By Nick Hanson
MANKATO — Really, could there be a more perfect time to debut a beer than at an event called Brew Fest?
That’s exactly what Mick Detviler was thinking as he prepared for the Mankato National Brew Fest this weekend.
So, the Gluek Brewery executive vice-president of sales decided to reintroduce Kato Beer at the festival this weekend, after an about 40 year hiatus of its distribution.
“We thought it would be a natural down in Mankato,” Detviler said.
Kato Beer is one of several Gluek is introducing this summer in concurrence with its 150th anniversary.
The amber ale has its roots in town, where it was produced at the Mankato Brewing Company near the current downtown area.
Gluek bought the recipe from the brewery back in the 1950s when it was facing some financial woes.
It was brewed locally and at the Cold Spring Gluek location until the late 1960s — around the time big brands like Budweiser and Michelob were introduced.
Now, with the resurgence and popularity of unique beers and micro breweries, Gluek is bringing it back.
“You’re starting to see some interesting brands and great products,” Detviler said.
Gluek test-marketed Kato Beer in the Twin Cities earlier this month, and plans to bring it to several other events this summer besides Brew Fest.
“The results were very, very good (in the cities),” Detviler said. “We’ve got very strong interest.”
It’s likely Kato Beer will become a seasonal tap in the Twin Cities area, and perhaps in Mankato.
Whether or not it will become a staple at local pubs depends on what people say about the beer this weekend. It’ll also depend on how willing local bars are to stock it.
“We’re going to find out,” Detviler said. “We’ll see what happens. I’m optimistic, but at the same time, we’ll see how it goes.”
What did a random unscientific sampling of Mankato area residents think of the brew on Friday afternoon?
Despite one bellowing, “Bleckkk!,” just about everyone said the vintage drink was tasty and well worth another look.
“It has the taste of a dark beer, but the uplift of an amber,” said Ted Collins, of North Mankato. “It’s the best of both worlds.”
James Silva, of Courtland, considers himself somewhat of a beer connoisseur. He ranks Kato Beer among the top three or four beers he tasted on Friday.
And he sampled nearly all of them.
“I try to hit them all. That is my goal,” Silva said. “That’s sort of my hobby — trying beers.”