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Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013

Beer: The Stein in the Dine

DRINK 2013

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The Stein in the Dine

Each fall, the Shepherd Express’ Drink section celebrates Milwaukee’s love of beer. This year, Drink focuses on the many beer vendors from around Wisconsin (and beyond) who took part in the Shepherd Express’ first annual Stein and Dine held this past April 27 at State Fair Park. Thanks to all of you for helping to make the first Stein and Dine a success. The event will return next spring.

 

3 Sheeps Brewing Company

3sheepsbrewing.com

It’s tough to stand out in today’s crowded craft beer market, but Sheboygan’s young 3 Sheeps Brewing Company specializes in beers that are truly unique. The brewery’s Baaad Boy Black Wheat beer is darker than almost any wheat beer on the market, nearly as black as many porters or stouts. The Rebel Kent The First amber ale, meanwhile, follows the template for a standard Belgian Abbey, except the recipe is balanced with rye malt, which imparts some surprising spicy notes. (Evan Rytlewski)

 

Abita Brewery

abita.com

Honestly, I didn’t know this was a real brewery until recently. I was aware of the brand through the movie Waiting, but upon actually discovering it was a real brewery, I had to try it. Abita’s best-known brew is called Purple Haze, which is definitely a good place to start. However, they make a red lager that I highly recommend as well. No dice with going on a tour anytime soon, however, as this company is based in Louisiana. In the meantime, crank up some Hendrix and drink that Purple Haze! (Maxwell Thiesenhusen)

 

Atwater Brewery

atwaterbeer.com

Undoubtedly the strangest brewery I have ever heard of, Atwater produces some of the most unique brews on the market. For example, if you’re feeling brave, try Atwater’s Blueberry Cobbler Fruit/Vegetable beer. Definitely something different! Of course, being a Midwest brewing company (Detroit), Atwater does have a twist on the classic Oktoberfest brew. Called Blöktoberfest, this is a blend of the Oktoberfest brew and Märzen, which is more of a pale lager. The blend results in something a little easier to swallow but with the full flavor you’d expect from an Oktoberfest brew. (M.T.)

 

Berghoff Brewery

berghoffbeer.com

Brewed in Stevens Point, Wis., Berghoff is best remembered for old-school German-American beer, but in recent years the brewery has updated its product line with a playful Solstice Wit and a distinctly modern Straight-Up Hefe-Weizen. One of its finest beers arrives in the fall: Berghoff’s spin on the Oktoberfest is lighter and less bready than traditional recipes, making it easy to kick back quite a few. (E.R.)

 

Big Bay Brewing Company

bigbaybrewing.com

Drinkability is the operative word for North Shore’s Big Bay Brewing Company. The brewery’s Wavehopper Kölsch tastes even lighter than its 4.8% alcohol content. It’s a light-bodied German-style beer with an agreeable hops flavor and an exceptionally clean finish. The Boatilla Amber Ale is brewed with the same yeast and hops as the Kölsch and is similarly sessionable. Even the Long Weekend India Pale Ale goes down fast and easy. These are beers for hot summer days. (E.R.)

 

Black Husky Brewing

blackhuskybrewing.com

OK, let’s be honest: How many people are aware of this brewery, or where Pembine, Wis., is? I certainly wasn’t, so of course I was intrigued. The one brew I had at least seen before was Sproose Joose, which is definitely worth trying. For the stout lover, I would recommend trying one of their seasonal beers, especially the Milk Stout. I have recently fallen in love with milk stouts, and this ranks in my top three favorites. This brand is a little harder to find, but keep your eyes peeled because it’s worth the hunt. (M.T.)

 

Blue Moon Brewing Company

bluemoonbrewingcompany.com

I’m always pleased to drink the signature Belgian White, a beer to savor. It seems a little smoother, more refined, more softly sweetened with orange and coriander than other wheat ales. Recently, I bought an Autumn Sampler pack as research. I’d like to rave about the Harvest Pumpkin Ale, a creamy treat with pumpkin pie ingredients, and say I’m haunted by the Caramel Apple Spiced Ale, which tastes just like its name but, happily, is more apple-y than sugar sweet. From the company’s anti-realist Expressionist Collection, the bracing Rounder and tart Short Straw Farmhouse Red Ale cleared my palate nicely. (John Schneider)

 

Boston Beer Company

samueladams.com, bostonbeer.com

If you’re like me, the name of the brewery might be unfamiliar, but then the beer list rolls out: Samuel Adams—hands down one of my favorite lagers on the market. It’s a perfect balance of hops and yeast, and the flavor reflects that. It’s easy to tell how much care goes into the making of this lager and it is something everyone needs to try. If you’ve never had it before, I recommend first having it on tap. (M.T.)

