Posts Tagged ‘breweries’

Great Lakes Brew Fest Recap

Monday, September 21st, 2009
Two Beer Dudes: Scot and Rich enjoying a beer.

Two Beer Dudes: Scot and Rich enjoying a beer.

Great Lakes Brew Fest was ran without a hitch and ran smoothly as far as I could tell. I was impressed with how well oiled the machine seemed to be.

The park that the Fest was held at is situated right on Lake Michigan, the day was perfect in terms of weather: 70 degrees, sunny, minimum wind.

We arrived about an hour early (2:00pm) and went to the Fest to pre-register. We scored our glasses and decided it was time to get some grub. We ended up getting some Mexican food a little over three blocks away. Back to the Fest. We walked right through the long line and received praise from Rich and Sue for the early sign-up idea. roshe run femmes By the time we made it through the roofed area, the clock struck 3:00pm, the doors flew open, and we were off.

A couple of people Sue stopped to talk with at Great Lakes Brew Fest.

A couple of people Sue stopped to talk with at Great Lakes Brew Fest.

Rich wanted to check out the Michigan tent first. We had some Bell's Brewery, Dark Horse, Founders Brewing, and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. All breweries we are familiar with but ones that we definitely wanted to visit. A good quick start to the day. While at Founders Brewing they had a sign up stating they would be tapping a keg of Curmudgeon that had been oak aged for a year at 4:15pm. Everyone was cool with the idea of coming back for that special tapping.

Now we just decided to go somewhat counter-clockwise through the rest of the Fest. Next was a tent with Colorado and California beers, mainly. We had some Lost Coast Brewery, Fort Collins Brewery, Oskar Blues Grill & Brew, and Avery Brewing. My wife really enjoyed the Tangerine Wheat from Lost Coast Brewery and requested that I find her some locally. It’s good to have a wife that enjoys drinking almost as much as I do. 🙂

Left Hand Brewery found it's why every where.

Left Hand Brewery found it's why every where. (wife liked this one)

Next we headed back to Founders Brewing for our 4:15pm date with Curmudgeon. My full 12 ounce serving of this beer was damn tasty. I finished it within the same amount of time Rich and Sue had their three ounces.

We headed towards the central councourse that had a middle, north, and south ends. We started with middle. First stop: Metropolitan Brewing a local brewery from Chicago, IL. Doug and Tracy are husband and wife that team together to make, currently, three good brews: Krank Shaft, Flywheel, and Dynamo. They have a new release coming out in November named Generator Dopplebock. Tracy follows us on Twitter and is familar with us and we received an invite to check out the brewery. Should be a fun time. I wish them luck as they work hard at their craft to make some good brews. Check them out if you are ever in the Chicagoland area.

We moved onto the northern portion of the central concourse which was heavy in California beers. North Coast Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Anchor, Stone, Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ale, Magic Hat Brewing Company, Rogue, and Three Floyds Brewing Company. Some really good beer all around. Was like being in beer land.

Some ladies enjoying the Fest.

Some ladies enjoying the Fest.

The last area we headed to was the south portion of the central concourse. Mainly Wisconsin breweries. As could be expected there was a lot of breweries in this section, big and small. We had a long stay here: Lakefront Brewery, Capital Brewery, Tyranena Brewing Company, Buffalo Water, Water Street, Furthermore Beer, and Ale Asylum.

As the night winded down we ended up at the only brewery that was still serving and serving large: Left Hand Brewing Company. They were serving up MooToo which was a mixture of Sawtooth Ale and Milk Stout. Unique and darn tasty.

There was a brew club area in which at least a handful of brew clubs were represented. I would have liked to spend some time there but Rich and Sue wanted the “normal” breweries. Maybe next year.

List of the beers we tried

  • Hop Slam by Bells
  • Reserve Special Black by Dark Horse
  • Dirty Bastard by Founders
  • Old Curmudgeon Barrel (1 year aged) by Founders – this was a special tapping and I received a full glass since I asked for 37 ounces. 🙂 Outstanding!
  • La Roja by Jolly Pumpkin
  • Tangerine Wheat by Lost Coast
  • Chocolate Stout by Fort Collins Brewery
  • Yella Pils by Oskar Blues
  • Old Chub by Oskar Blues – can’t get this in IL, first time, liked it a lot.
  • The Kaiser by Avery
  • Krank Shaft by Metropolitan – could have drank this one all day (had two servings), really good people.
  • Rasputin by North Coast
  • Dogtown Pale Ale by Lagunitas – do they make anything I don’t like?
  • Foghorn Barleywine by Anchor Steam
  • Russian Imperial Stout by Stone
  • Indian Brown Ale by Dogfish Head
  • Odd Notion Sake by Magic Hat
  • Black and Blue by Dogfish Head – Rich
  • Forti by Magic Hat – Sue
  • Rare Vosz Belgium Style Amber
  • Munsterfest by Three Floyds
  • Pride and Joy by Three Floyds – really smooth, really good
  • Gordon Foch by Three Floyds – Sue
  • Maierfest Lager by Rogue
  • Edmund Fitzgerald by Great Lakes
  • Pumpkin by Lakefront
  • Steinbeir by Lakefront – Sue
  • Supperclub by Capital – Rich
  • Painted Ladies Pumpkin Spice Ale by Tyranena
  • Bison Blonde by Buffalo Water
  • Dunkle Weiss by Water Street – nice beer, had several
  • Raspberry Weiss by Water Street – Sue
  • Proper by Furthermore
  • Contorter by Ale Asylum
  • MooToo by Left Hand – a blend of Sawtooth and Milk Stout – unique and fun, was the only brewery, that I knew of, pouring after 7pm.
  • Milk Stout by Left Hand

