On Friday, June 6, my sister and I travelled to New Ulm, MN to tour The August Schell Brewing Company. That is correct, I drove over 500 miles to taste beer. What can I say? August Schell Brewing Company is located at 1860 Schell Road in New Ulm, MN. For those coming out of town, there is a sign to turn but realize you have to keep going past the Target parking lot. We got slightly lost in the parking lot. Whoops. Schell’s is the second oldest, family owned and operated brewery in the U.S., focusing on German beer. They are a strong regional brewery and offer a variety of beers. The current President is a 5th generation descendant named Ted Marti with several other Marti family members preceding him. We basically just Googled nearby breweries and this was the largest one in our vicinity. Most in the Midwest are probably familiar with their Deer brand deer or Grain Belt products. Let’s go!
Tours are offered at various times, depending on the season. The website is excellent in explaining the history, tour times and more. For only $3 you are taken on a fairly brief tour of the grounds, given history of the company and then taken in the basement for a tasting. Our tour guide was wonderful and we were there on a most excellent day weather-wise. The grounds of the brewery is beautiful and is located next to the Cottonwood River which was of course, utilized in early years as a water source and refrigeration from ice harvested in winter. They now use New Ulm city water as we learned in our tour. On the grounds, besides the tasting room, is a museum (photo above and below), gift shops, mansion, company offices and packaging rooms. We were unable to see the beer being packaged as that portion was under construction. The mansion is where previous company heads have lived. Our tour guide encouraged us to walk around and visit the grounds, see the peacocks and possibly see some deer behind the mansion by the river. I felt the tour was excellently done. I knew a bit about Schell’s, but learned quite a bit more. Don’t fear, if you are not of age, or don’t want to drink beer, 1919 Root Beer is on tap. The tour is welcome to all ages, but of course, you must be 21+ to taste.
The male peacock made and appearance on our tour!
A few tid bits I found interesting:
- Schell’s was built in 1860!!
- Schell’s had a good relationship with Native Americans and as the Dakota War took place and many places burned, Schell’s was kept safe thanks to the relationship between the brewery and the tribe.
- Schell’s started out as a partnership between August Schell and Jacob Bernhardt, but Schell bought Bernhardt out early on in the business.
- When August passed away, leadership of the brewery was given to his wife, Theresa. Yeah for women!
- In 1911, the Marti names takes over the brewery after a surprise Schell death and Theresa passing. He is the husband of August’s daughter. I believe.
- Besides soda, the brewery also made candy and near beer during Prohibition.
- In fact, many doctors prescribed near beer to pregnant woman for nutrients it delivered.
- In 2002, Schell’s acquired Grain Belt, a very well-known MN beer.
- Schell’s is active in the community including popular events like Bock Fest, Bavarian Blast and Oktoberfest. I can’t imagine how crazy New Ulm is during these events. For fun!
- To this day, Ted Marti’s own 3 sons are heavily involved in the company. I don’t think Schell’s is going anywhere anytime soon!
Now, onto the beer tasting! We were able to taste 6 beers in 2 ounce pours and enjoy one tap beer after the tour officially ended. We were given an excellent guide showing the beers, the style, availability, calories, ABV/ABW, Character and Ingredients of each beer which is where I get my info below. I thoroughly enjoyed each beer. These beers are very drinkable and would be excellent for someone new to beer tasting.
Here are the 7 in my rotation:
- Original Light: BEER STYLE: Low calorie, available year-round, ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 4%, CALORIES: 100 calories, CHARACTERISTICS: Light straw color, mild maltiness complimented by mild hop bitterness and slight hop aroma. Light body with a crisp dry finish. A must fuller flavor than other light beers.
- Firebrick: BEER STYLE: Vienna-style amber lager, available year-round, ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 5%, CHARACTERISTICS: Reddish-Amber hue. Carries a mild, pleasant maltiness with subtle sweetness and a light hoppy finish.
- Goosetown: BEER STYLE: Gose, available April-Sept., ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 4.7%, CHARACTERISTICS: Golden orange with thick white foam head. Light and citrusy tartness, backed by a bready, wheat malt character. Touch of coriander spice.
- Zommerfest: BEER STYLE: KölschStyle Ale, available May-June, ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 4.9%, CHARACTERISTICS: Light golden color with a frothy white head. Slight malt flavor and sweet hop aroma.
- Schell Shocked Radler: BEER STYLE: German Radler, available April-Oct., ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 4.6%, CHARACTERISTICS: Clear, golden radler style lager is light and crisp, with mild malt flavor, slight hop bitterness and a sensational grapefruit aroma and citrus flavor.
- Pilsner: BEER STYLE: Pilsner, available year-round, ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 5%, CHARACTERISTICS: A shining example of a true European style Pilsner. Light crisp malt body balanced by clean moderate hop bitterness. Delicate flowery hop aroma.
- Nordeast (my tap choice): BEER STYLE: American Amber Lager, available year-round, ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 4.7%, CHARACTERISTICS: Light amber in color. Light maltiness and hop aroma with a mild bitterness. Smooth taste with an excellent drinkability.
My favorite? Probably the Radler. I liked the citrus flavor and I had never had it so it was new to me. I thought I’d like Zommerfest more, but I really loved them all. I enjoyed my last beer out on their patio which overlooks a treed area. The weather was excellent for this!
From there, we headed about 25 miles east to Mankato to try out Mankato Brewing. I’ll reserve that for another post.