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Beer lovers have plenty to be thankful for this week. Black Friday is synonymous with bargain-shopping miscreants slugging it out over fleece blanket specials at department stores. But it has also become a big day for beer. In Milwaukee, there’s plenty to do for most of the week.
The Milwaukee Beer Society kicks things off with a bottle share on Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 26). From 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, bring a special four-pack of two large rare bottles to Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.) to share with other beer aficionados.
Thanksgiving Day is spent with turkey and the cognitive dissonance caused by Packers fans being forced to root for the Bears over the Lions. Get plenty of sleep because you want to get in line early at Lakefront Brewery on Black Friday morning to snag some of the bourbon barrel-aged Black Friday Imperial Stout that the brewery begins selling at 8 a.m. Bottle sharing is encouraged, and that’s as good a way to pass the early morning hours as I can think of. It’s become a festive day at Lakefront, but it’s a good idea get in line in the wee hours to ensure that you get bottles of what is sure to be a delicious brew.
Go home and take a nap after Lakefront, because Black Friday Beerfest at the Harley-Davison Museum (400 W. Canal St.) starts at 4 p.m. Sample brews from more than 20 breweries, most of which are from Wisconsin.
You’re not out of the woods on Saturday. That’s when Ray’s (8930 W. North Ave.) hosts Super Saturday. Be in line early, because at 7:30 a.m. Ray’s hands out a pair of tickets. One ensures your ability to purchase Bourbon County Stout, and the other enters you in a raffle with a chance to snag some of the rarities that Ray’s has been cellaring. So if you get there late, you still have a chance at some good stuff.
The first 40 people in line are rewarded for their early arrival with a tap or two of Bourbon County Stout in the Growler Gallery. The Gallery will be filled with some treats as well, including the three proprietary beers made especially for Ray’s. With everything planned, it should be a pretty crazy morning. “We feel that beer is meant to be shared, and we want to spread the wealth,” said Orey Laev of Ray’s. “It’s not just about the beer.”
I made the trek to Muskego to check out The Suburban Bourbon (S76 W17745 Janesville Rd.) on Saturday. The diverse beer list includes 12 taps and more than 30 bottle choices from breweries like Pearl Street, New Holland, Left Coast and Lakefront. (A fair amount of gluten-free options are also on the menu.) I had a snifter of delicious Founders Breakfast Stout and watched an early evening crowd roll in. A solid beer list, growler filling, a huge bourbon selection and a reasonably priced menu all add up to a reason to make a trip to the distant suburbs.
Barley Pop of the Week
I snagged a bottle of Sprecher Czar Brew Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout last weekend and it only lasted five or six hours in my fridge. Hints of boozy bourbon and an ABV of 12% provide the warmth I like in a barrel-aged beer. But Czar Brew isn’t overly sweet or cloying, and hasn’t lost the dark chocolate and malt flavor in the barrel. It still has a nice Imperial Stout flavor that didn’t get overpowered by the bourbon.
Medals were announced last week for the 2014 Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers. The list of winners was impressive, and included Milwaukee Brewing Company. That’s right; the locals snagged a gold medal in the Strong/Double/Imperial Dark Beer category for Louie’s Resurrection. Well done, MKE.
I stopped by Draft & Vessel (4417 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood) over the weekend. It’s a great little spot and I’ll have more information about it next week.
Tuesday, Nov. 25: Beer Fight comes to Burnhearts (2599 S. Logan Ave.). It pits Burnhearts against Palomino, to see which bar can put together the best beer list of a variety of styles. The theme is “Midwest versus the rest” which means that Burnhearts can choose beers from the Midwest, and Palomino chooses brews from anywhere else in America. The cost is $25 to be a part of the rumble and the fighting starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets at Burnhearts are sold out, but try Palomino at 414-747-1007 to see if they have any left.
Tuesday, Nov. 25: Sample Southern Tier Chocolate Stout and Guinness Blonde at Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.) from 5 to 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 29: Try “Not What I Thought” beers from 1 to 4 p.m. at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.).
Saturday, Nov. 29: Saturday is a big day at Uber Tap Room (1048 N. Old World Third St.) too. The second annual Barley and Whey Festival lets patrons sample beers, cheese and chocolates from 2 to 9 p.m. A beer and cheese pairing at 8 p.m. includes a cheddar made with Lakefront Coffee Stout. Tickets are just $14.