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Giving Thanks
A list of beer-related thanks, some Black Friday deals and the perfect Christmas present.

Hop Head Beer Tours: The perfect Christmas gift

I love Thanksgiving weekend. It involves delicious food, football is always on (go Huskers) and familial obligations are taken care of on Thursday so you’ve got a long weekend of relaxation.

But let’s not forget what it’s all about...giving thanks. I’m thankful for these beer-related items: Romans’ Pub, expanded distribution of Bourbon County Stout, beer fests, Gumballhead, Citra hops, Burnheart’s, being able to write about beer, Discount Liquor’s beer aisle, ornate tap handles, and (of course) Hopslam.


Black Friday for the Beer Geek

Shopaholics love Black Friday (on Nov. 23 this year) because of the great deals and the fun that comes with standing in line next to other bargain shoppers and brawling over subpar appliances. Local beer geeks can escape the retail riots and enjoy more refined pursuits at a few events catering specifically to them.

Black Friday Beer Fest takes place at Motor Restaurant in the Harley-Davidson Museum (400 W. Canal St.) from 5-8 p.m. For just $30 you can taste dozens of offerings from top-notch breweries. Buy tickets online.

Rarities can create a buzz, and Lakefront Brewery is giving the rare beer thing a shot. Lakefront is selling Black Friday Imperial India Style Black Ale only on Black Friday and only at the brewery (1872 N. Commerce St.). The 22-ounce bottles go on sale starting at 8 a.m., and the first 300 customers get a Black Friday pint glass. Get there early for the 10 percent ABV ale, Lakefront expects the beer to go quickly. Lakefront is also running brewery tours all day starting at 8:30 a.m.

Speaking of rarities, Black Friday is also the day the Goose Island releases Bourbon County Coffee Stout and the new (and delicious sounding) Bourbon County Cherry Rye Stout. No word yet if either will be immediately available in the Milwaukee area. (You may need to hop in the car and head south to Chicago to pick some up, which will keep you away from the mall for hours.)


The Perfect Christmas Present

The elves at Hop Head Beer Tours have come up with the best Christmas present a beer fan can receive (better even than a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock).

It’s hard to convey the awesomeness of the Tri-State Brewery Bus Tour. The weekend bus tour departs from the Loomis Road park and ride in Milwaukee on Friday, Feb. 15 and begins a three-day odyssey in search of barley Nirvana. 

The beer bus stops at...drum roll please...Three Floyds (Munster, Ind.), The Livery (Benton Harbor, Mich.) and New Holland (Holland, Mich.) on Friday. On Saturday, Founders (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Dark Horse (Marshall, Mich.), and Bell’s (Kalamazoo, Mich.) are on the schedule. The trip wraps up with Sunday visits to Revolution and Goose Island in Chicago before heading back to Milwaukee (no doubt with a busload of napping patrons).

These aren’t run-of-the-mill breweries. They are some of the best in the Midwest. If you go, remember to be nice to your fellow travelers, pace yourself (the trip is a marathon not a sprint), and stay hydrated. 

The cost is an extremely reasonable $379 per person (double occupancy lodging) or $479 per person (single occupancy lodging). If you’re interested, don’t wait. I expect something this cool to sell out quickly.


Barley Pop of the Week

Full disclosure: I root for the local breweries. And it’s easier to pull for them when they make good beer. Big Bay Portside Porter fits the bill. It’s a subtle and smooth brew with hints of chocolate and a slightly bitter finish. Portside’s ABV of 4.8 percent and mild flavor makes it a sessionable beer for dark beer lovers. 


Quick Tap

I’m a fan of Draft Magazine and I love “best of” lists. Therefore, I really like Draft’s list of the Top 25 Beers of 2012.


Events Brewing

Tuesday, Nov. 20: Taste New Belgium beers from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.).

Wednesday, Nov. 21: Taste New Belgium beers from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.).

Wednesday, Nov. 21: Potosi Brewing brings samples to Discount Liquor Waukesha from 3-6 p.m. 

Saturday, Nov. 24: Taste Guinness Black Lager samples from 1-3 p.m. at Discount Liquor Milwaukee.

Saturday, Nov. 24: Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.) pours samples of “Winter Beers” from 1-4 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 25: Sugar Maple (441 E. Lincoln Ave.) continues its Brewery Sessions series with a visit from New Holland Brewing starting at 4 p.m. The $15 cost covers five beer samples.

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