Beers I’m Drinking Lately

Now, not all these are not winter beers, per se, more than they are beers that I am currently drinking. Dec 21st isn’t too far away, but don’t let the calendar run your beverage intake life. Here’s some standouts that currently have my heart:

1.) Anchor Christmas Ale – new year, new bottle, new recipe. Anchor has been serving up this end-of-the-year favorite now for 40 (!!!) years. Always dark, roasty, with some spice additions here and there, Anchor Christmas signifies the beginning of the holiday season. One day, I’ll find someone to race me in taking down one of the 1.5liter magnum bottles. Anchor Liter-hands?
Here’s a creepy 3-year old video describing the processes behind Anchor Christmas Ale from the brewery’s website.

2.) Three Floyds Alpha Klaus – An American porter with roasted English malts, Mexican sugar, and a myriad of hops. Normally I prefer 12oz offerings, but I’m always happy to pick up a bomber of this when I see it at retail.  At 6%, it won’t leave you slack-jawed and snoring on the couch after completion. One of the few Three Floyds selections that doesn’t have that same Three Floyds house yeast taste to it. A solid porter that belongs in your possession.

3.) New Belgium Accumulation – A criminally underrated beer that is described as a ‘white IPA’.  The addition of wheat brings a softer mouthfeel to the brew, while Mosaic and Amarillo dry hop additions create a citrusy spike.  Lemon, grapefruit, passion fruit? Love the aroma on this beer & also dig the fact that it’s the anti-winter winter beer. With all the nutmeg spice bombs floating around, grab this one for a whirl.

4.) Founders Dark Penance – I’ve had this massive black imperial IPA now from the bottle and on tap, and it hasn’t disappointed me yet. Fat, resinous ribbons of pine and sticky hop oils vanquish the tongue with every sip.  However the big malt additions leave a dark, roasty character too, so you won’t be completely overwhelmed. 100 IBUs and a cocky 8.9% will have your chest feeling a little warmer in no time. Please enjoy this one next to a crackling fire, or that shitty electronic space heater that you just plugged in.

5.) Victory Storm King Stout – When was the last time you had this one? I revisited it a week ago, and was surprised at how bitter this stout can get, especially as it warms. Quite a nice balance between the espresso-like flavors and the hoppy undertones. Did you know that Victory uses whole-cone flower hops in their beers? That’s expensive and a bit silly, but you can’t deny that this brew is delicious. Bitter bakers chocolate and an odd floral-ness not usually found in the style.

6.) Summit 3x Mild Ale – This spot was originally intended to go to Great Lakes Christmas Ale, but after having the new Union series beer from Summit, it was clear.  Admittedly, this is an odd beer and a difficult one to describe.  Not quite a hybrid beer, but not a traditional beer either. Using a variety of American and English malts and an experimental hop variety, the 3X Mild ale is really unlike anything I’ve had before. How this liquid is 7.2% is beyond me – it’s astonishingly drinkable and has a lingering sweetness that makes you come back for more. I’ve been a huge fan of the Union series of beers from Summit – bringing ingredients from around the world together for one cohesive experience. This press release can describe what’s going on much better than I can.

Go enjoy these beers now.

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In Search of Beer Outside of Madison

