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barrels

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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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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