It’s not Aaron Rodgers on the label.
You may do a double take when you look at a bottle of Dubbel Czech, though. At the center of the craft beer’s label is a football player in a green and gold jersey, “leaping” into a crowd of fans, making a familiar gesture across his waistline. There’s a dark visor on the player’s helmet, which may or may not have been added at the last minute to mask facial features and quell legal concerns.
“Under the screen, there may or may not be a striking resemblance” to Rodgers, said Henry Schwartz, CEO of MobCraft Beer in Madison and one of the guys behind the blond dubbel ale.
Dubbel Czech, a collaborative brew between MobCraft and Green Bay’s Badger State Brewing Company, was released on December 28. The dubbel is a unique brew, combining Czech hops, Belgian ale yeast and abbey and pilsner malts.
The result is a drinkable combination of a malty Belgian dubbel and the crisp hoppiness of a Czech pilsner.
“The response has been fantastic,” said Andrew Fabry, president of Badger State Brewing. “I think on even a bigger scale than we expected.”
Badger State went through about five quarter barrels of Dubbel Czech at its release party, which coincided with the Packers’ game against Detroit. He said that’s about double the sales of other beers that day.
“It’s a beer that’s very drinkable,” Fabry said. “I hate to look at it through the old stereotype that a lighter beer is more approachable to a wider demographic, but I think we see a lot more people willing to try the beer because of that. Coupled with the really cool label, it’s almost a perfect storm.”
The Dubbel Czech collaboration was born after Schwartz made an impromptu stop at Badger State last fall. He just wanted to check in and meet the guys behind the new brewery.
“I just kind of stopped in on a whim,” Schwartz said. “I knew there was a new brewery up there and I wanted to meet the guys. I figured we were at the same stage in our business development.”
Both MobCraft and Badger State launched in 2013. And they’re both helmed by a trio of twentysomething guys. Incidentally, those guys are all featured on the label for Dubbel Czech, crowding around The Player Who Is Not Rodgers.
“I’m the guy wearing a beanie,” said Fabry. He laughed about the headwear (“It’s not, like, my thing or anything…”) as he described the label and pointed out his co-founders, Mike Servi (holding a pint glass) and Sam Yanda (holding a poster with the Badger State logo).
Fabry said they didn’t set out to brew a football-themed beer, even though Badger State Brewing Company is situated just blocks away from Lambeau Field.
They did want the brew to debut on a Packers game day, though. (“Because you’ve got that guaranteed crowd on site,” Fabry said). Then the pieces just fell into place.
According to Fabry, Schwartz floated the idea of calling the brew, “Dubbel Czech.”
“At first, I had kind of the same reaction that everyone else has, ‘Oh, that sounds cool,’ and you let it sink in for five or ten seconds then you think, ‘Ooh, I get it’,” he said.
For those still a little confused about the possible reference in the name, watching this video may jog their memory:
Schwartz said the idea came from a slightly defensive place (“We were like, ‘We can actually brew a dubbel Czech, if anyone tried to sue us…”), but it was mostly just goofing off, joking, and running through a list of potential beer ingredients.
The ingredients came first and the catchy name followed.
“We try to come up with beer names that are sometimes relevant to Wisconsin,” said Fabry. Badger State has brews called Bunyan Badger, a brown ale, and Walloon Witbier, among others.
“We try to encompass that heritage, that culture, whenever we can,” he said. “It’s not something that we try to do directly, because you get into trademark things … I guess walk the line in this case.”
Dubbel Czech was brewed as a one-time, limited-release batch. It’s still available at House of Brews in Madison and at Badger State, as well as some specialty stores in Madison, Green Bay and Milwaukee – but both Schwartz and Fabry say stocks are getting low.
The breweries are planning another collaboration for the spring. Whether it’ll be Packer-related (yes, even in the off season), they can’t say.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of deal,” Fabry said.