So last weekend I decided to take a trip towards the state capital to hunt for beer outside the city limits.  Finding good beer within is easy – but what about the outskirts?  My elastic waistband sweatpants and I left Milwaukee around noon in the midst of a dreary, overcast day.  As I exited on HWY 30, I realized how close to Karben 4  I was.  Having only been to the space while Ale Asylum inhabited it, I decided to go check out the spot and see if I could get some Fantasy Factory IPA bottles. There were plenty of growlers floating around, and the pub fare looked enticing, but sadly no bottles were available to-go. The bartender did say that they were currently bottling Fantasy Factory (Sure enough, the bottling line was humming along behind him; Unicorn-graced labels scurrying quickly in single-file fashion) and that they would be in distribution to local retail on Monday (Nov 24). Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Picking back up on the drive, I decided to head northwest to Middleton via 113 & M, two roads that I had never used before.  While living in Madison for years, I had never needed to check out the stretch of highways north of Lake Mendota. Noticed a few folks walking the trails of Governor Nelson State Park, which I didn’t even know existed. Either way, arrived at the first stop on my journey around 1:30pm – Craftsman Table & Tap.  Besides the Free House, this would probably be the only other place I’d stop in Middleton for good brews. A solid tap list included 4 Tyranena lines (remnants of a recent tap takeover, I’m sure), Lake Louie, O’So, and Karben4 from Wisconsin and Epic, Founders, Lagunitas, and Perennial to round out the selection. While the exterior screamed ‘ordinary’, inside Craftman’s wall holds inviting vibes.  A mix of earthy brown tones cover the tables, walls, and window shades here. Big booths covered the outside of the room, with a mixture of high & low top tables gathered towards the center. Perhaps it was the overcast day that made it seem dark & drab inside, but I was really in need of a fireplace here. But the food was great (especially for a Food Fight restaurant! Chicken & Avocado wrap was top notch), and it took every ounce of willpower for me not to order an Epic Big Bad Baptist.  Went with the Karben4 Lady Luck (or was it Block Party? There were conflicting menus) and watched some collegiate athletes throw a pigskin bladder on an elongated field.  Will be back in the summer season to sit on their rooftop patio. The 20 bar seats will have to suffice until it’s nice enough to go back out.  Crappy story short – I’d go here again.craftsmanpint

A quick swing southeast on the beltline (Madisonians call it this instead of a bypass. I’m not really sure why) brought me to the second stop, the Flying Hound Alehouse.  This unassuming pub sits in a newer, blossoming shopping area of Fitchburg.  It’s a short skip & a jump away from the HyVee.  Flying Hound has a good beer list that focuses on American crafts with a few of the Belgian & German standbys for folks who are afraid to get anything else. The Evil Twin Falco IPA was easily the most popular for the hour I was there – bartender probably poured about 10 snifters.  I opted for the Big Sky Slow Elk oatmeal stout, simply based on the fact that I couldn’t remember the last time I had anything from the Montana brewer.  It was on nitro, and it was just ok.  And since everyone is obsessed with local stuff, had a pint of Central Waters Mudpuppy porter immediately after, which I always enjoy. Not sure how new the Flying Hound is, but there wasn’t much going on in terms of decor. That being said, if I lived in Fitchburg and didn’t want to head into Madison, I’d either be at Flying Hound or the Fitchburg Dane.flyinghoundlistflyinghound

Continuing east, met up with a college buddy of mine who just had a kid.  I said salutations to the mother and baby, then immediately went to his basement to see how much his cellar had gotten out of control. There’s a lot of beer down there.  I didn’t snap a pic, but it’s rather impressive. Also impressive was the Toppling Goliath Naughty Temple that we opened. Last year’s release of a Templeton rye barrel aged India pale ale did not disappoint. Extremely drinkable at 7.2%. Smelled like booze and vanilla.  Tasted like oaky pine, a little sweetness in there too, really fun beer.  One of these days I’ll make the trek across the state and into Decorah, IA territory. Great beer.tgtemple

Nearing the end of my journey, I had to meet a friend downtown who was kind enough to get me a bottle of the extremely sought-after New Glarus Very Sour Peach:  The annual release before GTMW that sends Illinoisans into pandemonium.  This meeting point was the Echo Tap.  Businesses stay afloat by updating and revamping the food, spirits, and overall image, I get that.  But in the case of the Echo Tap, the venue was a shell of its former self. Gone are the days of the dark, dingy, dive-y feel of the Echo.  I don’t know when they remodeled, but the once magnificent gritty bar is no more. It’s now updated, complete with lighting (you can SEE the food & drinks!) and a big tap list.  What happened to my old Echo? The place where homeless folks and vagrants came in for a beer?  The dark upstairs section with the pool table with virtually no light? Times they are a changin.  I can’t hate on the bar too much though, as they have expanded their tap beer selection – and I had a Karben 4 Fantasy Factory.

