Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival

This past Saturday, while Lo was hanging out with the bears in northern Wisconsin, I spent the afternoon drinking beer at the Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival in Glendale, WI. The Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival is the premiere all Wisconsin craft beer and tasting festival, featuring selections from 30 breweries throughout the state. Local chefs created unique tasting portion designed to complement more than 100 unique beers from the state’s finest craft breweries.

One of the cool things about this festival is that most of the breweries were represented by the actual beer master. So it was a great opportunity to get to chat with them and hear about their craft and what they had in the works.

One of the more well known Wisconsin breweries is Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery. They were sampling my favorite brew, Fixed Gear, and my second favorite, Bridge Burner. Russ Klisch, brewmaster and owner of Lakefront, was there and mentioned to me that the Fixed Gear will soon be available in 6-packs which made me very happy. You see, although I don't mind the 22 oz. bomber bottle trend, I seem to be able to pace myself better if drinking out of the 12 oz. bottles. And truthfully, a 6-pack is easier to carry than 3 bomber bottles... I know... I know. Me and my first world problems, right?

There were a few breweries that brought some interesting creations along with them. The Delafield Brewhaus brought a Russian Imperial Stout that had been aged in whiskey barrels for 18 months. Even better, they were pouring the brew straight out of the whiskey barrel. Nice touch.

Vintage Brewing Company in Madison presented a lovely experimental brew -- a Saison style beer flavored with the habiscus flowers. Smooth, refreshing and pink it was a experiment well worth tasting.

There was also a newcomer to the festival. Starting his brew pub only 9 months ago, Woodman Brewery had a large selection of beers to choose from. I sampled the Jamarillo, a jalapeno blond ale, and was quite pleased with the result. It wasn't spicy, but it presented a nice strong green jalapeno essence. I could see drinking this beer with street tacos or other casual Mexican food. Their beer is only currently available at the brew pub and in some of the Woodman area bars, so if you happen to drive through the Southwest corner of the state, make sure to check them out.

I was able to taste a good variety of IPAs and other hoppy beverages. Angry Minnow (Hayward) brought a Tre Svends IPA that was quite delicious. The Hoppy Face from Fox River Brewing Company (Oshkosh), the Hop Farm from The Grumpy Troll (Mt. Horeb) and the One Hop Wonder from Titletown Brewing Company (Green Bay) were some of my favorites.

Finally, a few last shout outs go to South Shore Brewery (Ashland) for a tasty Honey Double Maibock, Potosi Brewing Company (Potosi) for a refreshing Steamboat Shandy Golden Ale that is infused with lemons -- perfect for a hot sunny day, and to Hinterland Brewery (Green Bay) for bringing their Door County Cherry Wheat.

I was a bit sad that I didn't make it to the Bull Falls Brewery (Wausau) tent in time to taste what they were offering. They ran out of beer by 3:30 (event went until 5pm) and they even brought more than they did last year. Glad that they were a hot spot, sad I missed out on it. Next year, they will be my first stop.

And for you cheeseheads out there -- I found out from Sartori Cheese that they are coming out with a Mediterranean Fontina and an Extra-Aged Fontina. Both should be available wherever Sartori Cheese is sold by the end of June. And if you haven't tried any of the BellaVitano line, you really need to do yourself the favor of getting some. I highly recommend the Raspberry BellaVitano, which has been soaked in New Glarus Raspberry Tart Ale. It's the perfect summer cheese for your next gathering.


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Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at DEVOUR Milwaukee, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.


  1. That review made me very thirsty. I haven't been to a beer tasting in a while. Heading to the Dells on Tap in October though and I cannot wait.

  2. We were totally there too. Loved every minute of it! http://theparklandproject.blogspot.com/2011/06/beer-lovers-festival-why-yes.html

  3. Wow, jealous! We are planning on doing a brewery road trip of WI this summer to taste all the amazing beers.

  4. So, boozing it up when the wife was away?! I should mark one if these on my calendar sometime, even though I feel like I can never keep up. I enjoy reading about it just as much, however!


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