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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kohler Festival of Beer Kicks Off Its Fourth Year

Sheboygan's 3 Sheeps among featured breweries

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For Grant Pauly, owner of and brewmaster for the new 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. in Sheboygan, Wis., brewing beer is, well, in his blood. Pauly's forefathers started up the Kingsbury Breweries Co. in 1847 and ran the company until it merged with G. Heileman Brewing Co. in 1963.

But it took another family member, his wife, to get him back in the beer game. "She got me a home brewing kit for Christmas seven years ago," the 29-year-old Kiel native says. "Once I started, I realized I finally found something I could do for a career."

Pauly's 3 Sheeps will be among the breweries featured at the fourth annual Kohler Festival of Beer, held June 1-3 in Kohler, Wis. There will be samplings of 3 Sheeps' Baaad Boy (Pauly's black wheat option) and Enkel Biter (an Abbey single), and Pauly will be a panelist at the "Beer Summit" event, along with representatives from Summit Brewing (St. Paul, Minn.) and Wisconsin's Central Waters Brewing (Amherst).

The Beer Summit is among this year's new educational events, according to Missy Dortman, Kohler American Club director of meetings and events. "We're modeling the Festival of Beer after our Food & Wine Experience, given all the interest people have in learning about various aspects of beer," Dortman says.

If the terms "beer" and "education" sound like a contradiction in terms, consider this: Beer aficionados can choose from a number of educational events this year, including "The Art of Barrel Making," "Crispin Cider & Cheese Pairing" (sour beers are currently trending) and, of course, "Home Brewing 101." All of the panelists for the Beer Summit, including Pauly, started out as home brewers.

On a tour of his brewery, located in the heart of downtown Sheboygan, Pauly explains where the name "3 Sheeps" comes from.

"Everyone says 'three sheets to the wind,'" Pauly says. "This being Wisconsin, I thought I'd give it a Wisconsin theme."

The name gives him much to play with, including soon-to-be-unveiled customized tappers featuring—what else—three sheep. It's easy to spot for bar patrons, as is Central Waters' intricately carved bird heads for tappers (because of its line of beers like Happy Heron Pale Ale).

As always, Kohler Festival of Beer attendees can look forward to some new brews, including samples from Boulder Beer Co. and Appleton's Stone Cellar Brewpub, according to Kohler American Club Beverage Manager Teo Zagroba.

To kick off the festival's official "Tapping Party," Michigan's New Holland Brewing will provide a "unique one-off beer" available solely at this event, as well as other brews available by tap only.

For those interested in some eats along with the drinks, Peter Clemens, chocolatier of Kohler's original recipe chocolates, will partner with Central Waters for the "Chocolate and Beer Tasting" event. If you thought beer only went with pizza and popcorn, you can now add dessert to that list as well. As Zagroba says, "Everything in moderation, including moderation."

Lest breakfast be left out of the festivities, there's the ongoing "Eggs & Kegs" that, yes, features a sampling of brews along with a hot breakfast buffet.

Given the current trend in sour beers, the festival will offer an educational session on "Sour Beer Blending," featuring Bockor Brewery of Bellegem, Belgium. Bockor is one of the few breweries worldwide that still practices all three main fermentation styles: top (or ale), bottom (or lager) and spontaneous (or sour). Attendees will get to sample five blends of spontaneously fermented sour beers straight from the barrel.

Pauly, whose 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. is the newest and youngest brewery in the festival, has come full circle as the next generation of his family in the brewing business. But he adds a contemporary twist to his forefathers' traditional beer recipes. The future promises a Rhubarb Brown Ale (for sour beer devotees) and a Ginger Chocolate Stout, for which the brewmaster will use actual dark chocolate in place of the typical cocoa powder.

"I love taking a good style of beer and giving people something familiar they had before," Pauly says. "But by creating my own recipes for these beers, I'll give them something to remember."

The fourth annual Kohler Festival of Beer runs June 1-3 in Kohler, Wis. For more information, call 1-800-344-2838 or visit www.americanclub.com/beerfestival.