All in all a great day with some great brews and good company. There’s plenty of good beer outside of Madison proper. Middleton, Fitchburg, Verona, and the list goes on from there.

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GABF 2014: Back for the First Time

The older I get, the less enthused I am about penning the perfect prose for your unwavering eyes. Yet here I am, staring at a computer screen, again writing about all things Great American Beer Festival. To cover the scope of the fest would be ludicrous, and much of what I said last year is still correct. There’s a lot of people to see. There’s a lot of incredible places to visit. There is a metric shit-ton of beer to consume. This was my 2nd trip to the GABF, so I’m back for the first time – smarter, sexier and destined to win.

Day 1:
After disembarking our plane (complete with Chauncey Billups in first class, sup dawg), our group of 5 hustled over to Avery Brewing Company in Boulder.  It was noon, the sun was shining, and about hundred people were already there, if not more. I’m a huge Avery fan, and their beers did NOT disappoint. They are currently building a much bigger brewery in a different location, which is a very good thing because this place was TINY.  Hopefully they’ll build a state-of-the-art facility to coincide with their world-class brews.  A monitor showing a skeleton of a building and construction equipment surrounding it was on display. Looks good so far.
Best Part:  Tasting PumpKYn for the first time. All their (jealous) neighbors in the industrial park with their obnoxious “NO AVERY PARKING” signs.

Shortly after some killer BBQ at Avery, we traveled a few minutes to Boulder brewing.  We abide-d and imbibed in the Dude’s Bane, their limited-release barrel-aged barleywine. Still a little young, this beer hasn’t hit its optimal taste just yet.  A nice treat though for sure, along with a sampler of the rest of the taproom stuff.
Best Part: The decadent Shake chocolate porter; also seeing the limited space their canning line uses, yet somehow still gets the job done.

We left to check into the Denver hotel and take a quick nap. One must be well rested and hydrated for the Thursday night GABF session. We arrived shortly after the opening, as to not wait in a silly line to enter. I was behind a tall white monster with 6′ dreadlocks on my way in. Upon inside, I spent most of the time wandering around the pacific and pacific northwest areas, jamming on some Almanac, Cellarmaker, and Speakeasy to name a few. The 2 standout suds for me were the Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin (because why wouldn’t you add pumpkin to a barleywine?) and the Yazoo Caribbean Daydream, an admittedly messy, complex brett beer that had no idea what it wanted to be. Loved it anyways. Bros “Ooooh’ed” when people dropped their plastic cups, the big brewers had huge lines, and mediocre food was had by some. I wandered and stopped at a few places with small or no lines. I did not get drunk. Plenty of other glossy-eyed folks did that for me.
Best Part: Mega hipster Garrett Oliver served me a Brooklyn Sorachi Ace.  He looks better in suspenders than I do. :(

Day 2:
We woke up too early to attend the Gospel Brunch at the Oskar Blues Hops & Heifers farm. It was a religious experience.  Go on this if you can, it’s worth the money. Ate the food, pet the goats, and drove back to their Tasty Weasel taproom when it opened. Grabbed some merch and beer to-go.
Best Part: Getting a Wayne’s World inspired shirt. Sipping on an extremely rich Coconut Porter, “Death By Coconut”.

On to Left Hand.  A brewery also in the process of buying the land next door and across the street for a major expansion. Forgot how good their Oktoberfest is – a great representation of the style. Warrior IPA was fresh and pungent.
Best Part: Trying to wrap my head around their machine that carbonates/nitrogenates their bottled brews. I can’t even explain it properly.  Engineers are smart people.

Back to Denver. We have more to drink, obviously.  A quick stop at Breckenridge Brewery downtown location. Right next to Coors field, and in walking distance to many other places on our list.
Best Part: Sorry, but the awesome booze selection here wins out.  Their Agave Wheat was simple and easy like Sunday morning, but I noticed the great Colorado whiskeys and bourbons. Also, the guest taps here were pretty impressive as well.

