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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kaplan. Rustic Ales, Chelsea Michigan

The second offering from Rustic Ales has finally hit the stores near Chelsea Michigan.  This batch is called Kaplan and, according to the story on the label, is named after the Belgian Draft Horse that worked on Cecil K. Fecker’s farm.  (By the way, anything Belgian on draft is usually a great choice…).  The beer is described as an “Imperial Bronze Ale brewed with Morel Mushrooms and aged in Bourbon Barrels.”  I believe this is the first beer I have seen that had mushrooms as an ingredient and morels no less.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the elusive and coveted shroom, morels are highly sought after in the Great Lakes Region of the United States.  When they are in season, people spend days wandering the forests looking for this fungi and are very secretive about where they can be found.  There is even a morel festival in Northern Michigan each year to celebrate everything morel.  I hope Rustic Ales saved a few bottles for the festival.

The beer poured a nice bronze color as advertised and had a distinct bourbon barrel, alcoholic flavor.  I thought I could taste a hint of the morel in the aftertaste but this may have just been wishful thinking on my part. The others sharing the bottle with me, all thought they could taste some morel too. Nevertheless, Kaplan was a very nice beer.

I really like the labeling scheme used by Rustic Ales.  The labels wrap the entire bottle and are a great combination of artwork, information, and storytelling.  The story of the farm and farm creatures is entertaining and with this second beer from Rustic Ales, we are getting the next chapter in the story.  One nice touch is the hand-written bottling number on each bottle, including the inevitable typographic errors that occur when humans communicate in written form.  I bought two bottles of Kaplan, one is bottle number 1121 of 1151 and the other is bottle 1112 of 1150.  How many bottles were made?  
Clearly, Kaplan is being distributed in very limited quantities, so if you like trying new beer you better start searching for this beer right away.  Kinda like the search for morels which will be starting in the next few months here around the Great Lakes (and no I won't tell you where I found mine!).