Tag Archives: O’so

New Brew: O’so Picnic Ants Farmhouse Ale

15 Jun

I’ve made no secret of my affinity for O’so Brewing and their willingness to experiment despite their recent entry into Wisconsin’s competitive craft beer market.  Their Jack’s Lantern (a pumpkin ale brewed with rye and smoked malt) wowed me this past fall and their silky smooth Dank (imperial red ale) wooed me this past winter.  Their summer seasonal, Picnic Ants  Farmhouse Ale, made its debut last year in bomber and draft, but I don’t think I ever had a chance to try it.  Luckily for me, they’ve chosen to release this year’s iteration in six-packs, one of which I quickly snatched up across the street at Barriques Fitchburg. I even found it on-draft at the Echo Tap of all places.  O’so is quickly becoming a ubiquitous presence in the Madison beer scene.

Belgian farmhouse ales, or saisons, are made for summertime – crisp, tangy, dry, spicy – perfect thirst-quenchers for those with a fondness for the funky.

O’so Picnic Ants Farmhouse Ale

Style: Imperial Saison/Farmhouse ale

Vitals: 7.2% abv; Styrian Goldings hops; yeast strain also used by the makers of Saison Dupont; ~$9.50/6-pack at Barriques Fitchburg

Company Line: “A deliciously fruity, spicy Belgian-style farmhouse saison.  What’s a picnic without ants!”

My take: pours a vibrant tangerine orange in the glass with a finger of creamy foam that hangs around ’til the end.  Bouquet is bright and peppered with citrus peel and spice and a faint hint of barnyard funk.  Black pepper, citrus peel, and tart, underripe fruit flood the palate, which strikes a balance between spicy and soured.  A lingering dry, slightly puckering  finish makes for a wonderfully refreshing warm-weather quaffer, despite its considerable strength.  The extremely high fermentation has led to plenty of funk and fruit and the yeast strain’s thoroughbred pedigree rounds out the drinkability quite well.  I’ll take Picnic Ants over picnic mosquitoes any day.


New(ish) Brew: O’so Dank

9 Apr

A bit late to the party with this one as it was released early this winter, but I had a bottle of it left in the beer fridge and an imperial “West Coast”-style red ale sounded just about right.  My palate more or less made the changeover from rich stouts and bockbiers to lighter and hoppier fare with the mercury hitting 82 degrees just 1 week ago.  In typical April in Wisconsin fashion, however, it snowed last night and sits a balmy 31 degrees as I type this.  Luckily, O’so Brewing’s Dank manages to meld robust malts and crisp hops much like April melds the warm optimism of brighter days to come with the cold, bitter reality of a six-month-long winter.

O’so Dank

Style: Imperial Red (West Coast-style)

Vitals: 9% abv, aged in oak

Company Line: “Anniversary offering, Imperial Red. Heavily hopped and oak aged, very balanced. – osobrewing.com”

My take: pours a deep tangerine-ruby with ample khaki suds.  Aroma hits with smooth oak, caramel and vanilla up front with hops adding but a faint whisper in the finish.  Conversely, resinous hops and alcoholic heat hit the palate first with toast and caramel malts following.  A dry toast and resin finish leaves the mouth wanting more.  The hops seemed to have calmed considerably in the 3-plus months since its debut, but the drinker is left with a smooth, sexy beer that has gained in structured balance and class what it lost in West Coast bravado.  Northern Wisconsin has a gem in O’So Brewing.  Keep your eyes out for them.

New B(r)oo(ew): O’so Jack’s Lantern

5 Nov


O'so Jack's Lantern

Not your daddy's punkin' ale

A quick jaunt across the street to Barriques to pick up a six pack of Ale Asylum Madtown Nutbrown for my roommate netted me an additional sixer of Plover, Wisconsin’s own O’so Brewing Jack’s Lantern, their take on a pumpkin ale with more than one twist.  For such a small upstart brewery, O’so has quite a diverse catalog and consistently puts together some interesting iterations of familiar and not-so-familiar styles.  Smoked beers always pique my interest so the second word of the big description on the bottle hooked me immediately.  I’m such a pushover.


Beer: O’so Jack’s Lantern

Style: Pumpkin Ale/Smoked Ale

Description: Cherry smoke, rye, pumpkin and exotic yeast conjure up the autumn experience in an obscure marriage of flavors.  Enjoy this truly unique offering!!” (from the bottle label)

Vitals: none to be found

My take: I was informed by the woman who checked me out that this beer was a smoke-forward pumpkin beer.  That is most certainly the case.  Jack’s pours a dark, slightly hazy amber color with ample creamy foam.  Smoked malt and faint pumpkin spice dominate the nose with a slight rye twinge.  Smoke coats the tongue while the pumpkin pie spices and tangy rye malt battle with estery Belgian-style yeast characters.  The pumpkin is quite subtle here, though it does round out the body with some needed sweetness.  There’s a lot going on here, and frankly, this beer is smokier than some beers with “smoked” in their title (*cough* New Glarus Smoke on the Porter *cough*).  The smoke and quirky yeast are the stars here with any pumpkin ale character relegated to supporting status.  I love this as a smoked beer and appreciate the creativity on the part of O’so.  Try it while you can still find it.

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