Two years ago, Third Space Brewing co-founders Kevin Wright and Andy Gehl wanted to commemorate National IPA Day, which happens on the first Thursday of August. The result was Wisconsin IPA Fest, a daylong sampling of some of the best IPAs made in Wisconsin.
On Saturday (Aug. 3), the third iteration of Wisconsin IPA Fest takes place at Third Space (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.). The event features 51 different IPAs made by Wisconsin craft breweries and tickets start at $15. This year there are a significant amount of beers on the hazy side, a decided departure from the first event in 2017 and an indicator of what IPA drinkers prefer in 2019.
“It has been interesting to see the transformation of style mix we’ve seen at the event each year and it really matches what you are seeing on the shelves and tap lines in Wisconsin,” said Gehl. “This year more than 50% of the IPAs are in the hazy/juicy category. In year one there was only a handful. The good news for those of us that still love a good West Coast IPA or more traditional styles, there are plenty of those at the fest too. People will have a chance to taste a wide variety.”
Eagle Park Brewing is one local brewery that has excelled at the hazier styles. Eagle Park’s Demon Haze IPA won the “People’s Choice” award at last year’s IPA Fest.
“Wisconsin’s craft beer culture has seen a very quick boom over the past five or so years that has helped bring many new ideas into the beer community here,” said Jake Schinker, a co-owner of Eagle Park. “The most popular just happens to be New England style IPAs. Hazy or New England-style IPAs were a style that we enjoyed drinking but couldn’t find locally. It just made sense to start developing recipes that brought this style closer to home rather than having to trade beer across the country to get our hands on some.”
Here are a few hazy IPAs, and a couple of other styles, you should make sure you try at Wisconsin IPA Fest:
Wisconsin IPA Fest Hazy Double IPA
Third Space Brewing/Central Waters Brewing
A collab between two of the best breweries in Wisconsin is a can’t-miss at IPA Fest. Get your sample of this early because it likely won’t last long. If you have a VIP ticket, you get to take a four-pack of cans home.
Juice Cloud IPA
Lion’s Tail Brewing: Lion’s Tail Brewing
I tried this brew from Neenah at the first Wisconsin IPA Fest two years ago and loved it. It’s big on juicy citrus flavor, and pretty much everything a hazy IPA should be.
Demon Haze IPA
Eagle Park Brewing
Last year’s “People’s Choice” award winner, and rightly so. It’s a well-balanced mix of juicy goodness with a hint of dank bitterness from a brewery that is skilled at the hazier styles.
One Day Sale IPA
1840 Brewing Company
Every IPA I’ve had from 1840 has been exceptional. This one is double dry hopped with comet, galaxy and HBC-472 hops. The latter can add a woody oak flavor, and even hints of coconut, to the beer. I’m intrigued.
Upward Spiral IPA
Third Space Brewing
Upward Spiral claimed the coveted IPA Fest trophy last year, voted on by fellow brewers. It’s a fantastic West Coast IPA, with a balance of malt and citrus hop flavor that’s ideal for when you need a break from the haze.
Spoonerism Unfiltered IPA
I like what Ahnapee is doing here. Spoonerism is unfiltered for haziness, but still registers 40 IBUs, for a little more bitterness than you find in other juice bombs. Also, with just a 5.5% ABV, it’s an easy summer day drinker.
Strawberry Shoppe Milkshake IPA
Central Waters Brewing
If someone’s bringing the lactose, it might as well be Central Waters. Fans of creamy milkshake IPAs should have no problem enjoying this brew made with strawberries, vanilla and lactose.
Moon Man Pale Ale
New Glarus Brewing
Moon Man is nothing new, but it’s still an amazing beer. It has a smooth and subtle pine and citrus flavor with a touch of sweet malt. It’s well-balanced and extremely easy to drink at just 5 % ABV. Consider it your session beer at IPA Fest.