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Now go have a beer!












Great Lakes: Wisconsin

June/July 2000 issue (page 3)


Dan Carey of New Glarus Brewing Company was busy at the Craft Brewers Conference as a panelist at a number of the technical sessions, and his great love for the technical side of brewing was evident. But even those who attended other seminar tracks at the conference, however, had a tangible reminder of Carey's place in the Wisconsin brewing scene in the form of a bottle of the commemorative beer, New Glarus Symposium Eisbock, which was included in every registrant's bag of conference materials. Those who wanted to save the bottles for a little aging still got to try it, though, because it was on tap at the Milwaukee Ale House. Those of us lucky enough to live in Wisconsin, of course, could get more than just one bottle. A limited number of cases of the beer were also available in stores in Madison, but are disappearing fairly quickly. Although the Eisbock was available to retailers for the same price as all the standard New Glarus beers, some package stores put a higher price on it to ration the scarce supply. Still, resourceful beer enthusiasts were able to find plenty of places where it was available at the normal price.

When New Glarus was invited to brew the commemorative beer, they knew that the symposium beer was traditionally a higher gravity style. The eisbock was a triple decoction, was frozen and concentrated as appropriate for the style, finished at 7.5% alcohol, and was lagered for three months. Even young, it's a beefy but very smooth beer that's likely to improve even more with some aging.

New Glarus Belgian Red brand Wisconsin cherry ale (gotta be careful about the use of that Belgian name) was featured in a post-banquet tasting of GABF multiple medal winners, and that beer has picked up yet another international award. But it was the Raspberry Tart that attracted the judges' attention for the World Beer Cup. The Careys will learn in June whether the beer was selected for gold, silver, or bronze.

New Glarus Norski Honey maibock has been the current seasonal, and will be followed by the Solstice weiss bier.

The hops are just starting to climb above the beer garden (or is that the "dining deck"?) at Angelic Brewing Company. Spring weather can change quickly in Madison, from 80s one week to frost the next, and two of the plants were damaged. But by summer, those plants should provide a nice canopy for anyone outside enjoying a Believer's Bitter or a hefeweizen. Or how about a tripel? Dean Coffey has just brewed another batch of the tripel to serve to patrons at the Great Taste of the Midwestsm and at the pub this summer. Could it have something to do with Angelic's double play combination at the World Beer Cup judging? We'll find out in June whether the judges awarded gold, silver, or bronze to Angelic's Trident Tripel and Sinner's Stout. Indeed, along with Delafield, Wisconsin craft brewers took two of the three medals for tripel. Where are those Belgian brewers?

Assistant brewmaster "$1.50 Rick" Baumgartner has left Angelic to move to Colorado, and Shane Welch is now the new assistant. Local homebrewers may recognise Welch because he worked at the Wine and Hop Shop in Madison. All the best to Rick in his new home, and welcome to Shane.

Capital Brewery's Kirby Nelson is doing what every craft brewer ought to be doing. (Just don't call Kirby a "craft" or "micro" brewer; he wants simply to be known as a BREWER!) He's offering "beer school" to retailers. The brewery recently offered guided tastings in Madison and Milwaukee to accompany the kickoff for Capital 1900, the bottled version of the pre-prohibition lager Nelson developed based on brewing logs from that era. The new beer was supported by an ad campaign featuring Nelson's handsome face next to the bottle, exclaiming, "Limes are for cocktails, dummy!" (Perhaps someday Great Lakes readers will get to see that ad in this publication.) The beer school featured a sit-down tasting of eight different Capital beers as Nelson described the styles, adding humourous historical notes to keep things lively. The promo also introduced the brewery's Capital Weizen Doppelbock, a weizenbock already on tap at select locations and soon to be introduced in bottles. Look for the purple label, which Kirby notes is done out of respect for Aventinus.

One of my favourite Capital beers for all-around drinkability, Capital Maibock, must have also impressed the World Beer Cup judges for that category, because it was the beer for which Capital will receive an award in June.

Brewers are always working to keep their breweries sanitary. But Rich Becker is having a hard time getting lactobacillus to grow at J.T. Whitney's and, therefore, hasn't yet brewed the Berliner weiss he hoped to have on tap this spring. But, as always, there's plenty more to drink at the west Madison brewpub. The newest beer is a Kolsch. Rich added an extra pound of finish hops to the most recent batch of his Columbus-rich American pale ale. By the time you read this, he'll have a crystal weizen on tap, to make a total of four wheat beers on tap (Heartland Weiss, Willy Street Weizenbock, and raspberry weiss are the other three. Had the dunkelweizen not just run dry, there would be five wheat beers.) Becker was disappointed that his weizenbock did not win an award at the World Beer Cup, but his Heartland Weiss was featured at the banquet. One World Beer Cup judge who will not be identified here, commented that a weizen as good as Becker's would have had a good chance of winning a medal if it had been entered in the competition.

By late July, look for a new version of the pils. Rich is still looking for just the right lager yeast and will try a different strain for this batch. Cask equipment just arrived, and the pub plans to start Firkin Mondays.