 

Capital Brewery

capital-brewery.com

Since the mid-’80s, Middleton’s Capital Brewery has consistently been producing some of the state’s best-rated beer, garnering awards and honors from around the country. Each of its eight year-round beers is nearly perfectly balanced, especially the Supper Club, a deceptively subtle lager with addictively understated notes of caramel. Day trippers will want to make the drive to the brewery, which sports a bustling beer garden. (E.R.)

 

Chick Beer

chickbeer.com

Chick Beer is a new, pink-packaged, craft-brewed light beer “made exclusively for women.” A 12-ounce serving has 97 calories, 3.5 grams of carbohydrates and 4.2% alcohol by volume. It’s brewed to minimize bitterness, emphasize smoothness and is lightly carbonated. Chick Beer also donates 5% of its profits to “charities that empower women,” such as Dress for Success and Women’s Sports Foundation. The beer is currently found in stores and bars throughout the Midwest, but the company is working on widening its distribution. Visit its website to find out more about where and how to buy it in your area. (Danielle Stevens)

 

Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer

crabbiesgingerbeer.com

After two or three of these, “crabbie” is sure to be an inapt characterization of your demeanor. Notwithstanding their playful façade, the folks at Crabbie’s take their libation seriously. Well they should—they’ve been at it since 1801. Between ground and growler lies a lengthy journey for the eponymous ginger. The intrepid root is shipped from the Far East and then steeped for up to eight weeks. The resultant versatile brew holds its own alone but also plays well with others. (Tyler Friedman)

 

Delafield Brewhaus

delafield-brewhaus.com

The intersection of I-94 and Highway 83 in Delafield is a maze of motels, big-box stores and strip malls, but Delafield Brewhaus offers respite from the noise. Enter through the beer hall, a two-story space with a balcony. Brewery tanks fill the center of the room and a large bar is off to one side. Wisconsin beer memorabilia adorns the walls. In one corner, what appears to be an oversized wooden beer barrel is actually a wood oven used for baking pizzas. Several of the fine flavored house-brewed beers are always available. (Jeff Beutner)

 

Destihl Brewery

destihlbrewery.com

The variety of beers that Destihl brews (60) makes one’s head spin. The rest of your body will spin too if you’ve undertaken the Herculean task of sampling them all. In short, the folks at Destihl are a relentlessly inventive bunch of brew hounds. What other company can boast of bottling a Bavarian-style, all-barley amber ale with Weissbier yeast (Dampfbier), an oatmeal stout with espresso coffee added (Jivaro), and a bourbon barrel-aged barley wine-style ale made with rye (Antiquity)? (T.F.)

 

Esser’s Brewing Company

essersbest.com

It’s the classic tale: young German boy immigrates to the States with nothing but a few pfennigs in his pocket and the clothes on his back (Lederhosen, one hopes). Through toil and tenacity he turns his love of Deutsches Bier into his livelihood. Take pride, cheeseheads, because George Esser’s instantiation of the American Dream took place right here in Wisconsin. Although the junger Mensch arrived in 1852, six generations later his original recipe is still proudly bottled. (T.F.)

 

Geneva Lake Brewing Co.

genevalakebrewingcompany.com

The craft brewery’s no-frills tap room offers sample servings, 22-ounce bottles or half-gallon refillable growlers (and six-packs, soon). Owner Pat McIntosh offers a grain-to-guzzle tour—malt milling and straining through sweetness-cutting hops into the brown brew kettle to the stainless yeast-removing fermenters and “aesthetic” filters. No Wake IPA and Cedar Point Amber Ale tasted the best among five excellent flavors. Home brewing start-up materials and workshops are offered at Lake Geneva Brewing Emporium, 640 W. Main St., Lake Geneva. (Kevin Lynch)

 

Grimbergen

grimbergenbeer.com

May I generalize? Belgians do beer right. Belgian monks, especially. They really get the Holy Spirit into their spirits. While not as impressive as turning water into wine, Grimbergen has had much success turning water into great beer with the help of hops and malts. And seeing as the Grimbergen Abbey was founded in 1128, they’ve had enough practice to approximate perfection. Expect the common abbey beers (Blonde, Double, Triple) to be uncommonly good. (T.F.)

