When Lake Louie Brewing kicks off the baseball season at its outpost at the Lake Country DockHounds’ stadium in Oconomowoc this spring, it’ll be doing so with beer – wait for it – aged with baseball bats.
The lager, which has yet to be named, will be fermented aged with (clean, unused) chips and pieces of unfinished, untreated maple bats made by Dingbat, a manufacturer based in Verona – not coincidentally, also the hometown of Lake Louie’s parent, Wisconsin Brewing Co.
“As we were planning ideas for our new pilot, it dawned on us that beer aged in wood is a thing,” said Paul Verdu, president of Wisconsin Brewing Co., which is the name sponsor of the DockHounds stadium. “Think barrels, infusion spirals, dare I even say the good ol’ beechwood aging from you-know-who. We thought…why not a bat?”
That beer is expected to be ready for the opening of the DockHounds’ season on May 12, but festivities at the Lake Louie DockHaus begin with a grand opening on April 14 featuring beer and appetizers, tours of the brewery, a ribbon-cutting and live music.
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Lake Louie/WBC brewmaster Kirby Nelson commissioned the Waukesha-made, five-barrel ProBrew brewhouse in November by brewing a Vienna lager. Nelson has been overseeing brewing operations, Verdu said, and Luke Foth is the Dockhaus’ local head brewer. The taproom is operating as an event space on non-game days, though Verdu said there will be occasional events such as bingo or viewing parties that will be open to the public. Butter Than The Rest Catering handles the venue’s food.
Lake Louie and the DockHounds are planning several collaboration brews, such as a series of barrel-aged beers with Central Standard Craft Distillery and a lime gose for a Margaritaville promotion weekend in June.
The brewery will serve as a pilot and innovation brewery and testing grounds for beers that could join the Lake Louie portfolio. The brand was founded in 1999 and acquired by 10-year-old WBC in 2019. WBC began consolidating its own beers under the Lake Louie name last fall.
“It has been a long time coming, and the brewing team has spent the past couple of months making sure everything is ready to go. The trial runs have been fantastic, and we cannot wait to unveil this gem to Wisconsin beer lovers,” Verdu said. “We are so proud to be partners with the Lake Country DockHounds and the ability to bring Lake Louie Brewing directly into the middle of Lake Country is a huge opportunity to grow the brand.”
It’s quite a spring for ballpark breweries in southeastern Wisconsin. Molson Coors brand Leinenkugel’s is opening the J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard at American Family Field on the Milwaukee Brewers’ opening day, April 3. Club officials said last month that the Barrel Yard’s three-barrel brewing system is expected to be operational by the home opener.