We decide to walk to The Source. The route takes you under a sketchy overpass or two, but within 30 minutes you’re standing outside a massive brown brick warehouse. Within the Source are the magicians who work for Crooked Stave, masters of brewing sour brett infused morsels of delight. Our group of 5 probably had every 4oz taster of what was available, each being better than the last. Blueberry, Pomegranate, Cherry; whatever your heart desired, they create a sour funk fruit beer to quench your thirst.  It was mind-blowing, as was the line of beer nerds 5 deep at the small bar for the hour+ we stayed. 4 bartenders handled the majority of the parched dogs barking requests at them, but not well enough as our tab was probably $100 cheaper than it should have been. Thanks Denver, you’re the best.
Best Part: The beers, and the overall vibe in Crooked Stave within The Source. Well done.

Uber, you beautiful bastards, come get us, take us to Falling Rock! It’s around 8pm at this point, and with GABF night 2 in full swing, we decide to take advantage of the (possible) space still available at the mecca of beer bars in Denver. Like a hawk on a field mouse, we preyed over a table until we no doubt scared a gaggle of girls away. Victory was ours, and soon Firestone Walker DBA was mine. Yet another brewery that doesn’t make a bad one. Chicago rebels Revolution had an outdoor tap event around 9 or 10, so I had a Bean Gene porter that I liked very much.  A fun-loving Sam Calagione was next to me at this point, but was getting mobbed by fun-loving drunk folks, so I missed my opportunity for some DFH wisdom or a joke or something. I am once again not drunk, just extremely tired, slightly dehydrated (even with the numerous pints of agua), and dreaming of a night that doesn’t involve sleeping with tiny throw pillows under my head.  Some old friends I went to college with swung by around 11pm.  Let me tell you that 11pm is a poor time to be at Falling Rock during GABF.
Best Part: The drunk couple that sat next to our table and gave me a few ounces of Firestone Walker PNC, a crazy tequila-bbl-aged imperial stout.  Thanks drunk San Diegans.

Day 3:
Fort Collins. Had never been there before. Will definitely go back. A great area code.
Lunch at Choice City Butcher & Deli.  If I owned a place, it would be a mirror image of this. Amazing tap beer aside some huge-ass sandwiches. What’s not to like?
We check out the juggernaut New Belgium Brewing. It’s large.  They brew a lot of beer. The tour is 90 minutes.
Best Part: Tour guide Tara, and being in the same room with the Foeders that contain La Folie and Le Terroir. Tasty.

Onward to Odell, where I finally could get my fix of Myrcenary. Myrcenary is possibly my favorite double IPA on the planet.  It’s a sticky, resinous hop poltergeist that’s sent to destroy your esophagus. If ever a beer could be described as grapefruit without actually having grapefruit in it – it’s this one. A stunning outdoor seating area encompassed most of the brewery surroundings. Dogs, kids, families, old senile folks – people of all ages enjoyed this spot. Killer vibe, and the 90’s Pandora (I’m assuming) blasting from the speakers didn’t hurt either.
Best Part: Tupac’s “How Do You Want It” providing a stellar backdrop for busting a cap in Myrcenary’s ass.

Picture us rollin’ to The Mayor of Old Town (how did this go from a Ludacris theme to ‘pac?), where we gawked at 100 tap lines and ordered some decent bar grub. Too much fun stuff to have here, so we all ordered a sampler flight of 4 brews.  Not sure why I do this to myself. Still not sure exactly what it was, but there was a New Belgium Quad Shandy (not a typo) drank. It was oddly satisfying.

Onward to Funkwerks. It’s a dark night out now, and I have no idea where we are or how we got there. Extremely small brewery perfecting the art of saisons & belgian ales. I decided to go with their Dahlia, a strong Belgian Dark Ale that tasted like burnt raisons alongside some malty sweetness. Should have stuck with the raspberry brew that everyone else was raving about. Ah well. Let’s go somewhere else while we’re still coherent!
Best Part: The plethora of to-go bottles from Funkwerks. That Raspberry Provencal was dynamite.

