Schell’s has released their first in a series of special brews in their Noble Star Collections. It’s a Berlin style wheat beer called “Star of the North”. This beer is brewed as a small batch and aged in one of Schell’s reconditioned cypress wood lagering tanks from 1936. Each bottle is hand filled and the beer continues to ferment in the bottle. On the Schell’s web site they say to “Enjoy it straight in a pokal glass or mix in a shot of sweet raspberry or woodruff syrup, as is traditionally done in Berlin.”
I was able to find this in New Ulm, Minnesota after a tour of the Schell’s brewery. They didn’t offer it there and I hadn’t had a chance to try it until this past week.
When you pop the cork (and it’s a real cork), you get a yeasty, sourdough bread like scent. I smelled a hint of sweetness, slight banana, and more of a floral than fruit on the hops. When I tasted it, I was surprised at the tartness of this brew. It was unexpected and quite different than the aroma.
It pours with a bright white foam head, but it dissipates quite rapidly. There is a slight lacing, but not too much. The beer is a little cloudy, as would be expected with a beer that continues to age in the bottle.
This is a very tart beer, almost like biting into raw rhubarb (yes, I’ve done that). Again, the taste is quite different than the scent, not what you’d expect after smelling the aroma. It looks heavier than it is, and is quite light on the tongue; almost champagne like. It’s a beer more enjoyed by drinking, not sipping.
As suggested on their web site and the hang-tag that comes on the bottle, adding sweet raspberry syrup cuts some of the tartness. I didn’t have real raspberry syrup, but I did find an old bottle of Chambord raspberry liquor. I added a cap full to about half a glass of Star of the North and it really changed the dynamic of the beer. It was quite pleasant.
I like this beer for its uniqueness and coming from more of a mainstream beer company, this craft brings a welcome limited edition. I bought 2 bottles because of its rarity. One to review and one to savor later with friends. I’m glad I did and I might even buy another if I see it locally.
Is it a favorite? I can drink this better by adding the syrup and I really like the uniqueness of this beer. It’s a great effort from Schell’s. I will give this beer 3 steins nudging 3.5. It’s not quite a 4 but easily a 3.
Location: New Ulm, MN
Beer: Star of the North
BGTV Rating: 3 Steins
Reviewer: Shane Zeppelin