As spring winds down and summer approaches, we Wisconsonians can look forward to hot, humid days plagued by mosquitoes. But fret not! The brewers of Wisconsin shall provide liquid refreshment to quench your thirst and some social lubrication for those countless summer parties. To wit:
I'll start things off with Capital's Fest Beer
. It is available now as I spied it at Star Liquor on Willy Street last weekend and will be through July. A lot of people I know turn to IPAs and pale ales for the warmer months. I often do so myself but Fest is a nice departure from this routine with its malty goodness.
Furthermore released its second seasonal this spring - Fatty Boombalatty
, which is a Belgian-style ale. I've had it a few times now and I found it eminently drinkable. It has a nice estery aroma and the flavor is much lighter than a true Belgian but there's this great wheat-yeast combo going for it.
Down in New Glarus, brewmaster Dan Carey is giving us a couple fine seasonal brews that buck the IPA trend.
First off, Totally Naked
, a lager, is returning. It is a light, crisp beer that is, to my palate, unremarkable. A thirst quencher for those hazy days of summer, to be sure, but I think it's aimed more at folks who turn to Miller or Bud when given the chance. The second beer is much more exciting - Hometown Blonde
. I hope that this pilsner becomes a regular seasonal because I'd love to drink it again next year and the year after that and the year after that…Shit, this should become a year-round brew. It pours a deep amber. Tasting starts with a nice burst of yeast flavor and then a small army of hops comes rushing in. This is the beer I've been waiting for after Dan decommissioned Edel Pils. It's nice to see something that a bit on the back-to-basics side with microbrewers trying to outdo each other in making the bitterest IPA or aging everything in a bourbon barrel these days.
The folks at the Viking Brewing Co.
currently offers their Lime Twist, a wheat beer with lime. I don't think I've ever had it. Since June begins tomorrow, I'll mention that it will see the coming of Queen Victoria's Secret, an IPA. I still have designs on visiting the brewery…
There is a lot of activity over at Tyranena. Their summer seasonal, Fargo Brothers Hefeweizen
, is now available. In addition, the next installment of brewer Rob Larson's Brewers Gone Wild! series is released today – Stickin' It to the Man! Extra IPA. Check your store shelves. Also note that Larson brewed his first ever "interpretation of a Belgian-style Wit" just a couple days ago. He notes that he added his own "twist" to the style and that it should be ready in a couple weeks. Stay tuned.
The big news from Leinenkugel
came this spring when they began distributing a new brew called Big Eddy Imperial IPA. Leinenkugel is basically a middle-of-the-road brewery. They generally brew beer that is much better than the flavored water made by its parent company but not really premium quality microbrew either. But the word on the street is that this stuff is the real deal and not some attempt to put a microbrew face to a semi-macrobrew. Seriously, I've read some rave reviews. It is available only on tap at a limited number of establishments. If you're in Madison, check at the following locations:
The Echo Tap
Great Dane (Hilldale Mall location)
The Ivory Room
Please let me know of any sightings outside of this clutch of taverns. Big Eddy is supposedly the first of a series of such limited edition beers with the next rumored to be an Imperial stout.
It's been too long since I've stepped foot in the Ale Asylum
, especially considering I live quite close to it. Their summer seasonals are Hatha-Weizen, a German wheat beer and Tripel Nova, a Belgian tripel. Hopefully they'll start bottling more of their beers soon. My friend Dogger is currently addicted to Ambergeddon and, with his fickle tastes, he'll need more variety by the time the solstice rolls around.
Over in Milwaukee at Lakefront Brewery
, May's beer of the month is Lakefront Cherry Lager. Starting tomorrow, get your lips around one of their White Beers, a Belgian Wit.
Other beer notes around town:
Check out the newly revamped website
for the Great Dane. The beer menu for each location (excepting the one out at the airport) is now posted separately.
Also check out the beer menu
for J.T. Whitney's brewpub. I've never had anything there that's gotten me super-mega-maxi excited but I do appreciate that they seem to always have a Rauchbier on tap.
Has anyone been to the Granite City
out by West Towne? With all the good local brew, it's been at the bottom of my to-try list for months now.
The Hinterland Brewery and Restaurant
is going to open a brewpub in Milwaukee at 222 E. Erie St. It's slated to open by August.
Next up for me is a trek to Lake Mills for the 5th Annual Patricia's Crawfish Boil at the Tyranena Brewery on 14 June. I've gotta find something to cook and pass around that includes some of their beer.
A fellow Madisonian recently gave some summer microbrew recommendations
and so will I.
New Glarus Hometown Blonde – I raved about it above and will again. This stuff is fantastic! No, it's not made by virgins with 40 kinds of hops found only in a small region of Luxembourg and water from Antarctic glaciers and aged in bourbon barrels made of wood from the Tree of Knowledge. Just a solid, great tasting beer.
Tyranena's Bitter Woman IPA – with the strong citrus flavors of the hop mix, this is the champagne of IPAs. 'Nuff said.
Founder's Red's Rye
- I bought a bottle of this stuff last year at Steve's on University. A strong, yet somehow mellow hoppiness is complemented by a slight peppery taste.
Chicago may be populated with FIBs and Goose Island may have had a large chunk of its stock bought by Anheuser-Busch, but their Summertime and 312 Urban Wheat
beers are both excellent. The former is a kölsch while the latter is, obviously, a wheat beer.
Mbege Ale and Shakapro Ale from Sprecher
. I've had the latter and it was really good. I am not sure about the availability of these beers right now so keep your eyes peeled.
Lastly for beer, I want to try Samuel Adams' Summer Ale. It is made with Grains of Paradise, a spice often used in Medieval cooking.
Moving away from beer, another great summer drink is any of the melomels (mead made with fruit) from White Winter Winery
. I can personally vouch for their high tastiness quotients.
Lastly, there's the summer staple, the gin and tonic