The hippies were camped inside Equinox Brewing, gently swaying to some vocal-deprived rock-jazz-fusion ‘band’. I was not on enough hallucinogens to understand what anyone was dancing to, so our group basically sat around a table and didn’t talk to each other. We cropdusted the place a few times, shared a few chuckles, and left hour into being there.
Need sleep.
Best Part: Laughing at the few locals who were so high they could barely function.

We came home the next day. We watched football in the airport. I reminisced about visiting 10 breweries in 3 days on top of attending GABF.  I needed water.

Here are some pictures.

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Lazy Post: Quick Thoughts on GTMW 2014

I’m not hungover today, which is a miracle (and a disappointment, I suppose).  Even though I feel just fine, I seriously lack the motivation to develop a proper post on this year’s Great Taste of the Midwest. It was fun. Many beers were had. Some better than others. Saw some old friends. Met some new friends. Waited in some lines. Didn’t wait in others. Got sunburned. Thanked volunteers. Took a taxi. Ate some Rocky Rococo’s pizza.

My Favorite Beers of the Fest:

Kuhnhenn ‘Pure Michigan’ Peach Lager – Light in color, tart in flavor, wonderful.

Kuhnhenn Caramel Cocoa Macaroon Coffee Stout (firkin) – “Ok, I’ll try this, but there’s no way a beer with this many flavors or ingredients will be good.”  (Sips beer)  “Ok this is good.” The firkin tent was unstoppable this year.

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Brett 4th Dimentia (firkin) – “Why’d they have to add brett to this beer? It was great on its own.” (Sips beer) “Oh come on!”

Surly Cacao Bender – Brown ale infused with coffee, vanilla and cacao nibs. I enjoy the coffee notes in this. Still one of my favorites of all time.

Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue – Obviously.

Boulevard Hibiscus Gose – Why was there no line for Boulevard? Shame on you people.

Boulevard Two Jokers – Why not make a huge witbier?

Surly Darkness (firkin) – Better (and hoppier) than I thought it would be.

Side Project Brewing Blueberry Flanders – Was easily the best beer I had at the event. Sour blueberry extravaganza. Needed more of this, for sure. Amazing stuff.

Quick Thoughts:

Booth-wise, New Holland’s ‘Caddyshack’ theme was deserving of 1st place. Also enjoyed the other movie themed booth: Goose Island’s Blues Brothers, complete with full band playing behind chicken wire. Did not like waiting in Goose Island’s line though.
Revolution’s “Gene Pool” was fantastic as well – really enjoyed the ‘Bean Gene’ (coffee beans added to Eugene Porter). Others raved about the Blue Gene (blueberries added to Eugene). Why was Founders on the hill all by themselves? Why was the line for Half Acre absolutely ridiculous all damn day?

I mostly enjoyed the obvious trend of session, gose, and berliner weiss beers at this year’s GTMW. You could find a low alcohol summer sipper at virtually every booth. Had the Guava at 5Rabbits, Pickle Kolsch at Flat12, Counter Clockweiss Berliner Weiss at Destihl – the list goes on and on. There were still the imperial stout giants and fat, sticky double ipas, but I opted to go for sweet, tart, and dry light-abv’s for the most part. And I was rewarded.  However, Central Waters award-winning 16, Odd Side Ales Mayan Mocha Stout, and Indeed’s Rum King Imperial Stout all graced my glass.

What else? The GTMW app was great.

Here’s a picture gallery for you to look at.

 

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5 Non-WI Beers You Should Probably Be Drinking Right Now

Did you know there’s other beer manufacturers outside the state of Wisconsin? Shocking, I know. Here are the beverages from other American places that I’ve been downing lately:

Dogfish Head Festina Peche - A tart morsel of perfection, Dogfish Head Festina Peche lays prickly groundwork on your tongue through a transformation of peach flavor and carbonation. Very light, very satisfying. 4.5% means you can have a few. Glad to see DFH back in our market here after their absence. A refreshing Berliner Weiss treat. Also, there’s this:

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Westbrook Gose - A near-defunct style that beckons for summertime, this traditional German brew made by Westbrook in South Carolina is just about perfect. Per usual, I prefer the canned format.  A sour, salty brew that pours a cloudy haze for days. A lot citrusy, a little salty, with large, billowy white head. Talk about your desert-island beer – this 4% is a true winner.