Great Dane has this year's version of its Uber APA on tap, and it's a completely different beer this year, with Maris Otter barley malts from Beeston, giving it a fuller body and mouthfeel than last year's more "American" version. The bittering hop is Magnum, with Amarillo for finishing. Another keg of well-aged award-winning Old Scratch Barleywine is on tap. The brown ale is back, and look for a return of the cherry ale for early summer. There are also a few new offerings on the non-beer menu worth checking out.

Great Dane's German Pilsener was one of the four beers featured at the conference banquet.

If you've had the Cask ESB at the Great Dane, you may not have found it to meet your expectations for quality for a beer at Madison's first brewpub; brewmaster Rob LoBreglio wasn't pleased with it either. But don't let a bad first impression stop you from trying it again. The second batch is spot on!

The newest beer is a nitropour Irish Ale, which was put on in time for University of Wisconsin graduation guests coming into town. It's a lighter-bodied ale on the milder side with the creaminess you'd expect for a nitropour.

It might not have been the Great American Beer Festival or the World Beer Cup, but the smile on Mount Horeb brewmaster Mark Duchow's face was just as wide as that of any GABF or WBC medal recipient when the winner of WORT's beer tasting was announced. WORT/89.9FM is Madison's community radio station (great call letters, eh?) and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As part of the year-long celebration, the station hosted a beer tasting with a people's choice balloting to select the station's official 25th anniversary "WORT-Brau" from among the 25 (of course) beers featured. Mount Horeb's winning entry was its seasonal Rye Bock. The grain bill for this twist on a maibock included 20% rye malt. The commemorative WORT-Brau tap handle, styled after a retro-looking radio microphone, will be pulled numerous times at various station-sponsored music festivals and other events during the year and is expected to bring welcome attention to the brewpub, which is within a half-hour southwest of Madison. The pub will also be showing off its beers to an appreciative crowd for the Madison Bike to Work Week Final Fiesta at the end of May. J.T. Whitney's, Great Dane, New Glarus, and Capital breweries are also sponsors of the annual promotion of bicycle commuting. Thanks to all the participating breweries for their support of environmentally-responsible alternatives to the destruction caused by excessive motor vehicle use.

Mount Horeb's other special brew these days is their Norwegian Wood India Pale Ale Duchow brewed along with Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild member Ted Gisske. Duchow and Gisske originally aimed for 75 IBUs, but when brew day came they decided to go all out. They may not have quite made the century mark, but they think they hit at least 96 IBUs. That'll be plenty for those Mount Horeb trolls. And if that's a bit too hoppy for some, there's always the merely in-your-face hop aroma and flavour of the regular Liberty Pole American Pale Ale.

Brewery Creek brewery, restaurant, and B&B in Mineral Point is back on its full regular season hours. The pub opens daily (closed Mondays) at 11:30am and closes at 8pm, except that it stays open a half-hour later on Fridays and Saturdays and closes at 4pm Sundays. Brewmaster/Innkeeper Jeff Donaghue notes his four current beers are Dunkel Dopple Weizen Bock, Schwartzbier, Biere Blonde, and Ebony Porter. Look for a wheat beer for the summer. Jeff may try to reproduce a homebrewed weiss with lemon grass that he did years ago "if only I could remember how [he] did it." He's still thinking of something big to brew for the Great Taste of the Midwestsm, but those who know Jeff know to count on something interesting.

Speaking of the 14th annual Great Taste, tickets are now on sale for North America's second longest-running craft brewers' festival; you'll get a boot out of it! Tickets are $20 this year and can be ordered from the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild by sending your check (payable to MHTG) and SASE (required) to PO Box 1365, Madison, Wisconsin 53701-1365. Allow 3-4 weeks for delivery.

Tom Porter at Lake Louie Brewing Company hosted the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild last month at his spacious Arena brewhouse. Lake Louie beers are available at eight accounts in Spring Green and Arena and Tom's working hard to keep up with demand. When his award-winning Scotch ale homebrew recipe came out a little bigger when scaled up to a commercial batch, he decided to rename it Winter Warmer, but some of his appreciative local customers, many of whom were accustomed to macrolagers had another name for it. These new converts to beer with body and flavour dubbed it "Liquid Reefer." Porter has a couple brews coming up for the season, including a batch of IPA. Just look for the fish on the tap handle.

Pete Peterson at EndeHouse has Lake Louie Scotch Ale as one of his guest taps, along with Peterson's own porter, stout, American pale ale, and India pale ale. Look for more beers at the Reedsburg brewery and restaurant as the busy summer season approaches.

Bellows Brewing Company is featuring all its regular beers at the Whistle Stop Tavern in Waunakee: Pretty Girl Pilsener, Railroad Red Ale, Danny's Double Dark Stout, WaunaPale Ale, and Chestnut Brown Ale. Look for a cherry ale late in the spring. Tyranena Brewing Company's four year-around beers are now readily available in 12 ounce bottles, giving you a take-home choice other than a growler from the taproom. Gray Brewing Company has redesigned its packaging, but the same great beers remain inside the bottles.

Keep reading for more news!



Updated 22 May 2000
Bob "Now go have a beer" Paolino