Tag Archives | beer


Roll Out the Barrel

Wisconsin’s Aging Our Beers

Story and Photography by Nick Rasmussen

One of the most inspiring and enigmatic characteristics of beer is its inherent ability to evolve, both during and well beyond fermentation. With time, certain flavors erode and others begin to assert themselves as the beautiful liquid matures. But few things can have a more profound impact on a beer than barrel aging. The concept is rather basic. Add beer to a wooden barrel, let it sit for a period of time, blend and package. But as I’ve come to learn from some of Wisconsin’s finest brewers, barrel aging is a fickle art consisting of trial, error, understanding, creativity, patience and vision. Regardless of whether the barrels are being used primarily for bacterial fermentation or to directly impart flavors from the wood, barrel aging is a process that positions the ingenuity of humans versus the non-negotiable forces of nature.

Hinterland Brewery in Green Bay started playing with barrel aging in 1999. And like any other new venture, building a barrel-aging program posed some immediate growing pains, such as unique spatial requirements, finding and transporting barrels, and implementing consistency throughout processes. “Our biggest initial challenge was getting the barrels to the … Read More

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Great Minds Think (and Drink) Alike

A Culinary-Inspired Brewing Operation

Story by Brett Kell
Photography by Joe Laedtke

Brew City is living up to its name once again. With 2016 ushering in nearly a dozen new breweries, the glory days of countless locally made beers close at hand are no longer a distant memory.

In addition to stalwarts Sprecher, Lakefront and Milwaukee Brewing Co., recently established breweries are becoming favorites in their neighborhoods and beyond: Brenner Brewing, Urban Harvest and soon-to-open Madison transplant MobCraft in Walker’s Point; Company Brewing and Black Husky in Riverwest; Big Head in Wauwatosa; Enlightened Brewing in Bay View, Good City on the East Side, Westallion in West Allis, Bavarian Bierhaus in Glendale and Biloba in Brookfield. Two more, Third Space and City Lights, will open soon in the Menomonee Valley. And Vennture Brew Co. is gearing up for Tosa.

Even famed Milwaukee cornerstone Pabst will begin brewing again, in a church on its sprawling former grounds just north of downtown. This year has also included formation of the Milwaukee Craft Brewery League, to which many of the aforementioned entities belong.

Notable among these new kids on the block is Like Minds Brewing Company, a partnership between serious beer geek John … Read More

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6 Wisconsin Backyard Beers

This Summer, Stick Close to Home

By Nick Rasmussen

Summer beer advertisements aim to make us as hot as the season (succulent slices of citrus fruits, labels adorned with scantily-clad women and name-dropping unimaginable bliss are just some of the all-too familiar examples). Take a moment to peel back the layers of obvious hyperbole—with eyes uncovered, begin to imagine that summer beers aren’t necessarily part of a category or single style. Rather, they are a collection of seasonal interpretations.

The real truth is: a summer beer is whatever you want it to be, not always the ones you find stacked at the end cap of your local liquor store. The following are some Wisconsin-brewed beers that shed the preconceived notions of what a summer beer should be and underscore what a Wisconsin summer beer can be.

Ale Asylum Bedlam IPA

Most Wisconsinites are at least vaguely familiar with the ubiquitous brand of Ale Asylum. Based in Madison, this brewery churns out some of the most charismatic and compelling beers in the state. While the canning of Hopalicious, their dynamic pale ale, has highlighted the seasonal marketability of Ale Asylum, it’s their Bedlam IPA that I find to truly be a … Read More

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In No Particular Order

A Round of Craft Beer Bars

List by Nick Rasmussen
Photography by Adam Horwitz

Beer bar. The term conjures images of snobbery, exclusivity and niche beer styles that are 11 syllables in length. Sure, there are places where accessibility and approachability are distant concepts. But the best beer bars are institutions that pour equal parts thoughtfulness and creativity into every glass. As soon as you hit the barstool, you feel the care and pride. And when you get your pint, tulip or mug, you wash down along with your beer a palpable sense of community. The list below is just a handful of establishments in the area serving up a great craft beer experience. Bottom’s up.

Bernie’s Tap Room

There’s something inherently casual and comfortable about the space that sits at the corners of Main and Clinton Streets in Waukesha. Bernie’s Tap Room perfectly combines Wisconsin colloquialness and Milwaukee urbanism. Throughout the open concept space, in the exposed brick, you find old and new, European and American, traditionalism and progressiveness.