 

The Grumpy Troll

thegrumpytroll.com

Mt. Horeb’s Grumpy Troll is run by a bunch of culinary polymaths. Their premises house a brewery and a restaurant of diverse offerings, as well as a gourmet pizzeria whose dough uses the same grains as their brewery. Supposing you live in or near Mt. Horeb, you’ll find a number of events revolving around the Grumpy Troll. For example, join the weekly bike club with which you can burn calories before replacing them at the restaurant with a discount. (T.F.)

 

Horny Goat Brewing Company

hghideaway.com, hornygoatbrewing.com

It’s a matter of style. Can you suavely ask your bartender for a Horny Blond? Or request a couple of Hopped Up ’N Horny IPA’s? Do you blanch over the fact that Stacked is a milk stout? Exposed, a cream ale? (The latter, a burst of sweet liquor, is better with every swallow.) This brewery really puts out. Each of their beers is a fairly intense version of its genre. Pumped up, you might say—macho. There’s a whole dessert case of Seasonals, including HornyCopia (pumpkin pie), Brownie Porter (vanilla, hazelnut, cinnamon, chocolate), Watermelon Wheat (those yummy things) and Chocolate Cherry Stout (sex). (J.S.)

 

Würzburger Hofbräu

wuerzburger-hofbraeu.de

Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1545-1617) wielded an impressive résumé. Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, founder of the Julius Hospital, re-founder of the University of Würzburg, enemy of witches. High time someone named something fine and frothy after this prince of a bishop. The Würzburger Hofbräu has stepped up with this Hefeweiß bier (wheat beer). Since enjoying responsibly goes without saying, the Hofbräu requests via their slogan: Genießen unter einem guten Stern (enjoy under a lucky star). (T.F.)

 

Kronenbourg

kronenbourg1664.com

Alcoholically speaking, the French tend to be associated with wine. Kronenbourg Brewery proves they are no less proficient with the grain than the grape. Market share doesn’t lie and Kronenbourg has a number of beers testifying to its popularity. Their Kronenbourg 1664 is the best-selling lager in all of France and pays tribute to the brewery’s birth year, back when France was still part of the Holy Roman Empire. If salability suggests quality, one ought to give it a try. Though, seeing as Kronenbourg also produces about 300 other beer brands, they’ll be hard to avoid. (T.F.)

 

Lakefront Brewery

lakefrontbrewery.com

Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery offers one of Beer City’s most popular brewery tours. At $7 a tour you get to sample some great beer and learn about the beginnings of the now-well-known brewery. The guides are extremely friendly and probably love the beer more than anyone of the tour (they drink with you!). And for the tourist or collector among us, Lakefront has a new pint glass on cycle constantly. Can you collect them all? Do it—I dare you. (M.T.)

 

Leinenkugel Brewing Company

leinie.com

For as long as I remember drinking, I’ve enjoyed the original Leinie’s. Jacob Leinenkugel founded the brewery in 1867 in Chippewa Falls, Wis. His great-great grandchildren run it today. Every spring, when the weather turns warm, I buy a case of Berry Weiss to celebrate. If it’s a good spring, I celebrate again with the lemony Summer Shandy. There’s a new Orange Shandy for autumn, as candy-like as the others, also not for chugging but for toasting life. The family’s German ancestry informs the character of its many beers, most markedly the fall Oktoberfest and year-round Honey Weiss, which boasts Wisconsin honey. (J.S.)

