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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’ […]


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.

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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.

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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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Thanksgiving is the time to reflect on whatever blessings we’re lucky enough to have. Sure, I’m thankful for my friends, my family, monkeys, salted and cured meats, tater tots, blah, blah, blah. But this is a blog about beer, so here are a few beer-related items that I need to recognize. $4 Pabst tallboys at […]


Thanksgiving is the time to reflect on whatever blessings we’re lucky enough to have. Sure, I’m thankful for my friends, my family, monkeys, salted and cured meats, tater tots, blah, blah, blah. But this is a blog about beer, so here are a few beer-related items that I need to recognize.

$4 Pabst tallboys at the Riverside, Pabst Theater and Turner Hall.
These three venues host a wide range of great acts, and basically give Pabst cans away to those jamming to Widespread Panic, acting like Kid Charlemagne at a Steely Dan show, or marveling at Kenny Rogers and his new plastic face. The siren song of the tallboy has actually swayed me to go to shows that I was originally on the fence for. 

The abundance of breweries all around Wisconsin.
Potosi, Capital, New Glarus, Furthermore, Central Waters, Tyranena, O’so, and many more. A massive cheese state brewery tour/pub crawl would be awesome, but finding a driver would be tough.

Morning at Lambeau Field.
Beer for breakfast makes so much sense at 1265 Lombardi Ave. I love the smell of bratwurst in the morning. Smells like…victory.

The repeal of Prohibition.
Old news, but I’d have no bars to review without it.

Miller Park and the Brewers.
A tap of cold High Life, a seat in the loge level, and a Ryan Braun dinger or two add up to one of my favorite ways to spend a summer day. The big question in 2012, “Who’s on first?” No really, I’m asking.

Weiss beer on the Hooligan’s patio.
The outdoor seating at Hoolie’s (2017 E. North Ave., 414-273-5230) sits squarely in the middle of the crazy corner at North and Farwell avenues. I love watching the scene play out while slowly sipping a big crisp weiss. I realize that November means it’s a long way to patio seating season, but the thought of it (as well as Packers football and Marquette hoops) gets me through the winter.

A few beers off of the top of my head.
New Glarus Spotted Cow, Bell’s Oberon, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Fat Tire, Miller High Life, Left Hand Milk Stout, Sprecher Amber, Lakefront Fixed Gear, and whatever new brews I try this month. I’m generally most thankful for the beer sitting in front of me at any given time.

Events Brewing: A Better Black Friday
Some spend the day after Thanksgiving wrestling a grandmother to the ground for a $3 fleece blanket, or standing in line in the wee hours to get a $5 discount on a low-quality flat screen TV. That’s just not my thing.

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I think a better (and far less dangerous) plan is having a personal “Black Friday” by sampling porters and stouts at a local establishment. The Bomb Shelter is a good choice (as are several other local spots, but for this sake of this blog it’s the Bomb Shelter). The low-key Walker’s Point tavern at 1517 S. Second St. just received bottles of Lakefront’s awesomely named Dan Made a Baltic Porter, which I hear is tasty, but I have yet to try. With 360 beers on the menu, there are plenty of other dark hued libations to pick from.

The Bomb Shelter opens at 3 p.m. on Friday. Check your neighborhood tap for their opening times. Try spending your Black Friday at a bar. It’s far more dignified than standing in a crowded checkout line with a shopping cart full of closeout Betamax players.


Barley Pop of the Week
The Bell’s Winter White Ale is another tasty concoction from Larry Bell and his cohorts in Kalamazoo. It’s perfect for beer drinkers intimidated by winter seasonals that have a bold flavor and unceremoniously smack you in face (and liver) with an alcohol content akin to rocket fuel. I’ll be talking about plenty of heavier winter beers in the upcoming weeks (you need to stay warm in the winter, after all), but for now I’m taking a walk on the lighter side. The Winter White is a golden colored beer (no resemblance to motor oil here) that’s got a hint of citrus and the taste of wheat. If you’re pining for summery Bell’s Oberon in the winter (like me), this is a similar alternative. Plus, the label is cool.  

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Happy Thanksgiving, loyal readers! I hope that all four of you have a fine turkey day. Cheers.

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