I made a trip to Omaha last weekend and scouted the beer scene. Through sheer blind luck, the Badgers are headed there for the NCAA tournament. Omaha is a lot different than it was in 2008 when Wisconsin made its last visit, and it’s a perfect spot to fill a weekend with basketball and beer.
The area around the CenturyLink Center is now filled with bars and restaurants, and is just a few blocks from the Old Market, a bustling entertainment district reminiscent of the Third Ward.
Beer fans can find plenty to keep them occupied in these two areas, but I suggest taking a short Uber to the Blackstone District on Farnam Street. A five-block stretch of Farnam includes two breweries, one of the best beer bars in the country, and a beer store filled with plenty of hard-to-find choices.
Start by enjoying the gorgeous wood and brick interior at Scriptown Brewing (3922 Farnam St.). The place specializes in session beers and the Lone Tree IPA is one of the best session IPAs I’ve tried.
Walk a few blocks to Crescent Moon (3578 Farnam St.), a spot that has earned a place on Draft Magazine’s top 100 beer bars list thanks to a diverse beer list and a welcoming atmosphere. Odell Brewing selections are popular here, and the tavern has a fair amount of choices from Nebraska breweries.
Beertopia is next door, a popular craft beer store filled with more than 650 different brews and more than a few hard-to-find selections.
Farnam House Brewing (3558 Farnam St.) is just a few steps away. Try the delicious Hop Harvest Saison or the intriguing Rum Barrel-Aged Pumpkin Saison. I sampled three beers here and each one was solid.
There are other places in Omaha for beers lovers–Krug Park (6205 Maple St.) in the Benson neighborhood is one of my favorite bars anywhere and a tour of Nebraska Brewing Company (6950 S. 108th St.) isn’t a bad idea–but if you want to stay close to downtown, Farnam Street is a safe bet and includes a day’s worth of sampling options.
Champps Redefines March Madness
In the last few months, Tony Lewanovich has made changes at Champps Americana (1240 S. Moorland Rd.), putting the Brookfield spot in the middle of the craft beer conversation.
The owner increased the number of taps to 47 and has snagged a fair amount of rare brews.
“It’s been a fun ride getting to this point,” says Lewanovich. “The relationships that we have built and the true partnerships that we have assembled with the brewers that are here as well as those coming has been nothing short of incredible. We quietly went about our business over the past 18 months in order to earn the right to pour some of these magical beers.”
Lewanovich and Champps are upping the ante this weekend at the start of the NCAA basketball tournament with a four-day beer lineup that is fairly amazing.
On Thursday, March 19, Champps kicks off the tournament at 11 a.m. by tapping the rare Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. The beer takes the Imperial IPA to a uniquely delicious level. It’s quite a start to a crazy weekend. Take a look at the tapping schedule and a Saturday filled with barrel-aged beers.
Thursday, March 19: 11 a.m. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA; 1:30 p.m. Lakefront My Turn Matt Oak Aged Farmhouse Red; 4 p.m. Great Lakes Chillwave IIPA; 6:30 p.m. Surly Cacao Bender and Surly Overrated West Coast IPA
Friday, March 20: 11 a.m. Three Floyds Zombie Dust; 1:30 p.m. New Belgium/Half Acre Avoine Oat IPA; 4 p.m. Ale Asylum Pantheon Brown Ale; 6:30 p.m. Leinenkugel Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout
Saturday, March 21: 11 a.m. Deschutes Barrel-Aged Jubel 2015; 1:30 p.m. Founders Blushing Monk (see below); 4 p.m. Ballast Point Barrel-Aged Victory at Sea Imperial Porter; 6:30 p.m. Lagunitas High Westified Barrel-Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
Ray’s TV Episode 2
Ray’s TV just gets better. Watch this one and find out the amazing things Ray’s Wine & Spirits (8930 W. North Ave.) has planned for the release of Founders KBS.
Barley Pop of the Week
After a four-year hiatus Founders Blushing Monk has made a triumphant return. The bright red Belgian ale is bursting with tart raspberries and a potent 9.2% ABV. I thought it was delicious, and right in time for spring. If you like fruit beers and you see it, grab a bottle.
Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day revelry, but I implore you, don’t drink green beer. It’s just not right.
Cheers to the Nomad World Pub (1401 E. Brady St.) which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week. A fine bar with good beer and one of the best people-watching patios in the city.
Firkin Fest is scheduled for Saturday, July 18, but tickets go on sale on Friday, March 20 at noon.
Wednesday, March 18: Try beers from Unibroue at Bierklasse at Cafe Centraal (2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) starting at 7 p.m. Cost is $30. Make a reservation at Bierklasse@LowlandsGroup.com.
Thursday, March 19: The NCAA basketball tournament gets going. See above for an idea on where to go.
Thursday, March 19: Firkin night at Honeypie Cafe (2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) features beers from Furthermore. The cask-conditioned beer starts flowing at 6 p.m.
Thursday, March 19: The Milwaukee Beer Society pairs beer with Girl Scout cookies from 6 to 9 p.m. at Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.). Cost is just $10.
Friday, March 20: Sample Guinness brews at Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.) from 4 to 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 21: Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.) hands out samples of “unique beers” from 1 to 4 p.m. It’s worth the trip to find out which brews qualify.