 

Mike’s Hard Lemonade

mikeshard.com

In line with its slogan, “always different, always refreshing,” Mike’s Hard Lemonade regularly develops punchy new flavors and breaks into new sectors of the alcohol market. Last spring, for instance, Mike’s introduced Authentic Shandy Hard Lemonade & Lager, a classic combination with a slightly lower alcohol content than the original Mike’s. Other new offers include Smashed Apple Cider and a line of single-serving frozen drink packs in several lemonade flavors as well as margarita. (Selena Milewski)

 

Milwaukee Brewing Company

mkebrewing.com

Amazingly, Milwaukee Brewing Company’s brews seem still to be relatively unknown in the greater Milwaukee area. Honestly, I feel bad for the people who are unaware. I rank these brews at the high end of local brewing and I absolutely recommend the “Admiral” Stache porter. But for the lighter beer connoisseurs, there is O-Gii brew, which is made with white tea and is one of the higher alcohol beers MKE makes. Also, I recommend actually visiting the brewery itself if you want the full selection of beer offered. (M.T.)

 

Moa Brewing

moabeer.com

The moa was a wingless (and, a fortiori, flightless) bird that called New Zealand its home for millions of years. Around the 15th century, Mother Nature issued a recall on the species. Moa beer also hails from New Zealand and has weathered the vicissitudes of evolution more efficiently than its avian counterpart. The company prides itself on using local ingredients as well as importing tricks of the winemaking trade. Unique products result; to wit, Moa Breakfast: a lager that may well replace Folgers as “the best part of waking up.” (T.F.)

 

Orkney Brewing

sinclairbreweries.co.uk

The beers flowing from Scotland’s Orkney Brewery may well be the preferred whistle-wetter for scholars of Neolithic culture, by virtue of proximity if for no other reason. In addition to these fine beers, Orkney also plays host to Neolithic archaeological sites of international renown. Whether you are looking for a beer inspired by and dedicated to Vikings (Skull Splitter—the nickname of a bellicose 10th-century Norseman) or just a humble, if delicious, traditional Scottish ale (Dark Island), Orkney Brewing has you covered. (T.F.)

 

O’so Brewing Company

osobrewing.com

The Stevens Point suburb Plover isn’t the most jumping metropolis in the state, but since 2007 it’s hosted one of Wisconsin’s fastest expanding breweries. O’so offers a diverse product line that covers all of the basics (and includes a confidently citrusy wheat ale, The Big O), but the real attraction for beer lovers is the company’s limited edition “extreme beers.” Each is aged in wood barrels, some of them for years, and each is strong enough to live up to its “extreme” billing. (E.R.)

 

Pangaea Beer Company

pangaeabeers.com

Approximately 300 million years ago, Earth’s entire landmass was congealed in a single supercontinent. This was Pangaea. As time has drifted on, so have our continents drifted apart. But Pangaea remains, albeit in a bottle. With a slew of brews paying tribute to the mythic and monstrous (Lilja’s Sasquatch Stout, Lilja’s Hell Hound Nut Brown, Lilja’s Hop Nest Monster IPA), it is only right that the company chose to name itself after the mysterious and magnificent origins of Earth as we know it.

(T.F.)

 

Pearl Street Brewery

pearlstreetbrewery.com

Most breweries gloat about their exotic imported hops or the organic, local barley that demonstrates their environmental conscientiousness. Wisconsin’s own Pearl Street Brewery engages in no such peacocking. Instead, their brewmaster declares that the company’s wit and integrity are their most distinctive ingredients. I can’t vouch for the effect of wit on one’s taste receptors, but PSB’s bottles bear its mark. After one sip of their That’s What I’m Talkin’ ’Bout Rolled Oat Stout, it will indeed be what you are talkin’ ’bout. (T.F.)

 

Potosi Brewing Company

potosibrewery.com

It is not uncommon for European breweries to have roots stretching back 500, 600, even upwards of 1,000 years. Our young country came of drinking age only a few hundred years back. Despite our relative youth, the Potosi Brewing Company makes a strong case for disburdening ourselves of our little-sibling-like inferiority complex. Be convinced by Potosi’s National Brewery Museum, which celebrates America’s rich tradition of beer craft. PBC is also a practitioner of the social side of suds—one of Wisconsin’s oldest, in fact—and encourages visitors to hoist a pint in its lovely beer garden. (T.F.)

 

St. Francis Brewery

stfrancisbrewery.com

The popular gastropub produces five of its own beers, focusing on ales. Most popular is the KK Weiss, served in the proper glass. The restaurant’s menu has all the appetizers necessary for beer drinkers, from pretzels to chicken wings and nachos. Sandwiches include burgers, pulled pork and a Reuben. Among the entrées are chicken potpie, baby back ribs and a noteworthy beer steak. (J.B.)