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Anderson Valley (The Kimmie, The Yink & The) Holy Gose
Another Gose makes the list. This one a bit more sour – with tangy lemon dominating the palate. Soft wheat and spice notes round out the finish. Part of their ‘HWY 128 Series’ that I honestly know very little about, this northern California brewer gets very little love in our parts. I implore you check this one out if you can find it. Perhaps their best brew yet.

Summit Union Series #3: Southern Cape Sparkling Ale
Our neighbors to the northwest blend a variety of interesting and hard-to-find ingredients to make the #3 beer in their Union Series: Southern Cape. A remarkably balanced ale that blends Australian pale malt, Chilean caramel malt, Waimea hops from New Zealand and Southern Passion hops from South Africa. This beer is simple while being complex, if that makes any sense whatsoever. Taste follows the nose – slight bitterness without being too forward. Very light on the tongue with a taste that’s difficult to describe. Almost a champagne quality in this – 4.4% and one that I’ve gone back to multiple times so far this summer.

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Avery IPA - Honestly I could have chosen about 380 other out-of-state IPAs for the last spot, but something continues to lure me back to Avery. White Rascal is smart for the times, but Avery’s IPA is just dynamite. Pours a glowing orange, pungent floral hop bouquet, with 1″ of foam. Sticky, oily perfection. Quickly becoming one of my most-purchased IPA’s. Delicious in any package, and one of my favorites from Colorado.

Enjoy the summer, it’ll be gone tomorrow…

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5 WI Beers You Should Probably Be Drinking Right Now

I mean, do whatever you want, but these beers are tasting mighty fresh right now.

New Glarus Dancing Man Wheat – Nothing says summer like a quaff-able hefeweiss. Our favorite with-yeast German brew sticks around for a few months here, but I always notice that it disappears earlier and earlier as the years have gone by. Your typical banana & clove nose with a prickly carbonated mouthfeel really signify that warm weather is here. Put on your dancing pants and get to it. (I imagine lederhosen are too hot to dance in, though?)

New Glarus Thumbprint Berliner Weiss - So it might be a little over-carbonated now. So the brewery might want it pulled from shelves.  So you may have a hard time finding it. Unless you’re me, who has a case in the basement, resting silently. A shockingly Rayon Vert-esque 4-5″ foamy head will greet you upon first pour. Make yourself a sandwich or watch an episode of Family Feud and come back to it later. This 2.5% patio pounder still tastes perfect, regardless of any secondary fermentation issues the bottle might have. This is still a great beer and a great style for the 3 months where our weather is actually nice. Open carefully, pour slowly, sip onward.

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Karben 4 Fantasy Factory - Holy hell this brew is just about perfect. Massive citrus notes upon a sweet, grainy malt base. Mango, passion fruit, and grapefruit envelop the tongue and take you on a ride to pleasure town. Oh, we’re going all right. Readily available in Madison and at a few select venues in Milwaukee. Seek it out if you’re looking for a dynamite American IPA. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on these guys – everything I’ve had from them so far has been a winner.

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Black Husky Howler (Simcoe and Equinox versions) A 10.5% pale ale, served on tap and in a 22oz bomber in the Milwaukee area.  A mighty malted brew that stacks up against the huge hop addition in it. Massive without being offensive, nano-brewmaster Tim Eichinger has easily made my favorite brew of the year so far with Howler. A touch of honey adds a nice dimension to this – an essence of sweetness lingers for a second before the sticky hops ravage the enamel on your teeth. Black Husky also brewed with a new hop variety titled “Equinox” which is known for its unique citrus aromatic components and oily profile. Personally I found the Equinox to be high in vegetal-type content. I prefer the Simcoe version, but the Equinox hopped variety was interesting yet different enough to ensure my full attention. Pick either, you’ll still be a winner.