The one consistent theme at Bernie’s is beer. 26 tap handles of good beer. Meticulously selected, aged if needed, seasonally allocated, beer. Owner and bar manager John Bernhardt and … Read More

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Prosit! Dinner in the Beer Garden

New Book of Lore, Recipes and More

Story by Rebecca Ratterman

“On a warm summer evening, I love to watch light filter through the leaves of the dogwood and viburnum, with a beer in hand, salad on the table, listening to the conversation of friends as I refill their glasses. ‘Why is it,’ I wonder, ‘that food and beer taste so much better together when we’re in the beer garden?’” – Lucy Saunders

There is something special about the combination of summer sunshine, friends, good food and fresh beer. If you’re looking for a potential guide for bringing these four things into your life, beer guru Lucy Saunders has you covered. Her newest cookbook, Dinner in the Beer Garden, is for people who enjoy carrots and kale, but also love beer, cheese and chocolate.

Profiles of beer gardens and tips on pairing beer with fruits and vegetables appear in between recipe chapters, with lots of stories and tips on pairing. Recipes were contributed by chefs such as AJ Hurst from Vintage Brewing Co., chefs from the Kohler Festival of Beer, as well as home cooks like Lucy.

The Milwaukee-based author has written three other beer-centric cookbooks and expanded into … Read More

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Valentine Coffee

Valentine Coffee Roasters: Now Pouring Pints

Story by Raeghn Draper
Photography by Jen Ede

Beyond roasting and pouring-over a great cup of coffee on Milwaukee’s west side, Valentine Coffee Roasters, in collaboration with Steven’s Point Brewery, can now add brewing to their list of achievements. “Balanced,” “drinkable,” and “approachable” are just some of the words used to describe the new beer made with Valentine coffee beans.

The combination integrates both beer and coffee’s aroma and flavor into the beverage without one overpowering the other. This could be attributed to the process; coffee isn’t just a flavor added to this beer as an afterthought. Rather, the beans are added in two phases of the beer’s brewing, imparting an honest and expressive coffee character.

“For a man in Wisconsin to have your name on a beer without having to open a brewery, that’s pretty cool.”

The collaboration has been underway for over a year and a half, prompting many on-location tastings at Steven’s Point Brewery and Valentine in Milwaukee. Neither one of the companies could have anticipated the overwhelming interest and desire from the community. The beverage hit the shelves in late September and was gone nearly as quickly. It was officially released a short while … Read More

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Growing Grain Gold for Beer

Local brewers reviving Wisconsin hops, barley traditions

Story by Erika Janik
Photography by Rob Gustafson

Long before Wisconsin became America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin brewed beer. The state had barley, wheat, ice, and water. It had hops. And most important of all, a beer-thirsty people called Wisconsin home.

So thirsty that in 1839, German settlers in Milwaukee, desperate for a taste of home, mixed whiskey and vinegar with a little limestone to create a head that they called “Essig whiskey heimer” (something like homemade vinegar whiskey or vinegar whiskey of home). The opening of the city’s first brewery – by a Welshman, not a German, alas – the next year hopefully put an end to that frightening blend.

Wisconsin is today virtually synonymous with the consumption of beer. The state’s abundance of raw materials (not to mention an abundance of marketing) made the state and especially Milwaukee famous for beer. Yet this once hyper-local product – nearly every Wisconsin town had a brewery at one time, and barley and hops were major state industries – became anything but, as commercial grain and hop production shifted west in the early 20th century. While the breweries remained, the ingredients scattered.

But that’s changing now. … Read More

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Brewing as a Family and Community Business

Biloba Brewing Co. on tap in Brookfield

Story by Jenna Kashou
Photography by Rob Gustafson

There’s an old saying: “Give the people what they want.” Milwaukee and its surrounding neighborhoods want beer, and lots of it—an unquenchable thirst that has lasted ages and branded our city. But a recent surge in demand for microbrews has spurred several local entrepreneurs to launch small-scale breweries, pouring out fresh suds made with local ingredients.

Biloba Brewing Company in Brookfield, set to open this spring, has been a long-time dream for a pair of passionate brewers. Husband-wife team Gordon and Jean Lane owns the 2,000 square-foot tasting room and microbrewery, and their children, Kathryn (31), Kevin (29) and Kristen (24) also pitch in. Kathryn and Kristen will work in the tasting room and handle social media and marketing, while Kristen is learning how to brew. Kevin, a former pilot plant brewer for MillerCoors, also helps with production part time. Jean calls herself the ideas person and will focus on tastings, tours and more.

Gordon and Jean have lived in Brookfield for 24 years, and both previously lived nearby for 20-plus years. Aside from having a short commute to work, they wanted to offer the … Read More

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