand will branch out and ultimately catch on the way Falls City has in its big resurgence. For my taste, I think it’s a great thing to have this brand back in our midst, and I also believe there is plenty of room for it in the beer scene. We’ll see how it shakes out.

What are your thoughts about the new Sterling? Leave your comments below.