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Milwaukee Brewing Company Outboard Cream Ale - Within the sexy, sleek 16oz sky blue can hides a beautiful example of what a refreshing cream ale should taste like. Easily Milwaukee Brewing Company’s best beer to date, Outboard sings with a soft wheat-base and just a morsel of bitterness in the back end. However this beer is not hoppy, rather a happy dose of cereal-malted goodness with a slap of sweetness in the back end. Crushable 5%. Typically a style that doesn’t usually receive a lot of love. (Had it been available at the time of this posting, the soon-to-be released M.B.C Increase Wheat would have been in this Outboard spot. Increase Wheat is a Berliner Weiss made with Gooseberries – sweet and sour as advertised.  I was able to get a taste of this at the brewery last week and did NOT disappoint. Drink this in July and August while it lasts)

Fellow Wisconsinites – what are your favorite summer brews to sip on?

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Milwaukee Beer Week 2014 – There Will Be Beer

Milwaukee Beer Week is back with a new website, another passport, and seemingly bigger and better events. There will be beer.

Combing through all the bars & restaurants participating can be a little daunting. Picking your poisons can be as well. The following are events that I feel will most likely be the brightest this year.   You’ll be able to find me at the majority.

Saturday April 26
The annual 4pm beer week firkin kick-off is in full effect again, with your usual craft-pouring venues tapping casks.  I’ll probably opt for places like Hotel Foster, Steny’s, World of Beer, or Benno’s. It’s always a surprise what firkins are tapped where, so go with your heart, I guess?
Not on the official event listing is the Bottle Trade Event at Hoyt Park @ The Landing in Tosa. Craftbeercompass has officially declared this the first of its kind during the week – you can check out his event listing here. Goes from 3:30-5pm.
If you’re not into the guessing game when it comes to firkins, Finks has a Lagunitas L’il Sumpin Sumpin they’re tapping at 5pm. It’s also bring-your-own-vinyl night there, so dust off your momma’s 50’s showtunes records and show the eastsiders what’s up.

Sunday April 27
3Sheeps Brewery and Collectivo Coffee get together for a coffee & beer-themed brunch at the Iron Horse hotel from 8am-noon.  You do not need reservations for this event, just stop in between the times mentioned. The 3 Sheeps founders will be going from table to table with beer flights as well, I’ve heard. The Collectivo coffee used in the Cortado Stout and Hello, My Name is Joe porter (I think?) should caffeinate  your morning well.
After the shakes subside, it’s worth checking out Discount Liquor’s “Crafts & Drafts” event, being held at Hart Park this year.  Heard some great reviews of the charity event last year, with rare Euro & American beers abound.  As of this post, not sure how many VIP/General tickets are still available – but there is a commercial on the radio promoting it.
If you’re not able to get into C&D, Points East is showcasing big ABV% beers all week, including the Ommegang Game of Thrones series, which are usually fun. Appearances by North Coast, Avery, and Epic are on the list as well there I think.  Can’t go wrong with a dozen wings!

Monday April 28
Sanford, arguably the best fine-dining restaurant in Milwaukee, is hosting a “cellared” beer dinner. Each course is expertly paired with a brew that’s been carefully aged over a few years. Long story short – if beer dinners are your thing, this will be one that will become legendary. I’ve heard that this event has been planned for almost a year and features cellars from a few restaurants, bars, and private owners’ own reserves. If you have the money and the time, I highly suggest going to this. Not sure on price or # of seats, but I have a feeling that people will be talking about this one for years to come.
If your budget doesn’t allow a Sanford dinner, the other big event of the evening is the rare beer tapping at Palm Tavern. Barrel-aged beauties from  a variety of suppliers will certainly pack this cozy spot. 6pm is the start time, and you can bet many of the kegs are small and will run dry quickly. Don’t miss this one, if you can squeeze in.
After Palm Tavern, head northeast to the nautical-themed Blue Jacket for an evening with 3 Sheeps flights and appetizers. If the weather is nice enough (unlikely), maybe the garage-door-wall will be opened. For what it’s worth, this Monday looks to be one of the marquee nights for Milwaukee Beer Week. Tuesday a.m. outlook: sucky.