 

Sand Creek Brewery Co.

sandcreekbrewing.com

Sand Creek’s brewmaster must be some kind of alchemist. He has perfected the dark art of turning golden hops and honey into golden medals at the World Beer Cup. Not once. Not twice. But thrice. The Oscar’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Pioneer Black River Red and Pioneer Oderbolz Bock enjoy the imprimatur of international beer authorities. They also hold the distinction of arguably the most interesting and tragedy-laden history of a Wisconsin brewery. See their website for the grim details. (T.F.)

 

Sapporo

sapporobeer.com

Sapporo embodies and embottles the tenet of quality over quantity. Though they are the oldest brewery in Japan, they have devoted their experience to perfecting only three varieties of beer (Sapporo Premium, Premium Light and Reserve). No surprise, then, that they have a solicitous sense of concern for how their beers are enjoyed. Those wanting to unleash the full potential of the beer will find on their website recipes that call for or pair well with Sapporo. (T.F.)

 

Sprecher Brewery

sprecherbrewery.com

It’s the original and most personal of contemporary Milwaukee microbreweries, founded in 1985 and still overseen with impeccable care and taste by Randy Sprecher. The original brews—Special Amber, Black Bavarian, Hefe Weiss, Mai Bock and Oktoberfest—are so trustworthy, so dependably drinkable there’s nothing to say but thanks. Sprecher revitalized Milwaukee’s brewing history and made far better beer than the giants. Characteristically forward-looking, the brewery now offers gluten-free beers based on African models, as well as delicious premium reserves and limited releases. I also have to give a shout out for the root beer, soft and hard. (J.S.)

 

Stevens Point Brewery

pointbeer.com

The beer we drink says something about us. Point beer drinkers seem modest, knowledgeable, decent, not too pushy, people you can trust, likeable people, even lovers, why not? Young at heart, too, and proudly from Wisconsin. Come to think of it, I’m describing my brother, who graduated from UW-Stevens Point. He drinks Point beer. What has made the Stevens Point Brewery, founded in 1857, the country’s fifth oldest continuously operating brewery? The answer is the solid flagship Point Special Lager. There are also eight additional year-round brews, four seasonal and six limited editions. (J.S.)

 

Sweet Mullets

sweetmulletsbrewing.com

Sweet Mullets is more than just a beer. It is also Oconomowoc’s first and only brewpub—that is, a pub in which beer is brewed. Thankfully, they have used their control over what the clientele eats and drinks for good instead of evil. That is to say, the beer and food offerings reciprocally influence one another. Sweet Mullet’s Jorge Jalapeno Ale partners well with the gourmet tacos, and supposedly the 501 Red Ale and the meatloaf make fine bedfellows, or bellyfellows as the case may be. (T.F.)

 

Tallgrass Brewing Co.

tallgrassbeer.com

Tallgrass beer gives the lie to the prejudice that bottles are better beer vessels than cans. Their Canifesto confirms the company’s fondness for puns and the environment. Not only do cans seal flavor in and sunlight out better than bottles, they are also far superior in recyclability. Besides, the can is a better canvas for beer art than the middling bottle label. Concoctions such as Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat, Wild Plum Farmhouse Ale and Velvet Rooster are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate. (T.F.)

 

Titletown Brewing

titletownbrewing.com

The Titletown Brewing Company is assuredly the only brewery/restaurant to have been visited by Buddy Holly and Nat King Cole, as well as William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. OK, so technically they didn’t visit TBC—only the old train depot in which the company now makes its home—but it is impressive nonetheless. This Green Bay establishment hosts fortnightly trivia, in addition to an impressive variety of beers and Sno-Cap old-fashioned root beer. (T.F.)

 

Vintage Brewing Co.

vintagebrewingcompany.com

The Vintage Brewing Co. brings the past and future to bear on the present. The Madison brewpub specializes in what they characterize as “elevated Americana.” Think greasy spoon meets silver spoon. Enjoy some elevated beers such as a golden ale infused with local staghorn sumac flowers (Sumac Shandy), or their award-winning oatmeal stout (Scaredy Cat) and Irish red ale (McLovin). Lubricated thusly, perhaps you’ll have the nerve some Wednesday night to sit in with the Madison Blues Co-op for the weekly blues jam. (T.F.)