Tons of good beer that I didn’t have also but I would have needed another eight hours to get it all. Overall everyone had a great time and I hope to make another trip up there next year. Enjoy!

Lots and Lots of Beer from Brewery Hop

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Pile of beer that I picked up while on the brewery hop to south-central Wisconsin.

Pile of beer that I picked up while on the brewery hop to south-central Wisconsin.

My last brewery hop was an expedition that covered four breweries: New Glarus Brewing Company, Capital Brewery, Lakefront Brewery, and Tyranena Brewing Company. When you embark on such a large journey there is a large amount of beer that has to be both consumed and purchased, not only for myself but beer drinking friends. That is exactly what happened.

The New Glarus Brewing Company was the first stop and most of the beer purchased here was not for me. The wife, Ed, Mark, and Rich were the wantees. air jordan 6 femmes I was just the travelling madman. From there on out, at each of the breweries, I purchased less and less. I was starting to worry about space and how I would pack the van back up for trip home. I didn’t want another causality similar to the Three Floyds Brewing Company brewery hop.

Lakefront Brewery Laverne & Shirley ornament.

Lakefront Brewery Laverne & Shirley ornament.

The biggest haul of the brewery hop whirlwind tour came from Star Liquor in Madison, WI. Great selection of beer that I can’t touch in Illinois. I was also fortunate that they had a Tyranena Brewing Company taste test going on which was nice, even if I only caught the last ten minutes of it.

So here is the list of beer (drum roll please):

Weekend of Brewery Hops Tons of Fun!

Monday, July 27th, 2009
Capital Brewery painted sign on top of the building.  Had to pull off on the side of the highway to get this shot.

Capital Brewery painted sign on top of the building. Had to pull off on the side of the highway to get this shot.

The brewery hops started an hour later than expected at 9:00am but we really didn't have anywhere to be, so an hour late wasn't going to hurt. We followed the gps directions to New Glarus Brewing Co., which took us a much different way than the last time we went. I enjoyed the no traffic roads but there was 20 left and right turn along the way, as well as two bridges being completely out for construction, adding 20 miles to entire drive. I gave the gps a stern talking to and we are both now on the same page.

My middle child wanted to go (run) through the brewery again. Done. air jordan 4 femmes The wife and I had a quick taste test (10 minutes tops for all three) and we were down stairs picking up some delicious bottled liquid. Mixed six packs, some Unplugged, R&D Golden Ale, Raspberry Tart, Belgian Red; you start to get the picture we purchased the entire joint. Not that you will believe but most was for beer friends.

Star Liquor beer store in Madison, WI.  Cozy place with good staff and a good selection of beer.

Star Liquor beer store in Madison, WI. Cozy place with good staff and a good selection of beer.

I was looking for at least one snifter glass on these brewery hops but couldn't find one at any of the breweries I visited. My wife has a Crate & Barrel gift card, just wait until she goes to sleep and I will have new glasses. 😉

The next stop on the tour was Middleton, WI to take a 3:30pm tour of Capital Brewery. There was time in the itinerary (yes, I am anal and put together a two page spreadsheet itinerary) to visit Lake Louie Brewing in Arena, WI but after a phone call that went unanswered (which Tom, the owner, told me they might not be there), so we found a public park that had a nice picnic area, lake, play ground, and water park to eat lunch. Of course the anticipation of playing in the water led to light lunches for the three kids.

Unfortunately it started to rain and we decided to head over to the actual brewery. It was still only 2:30pm but it was time to enjoy a beverage. Once at the brewery we decided to drive over to the hotel instead of keeping the kids all cooped up with the rain, especially after they starting running in the rain and getting their clothes all wet.

Lakefront Brewing Company tour coin that allows you to get one of your four allotted eight ounce beers while on the tour.

Lakefront Brewing Company tour coin that allows you to get one of your four allotted eight ounce beers while on the tour.

Amazingly the hotel I booked in Madison, WI was a mere 1.5 miles away from Capital Brewery. We were in-and-out and back for a beer within 20 minutes.

I had the Wild Rice and my wife had their Wisconsin Amber. The kids had pop and water. Yes, pop, it was vacation time.

