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Great Lakes: Wisconsin

June/July 2000 issue (page 4)

NORTHERN, FOX VALLEY/NORTHEASTERN, AND CENTRAL WISCONSIN


Spring did not get off to a good start for South Shore Brewery. Brewmasters was not the only one to have a kitchen mishap go out of control. Early on April 1 a fire in a deep fryer spread through much of the historic Soo Line depot that houses the brewery and its two restaurants, as well as other businesses housed in the building. News of the fire spread quickly through the Northeast Wisconsin Beer Festival that day in Appleton, and many of us hoped the story was someone's idea of an April Fool's joke about Bo Bélanger's absence from the Appleton Brewing Company-hosted event. Alas, it was no joke, and the brewery and pub's employees were put out of work. The owners plan to rebuild and Bélanger recently reported that they were close to a deal on a building to be able to move the brewery part of the operation. Bo commented that it's been gratifying to see how many people in the Ashland community have shown their concern and support for the brewery-restaurant and the people who worked there.

But the last couple months have also brought some good news. White Winter Winery of Iron River won a World Beer Cup award for its Brackett, a mead made with malted barley and hops, which is contract-brewed for White Winter by South Shore.

Central Waters in Junction City, home of "microbrew for the microfew," will now be known by more than only the microfew after winning a World Beer Cup award for its Kosmyk Charlie's Y2K Catastrophe Ale barleywine.

May marked Green Bay Brewing Company's first year in its current location in Green Bay (across from Titletown Brewing Company, which did not report for this issue), having moved from a former cheese factory down the road in Denmark. Dining offerings have expanded from the cheeses and appetisers offered when the brewery first moved. GBBC's newest Hinterland beer is Cask Mild, an English style ale aged in oak casks for a pleasant oak character that is evident but does not dominate. Also, look for the return of the weizen for the summer.

Talk about a time to wish you had a camera ready. On the Brew Expo trade show floor at the Craft Brewers Conference, all four present and former Titletown Brewing Company brewmasters were spotted in the same place. Stop in at Titletown after a visit to Green Bay Brewing Company to see what's on tap.

Egan Brewing Company hosted the 6th Annual Green Bay Rackers Titletown Open Homebrew Competition, and the winner gets to brew a batch of it to be served at the pub. Can't tell you the winner because the May 13 competition came after the column deadline. But until that one's brewed, you'll have plenty to choose from, because Egan is second only to Appleton Brewing Company (which did not report for this issue) for selection of house beers in the Fox Valley/Green Bay area. Coming in June and July are Grandma Hilda's Hefeweizen and Thyme of the Saison Belgian-style ale.

Bill Winsand has completed another expansion at Slab City Brewing Company. It's now eight barrels, up from "four barrels and a corny." Slab City Esker Alt was one of the four beers served at the Craft Brewers Conference banquet.

Fox River Brewing Company's Brothers' Belgian Abbey Ale is going strong at both locations. When that runs out, look for Tie-Dyed Rye, a malt-emphasised beer yet with a dryness produced by the rye, according to brewmaster Steve Lonsway. This year the rye ale was fermented with the brewery's Belgian ale yeast rather than its usual house ale strain. After the Belgian rye ale is gone, look for a brand new Strawberry Blond for the middle of the summer. It will probably be part of the curriculum for the July 25 "Beers of Summer" Beer School at the Oshkosh location. For those who want something light-bodied without the fruit, Lonsway has replaced the Fox River Golden Ale with Fox Light, a lower alcohol and lower calorie lager.

In the firkins, FRBC will offer a cask-conditioned Scottish ale for one weekend only at each location. Call the pubs for release dates. Once again this year, Fox Cities Stadium will feature FRBC's Buzzin' Honey Ale and Fox Tail Amber Ale ("Rattler Brau") for all Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Midwest League (Class A) baseball games.

The Oshkosh Jaycees' Brews and Blues festival should be coming in early July, but no word from them yet on the date. This is always an enjoyable festival, on the river with music and plenty of good beer from Wisconsin craft brewers, and a chance to visit the Lizard Lounge and Peabody's Ale House afterward. Check the online calendar at http://www.brewingnews.com for updates.

A layout error in the last issue deleted all but the word "Fairgrounds" from an account of visits to breweries and malthouses in Chilton (and Sheboygan and Port Washington), but that one word that did appear referred to the Rowland's annual Wisconsin Microbrewers Fest (at the Calumet County FAIRGROUNDS). The fest occurred between writing and final publication of this issue, but we can safely assume that folks had a great time, as usual. Sorry, Bob and Bonita.


WESTERN AND REGIONALS

Pioneer Brewing Company scored big at the World Beer Cup judging. Both the Black River Red lager and Oscar's Chocolate Oatmeal Stout were selected for awards. Between Pioneer and Angelic, Wisconsin craft brewers took two out of three medals for the oatmeal stout category. Look for Groovy Brew Kolsch in bottles this summer.

Things are starting to warm up in Dallas, Wisconsin, so it's time for Viking Brewing Company to step up production of its ales, and have increased to eight-barrel brew runs to meet increasing demand. First in the tanks was the Big Swede Imperial Stout to replenish depleted supplies of the huge, rich brew. In case you're cutting back on Imperial stouts for the summer, Viking will be ready with Golden Meadow Bavarian Weiss, its first weizen. These will be in the usual 22 ounce bottles, but work continues in the bottling room, and Randy and Ann Lee hope to have some brands in 12 ounce bottles by the end of summer. Randy jokes that accounts in St. Croix and Pierce counties won't have to look at his face quite so often because their sales rep for that area has returned from maternity leave. Look for increased distribution in those counties to meet the demand from River Jumpers, refugees from Minnesota driving across to Hudson in search of beer.

The beer garden is open at Northwoods and you'll have nine beers to choose from as you relax outdoors at the Eau Claire brewpub. Two more of Tim Kelly's ales, White Weasel and Brown Bandit, will be available in bottles if you want to take home a six pack. Wednesdays from 5-7pm feature a humpday hors d'oeuvres buffet for $2 for anyone who wants to make a contribution to charity. Northwoods will have a party with three bands and food in the parking lot on July 29.

Pearl Street Brewery's newest beer is a Kolsch, and you'll find it on tap right next door at Bodega or at a number of other accounts in LaCrosse. Bodega continues its series of monthly beer tastings, and May offered what Jeff called the battle of Minnesota and Wisconsin, with reps from New Glarus and Summit serving 12 of their beers. Stay in touch with the pub to learn what the June and July tastings will be.

Wisconsin's regional breweries made a good showing at the World Beer Cup judging. In the American Premium Lager category, Stevens Point Brewery took an award for its classic Point Special and the new company in an old landmark of a brewery, City Brewing Company of LaCrosse, won with City Lager. Leinenkugel won awards for its Honey Weiss (American Wheat ale or lager without yeast) and the new Creamy Dark (American Dark Lager).

Creamy Dark, you ask? Although Leinenkugel has offered seasonal beers like Winter Lager and Big Butt Doppelbock (the latter since discontinued) for the winter and early spring, it has not sold what the "beer by colour" folks would call a "dark" beer year-around. But John Buhrow and crew in Chippewa Falls have come up with a lager featuring Munich, chocolate, wheat, and four pale malts along with a bit of oatmeal. (13.2P OG, 18 IBUs) The company calls the beer "distinctive, yet very drinkable," but most readers here will find beers drinkable precisely BECAUSE they are distinctive, and Leinenkugel Creamy Dark is a beer you'll want to drink in the upcoming summer months as a pleasing alternative to some of the lighter-bodied beers offered as traditional "summer" styles.


Now go have a beer!

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

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