Port Huron Brewing open for business in Wisconsin Dells

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

I discovered Robin Shepard’s recent Isthmus piece about Port Huron Brewing Company over the weekend, which was just in a nick of time. J and I headed up to Wisconsin Dells Tuesday night to visit with family who were vacationing there, and the Dells-based brewery just got their bottler up and running a few weeks ago. So, we were happy for the chance to stop by Zinke’s and pick up some beer to sample. As Shepard describes,

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

At the heart of the brewery is a steam-fired 17-barrel brewing system. [Brewmaster Tanner] Brethorst has breathed new life into a previously used brewkettle from Two Brothers Brewing of Illinois and secondhand fermenters from West Virginia and Colorado.

Port Huron has four standard brews so far:

  • Honey Blonde is a pale golden ale made with Wisconsin honey from Mount Horeb. It’s bubbly, easy-drinking and an ideal beer for summer; it’s been an early big seller for the brewery.
  • Hefeweizen, a traditional German wheat, is unfiltered, with a bright yellow-golden color, banana and clove tones from the yeast, and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops to add crispness.
  • Alt is made in the Dusseldorf style, and has a solid amber color and a smooth, clean, malty flavor.
  • Porter is the darkest of Brethorst’s beers, almost coal-black. Despite the heavy look, it’s light-bodied, with firm chocolate maltiness and a clean finish.

Neither J nor I are big porter fans, so we picked up a 6-pack of each of the others, and they are all really great. (Shepard’s descriptions are spot-on.) The Hef and Honey Blonde are my favorites. The former is a really solid execution of the style—in my only-semi-educated opinion—and the latter was a surprising delight: unlike some bigger breweries’ beers with honey in the name, you can actually taste the golden elixir in this one.

First bottling run = sweet! Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

At Zinke’s, we didn’t need to head into the walk-in cooler, since the hometown brew had its own dedicated fridge. I’ve included a few pics of the signage (above and below). I also snapped a few glamour shots of the bottles at home; if you click on the close-up of the labels, you’ll see that our Honey Blonde and Alt Bier both came from the brewery’s initial run on July 9 — pretty cool! If I were a hardcore beer geek, I might have to save the bottles; instead, I think I’ll recycle them, thereby making the supply a bit more scarce so that diehard collectors have something even more rare.

For more details on Port Huron Brewing, including the hours of their taproom in the Dells and the answer to why a Wisconsin brewery is named for a Michigan town, head to Shepard’s full article. Also, check out this recent article from the AP, and for occasional updates from the brewery, like their Facebook page.

Updated December 28, 2012: Port Huron’s distribution reached Madison recently, so the local press have given their beers some attention. Robin Shepard takes a closer look at the Alt Bier, while Chris Drosner offers his review of the Honey Blonde. Check out both pieces to learn why this brewery is a welcome new addition to the Wisconsin craft beer scene.

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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