The tour led to one tidbit of information that surprised me: Capital Brewery does all of it's bottling at a remote brewery.

After the tour we found our way to Madison for dinner and a stop at Star Liqours. air jordan 4.5 femmes Star is a small store that from the outside sort of lead me to believe I was going to be disappointed. Umm, yeah, I am dumb. Adam, the manager, loves beer, loves to talk beer, and lent a hand in selection. Star has an awesome selection of beers from the area and from some breweries that I can't buy from in Illinois. Most notably: Oskar Blues.

Lakefront Brewing Company lineup of taps at the bar where you wait for the tour.

Lakefront Brewing Company lineup of taps at the bar where you wait for the tour.

Day two of the brewery hop tour started early, again: 10:00am. We had a 12:00pm tour reservation at Sprecher Brewing Company (the only way you can do tours there). The drive to the Milwaukee area is about 90 minutes and I wanted to be early, as usual.

After about ten minutes of driving I brought up to my wife that I would really like to try and do Lakefront and Tryanena since Sprecher is the easier of the three to visit in terms of the number of tours. So after a promise of not to rush too much, we changed courses for a 1:00pm brewery hop at Lakefront Brewery and a 3:30pm brewery hop at Tyranena Brewing.

Tyranena Brewing Company bottle cleaning, preparing the bottle to receive some beer.

Tyranena Brewing Company bottle cleaning, preparing the bottle to receive some beer.

What a complete stroke of luck: Lakefront actually started doing noon tours, because of demand, and by the time we were done with our tour they were sold out for the rest of the day. So, if we had gone to Sprecher there is no way we could have gone on a brewery hop at Lakefront.

The Lakefront Brewery tour is aimed at all ages and all interests of the brewing process by encouraging group participation and some light comedy. Entertaining. They also give you a lot for the $6 tour price: free 8 ounce glass, four 8 ounce testers, one pint glass, and the tour. There was also an air and water show going on in Milwaukee so the kids and myself thought it was cool when the F-16 buzzed overhead a couple of times. Damn hot rod of the skies! Very loud, very fast, very cool.

Tyranena Brewing Company malt grinder preparing the malt to go into the mash where it will mix with water starting the brewing process.

Tyranena Brewing Company malt grinder preparing the malt to go into the mash where it will mix with water starting the brewing process.

After some pizza for lunch and enjoying the sun on the river outside the brewery, it was time to pack it up and head back towards Lake Mills, WI and Tyranena Brewing Company. air jordan 5 femmes The 50 minute drive back was full of anticipation and I couldn't wait to hit my third brewery hop in a little over 24 hours.

Tyranena is a smaller brewery but they have some quality and tasty products. The tour was very education as it was led by the assistant brewer, Nevin. He shared a very thorough knowledge of the brewing process and how it is done at Tyranena with the group. They even have some hop plants growing out back.

A lot of driving, a lot of walking, a lot of questing, a lot of tasting equals a crap load of brewery hop fun. I don't know if this is true or not, but one bartender at Lakefront mentioned to me that kids in Wisconsin can drink as long as they are with their parents. Nice law. Each brewery hop had its own twist on what to share with the group of people but each always centered around the idea of making good American craft beer. I look forward to planning another big trip like this either in the fall or spring. Heck, maybe I can talk the wife into one in the fall and on in the spring! My next brewery hop will be to Two Brothers Brewing Company in Warrenville, IL. Hopefully I can get Rich out there with me too. Enjoy!

New Beer From a Traveling Neighbor

Monday, July 20th, 2009

My neighbor from across the way recently traveled through Pennsylvania and New Jersey for a family wedding. Of course I had to impose and give them a list of potential beers from breweries that I can’t get in the Chicagoland area. The list was brief but I was trying for some beers that were from little breweries.

Weyerbacher Brewery Company - Quad

Weyerbacher Brewery Company - Quad

After my neighbor, Miles, arrived home I eagerly awaited the ring of the doorbell that signaled the arrival of the liquid goodness he was able to score on the trip. He brought me over a six pack with Magic Hat Circus Boy (can get in the area, here is the beer review), Weyerbacher QUAD, and Michigan Brewing Celis Grand Cru (one Big Sky Summer Honey was thrown in since there were only five beers). air jordan 14 Not what I expected but I am gracious nonetheless that he took time out his family vacation to try and get me some beer. Thank you Miles.

Every story has a funny side though. This one has is tragic. As Miles was packing up the vehicle for the return trip, pushed some extra belongings from the inside of the vehicle towards the back, and, of course, pushed all the beer onto the ground. Yikes!

Now it becomes easy to see why he only came back with five beers and three of those had scratches on them from where they had bounced on the asphalt. I guess I was lucky to even get those five 🙂

What have I learned from the second friend/neighbor that has traveled looking for beer: I need to give them specific instructions if they can’t find what I am interested in, don’t bother. Enjoy!

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