What a great excuse to go out with friends and have a cold one! Take the opportunity to go out and enjoy a beer from one of Wisconsin’s many awesome breweries… (not a comprehensive list, but all on this list receive the seal of approval from yours truly).
3 Sheeps Brewing - Sheboygan, Wis.
Ale Asylum - Madison, Wis.
Big Bay Brewing Company - Shorewood, Wis.
Bull Falls Brewery - Wausau, Wis.
Capital Brewery - Middleton, Wis.
Central Waters Brewing Co - Amherst, Wis.**
Delafield Brewhaus - Delafield, Wis.**
Gray Brewing Co - Janesville, Wis.
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co - Madison, Fitchburg, Hilldale, Wausau, Wis.
Grumpy Troll Restaurant & Brewery - Mt. Horeb, Wis.
Hinterland Brewing - Green Bay, Milwaukee, Wis.**
Lakefront Brewery - Milwaukee, Wis.**
Lake Louie Brewing - Arena, Wis.
Milwaukee Ale House / Milwaukee Brewing Co - Milwaukee, Wis.**
New Glarus Brewing - New Glarus, Wis.
O’so Brewing Co - Plover, Wis.**
Pabst Brewing (Best Place Tavern) - Milwaukee, Wis.
Pearl Street Brewing - La Crosse, Wis.**
Potosi Brewing Co - Potosi, Wis.
Red Eye Brewing Co - Wausau, Wis.
Sand Creek Brewing Co - Black River Falls, Wis.
Sprecher Brewing Co / Chameleon Brewing Co - Glendale, Wis.
Stevens Point Brewery - Stevens Point, Wis.
Titletown Brewing - Green Bay, Wis.
Tyranena Brewing Co - Lake Mills, Wis.
Water Street Brewery - Milwaukee, Delafield, Wis.
** Personal Favorite of Mine
On May 24th, the East Town Association, the organization behind Jazz in the Park, Bastille Days and many more of our favorite Milwaukee affairs, put on “Craft Beer Connections.” The event was part of East Town Association’s networking series and was hosted by Milwaukee Brewing Company.
Attendees got to mingle and try unlimited half pours of Milwaukee Brewing Company’s tap beers before listening to a panel of Milwaukee craft beer experts. The panel consisted of Jim McCabe, founder and owner of Milwaukee Brewing Company and the Milwaukee Ale House; George Bluvas, Director of Brewery Operations for Water Street Brewery; Jeff Hamilton, President of Sprecher Brewing Company; and Jim Klisch, co-founder and Regional Sales Manager of Lakefront Brewery.
All four panelists shared their passion and stories around craft beer’s humble beginnings in Milwaukee. When Sprecher opened in 1985 and Lakefront opened in 1987, they were truly paving the way for all of the small Wisconsin breweries that were to come after them.
"We started out as imitators… and then we became innovators," said Klisch.
It was Randy Sprecher and particularly the Klisch brothers (it was Jim Klisch’s brother Russ that convinced him to quit his engineering job to go into the brewing business) that inspired and aided McCabe and Bluvas in the start up of Milwaukee Brewing Company and Water Street Brewery respectively.
One would think that being competitors, the atmosphere would be tense with the four largest Milwaukee craft beer producers sitting side by side. On the contrary, there was a feeling of fraternity and camaraderie in the brewery. The world of craft brewing is not craft brewer versus craft brewer- it’s the craft brewing world versus the macro breweries. While the craft beer segment continues to increase as the sale of beer overall declines, craft beer only makes up five percent of all beer sales.
Still, as Hamilton shared a statistic he had recently heard, there are currently 2,051 breweries in the United States. Only 52 of those breweries are macro breweries, and the number of start up breweries increases every day. As craft beer consumers we now have more choices than ever.
However, as a craft brewer this creates new problems. While the craft beer segment continues to grow, liquor stores have limited shelf space. With that in mind, McCabe, Bluvas, Hamilton and Klisch urged the audience to buy local.
After the panel discussion and taking questions from people in the audience, all four panelists stuck around to mingle and discuss everything from home brewing set ups to sports. The one thing all four refused to discuss in the brewery was local politics.
Congratulations to the Wisconsin craft breweries that won medals at this year’s World Beer Cup. ON WISCONSIN!
Fox River Brewing Company (Oshkosh, WI)
- Silver Medal Winner in Barrel Aged Beer: Brandy Barrel Abbey Normal
Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)
- Bronze Medal Winner in Baltic-Style Porter: Dan- My Turn Series
Stevens Point Brewery (Stevens Point, WI)
- Silver Medal Winner in German-Style Schwarzbier: Point 2012 Black Ale
- Bronze Medal Winner in German-Style Kolsh/ Koln-Style Kolsh: Point Three Kings
Capital Brewery Company (Middleton, WI)
- Gold Medal in American-Style Amber Lager: Winter Skal
- Bronze Medal Winner in German-Style Heller Bock/ Maibock: Blonde Doppelbock
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company (Chippewa Falls, WI)
- Gold Medal Winner in American-Style Dark Lager: Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark
Vintage Brewing Company (Madison, WI)
- Silver Medal Winner in German-Style Brown Ale: Rhine Heights
- Bronze Medal Winner in Irish-Style Red Ale: McLovin