Tuesday April 29
Plenty of  food-inspired events to choose from today.  A 7-course Central Waters pairing at Palomino is intriguing. To the west in Waukesha, Bernie’s Tap Room is tapping KBS for all you hunters that didn’t score a bottle (myself included).  Both of those are neat & all, but you’ll find me at Roman’s for the Goose Island, Charcuterie & Cheese event, which starts at 5pm.

Wednesday April 30
At this point, I’ll probably need to take a vacation day to recover from the previous few days. That vacation day will come to a screeching halt as Landmark 1880 puts a few Avery specialties on tap at 2pm. (Liquid lunch, anyone?) Afterwards, grabbing dinner at Tess sounds like a good idea, as their annual Goose Island beer week beer dinner kicks off around 6pm. I can’t stress enough how great beer dinners are at Tess – I’ve been to 5 of them now. While many other venues can lack in execution, the people at Tess are true professionals when it comes to putting these on. If you’ve never been to a Tess brew dinner, make your way over and enjoy how it’s done.
Tradition does come into play though, as Burnhearts brings a flock of herons at 6pm.  Their Central Waters takeover event always brings limited and one-off suds just for beer week. A plum-infused beer, a cask of illumination with added pineapple and coconut, and the juggernaut anniversary brew ’16’ will be on tap, among many others. I’ll…need a ride home.  Might be a good time to test out Uber. I’ll never test Lyft as I will never enter a car that has a pink mustache on its grill. I mean, that just seems like common sense.

Thursday May 1st
A Surly beer dinner at Rumpus? Is this for real? Can it be?  I can barely find the words to convey my excitement. NO REALLY, this is happening! Spots are filling up quickly though, so if you want in, I’d call soon.  Don’t know much about this one right now though.
If that event is full, head over to the revamped Spin (now EVO) and play ping pong while sipping on a KBS, Sweet Repute, or Centennial IPA. That event starts at 6pm, and you’d be high not to go.
If ping pong isn’t your thing, head over to The Stone in Bay View for some specialty tappings from Boulder Brewery. Always enjoy my time at the Stone – just a great neighborhood spot that I feel needs a bit more attention.  Or don’t go, that’s fine too.

Friday May 2nd
Friday in Wisconsin means Fish Fry’s everywhere.  Beer Bistro, Trocadero, Benno’s, Tess – pick a place and enjoy regional tradition.
The barrel-aged beer and spirits event at Prodigal is where I’ll be though. One of my new favorite spots in Milwaukee. Always has an eclectic beer and bourbon list, and the food is wonderful. Virtue cider will be pouring at this event, which is reason enough to go.  A barrel-aged Oskar Blues brew is icing on the cake.  Call for reservations.

Saturday May 3
Beer week comes to a close. We’ll stumble out of bed with bloodshot eyes & shriveled livers, ready to close out the insanity. How about some cocktails to switch things up? Boone & Crockett has you covered.
In my opinion, the big event of the day goes to World of Beer on Brady St, which is throwing up 30 (!!!) New Belgium taps.  Proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Humane Society, so I’ll definitely be in attendance. Felix Rarity, La Folie, and their Lips of Faith collaborations will be mine.
Otherwise I heard great things about the Sugar Maple Sausage Party last year (a sentence I never thought I’d write), so I may check that out if there’s time between Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond.  I have a feeling Sugar Maple will be tapping some things not even mentioned on the beer week paraphernalia, so don’t be surprised if you wander in during the week and see something on draught that…shouldn’t be there…but is.
Another great event to close beer week is the Central Waters, New Glarus, Sprecher, 3 Sheeps beer & cheese pairing at Wisconsin Cheese Mart/Uber Tap Room. Decisions decisions – it’s a difficult life we all lead.

Final reminders: Drink Water. Be nice to people and your bartenders. Taxis are smart.  Enjoy good beer.

Thank you for reading.

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