New Year’s Eve generally sucks and rarely lives up to lofty expectations. Steny’s (800 S. Second St.) has a plan to change that. New Beers Eve starts at 6 p.m. and includes hourly tappings of a number of hard-to-find beers. For example, at 8 p.m. Steny’s taps a Todd the Axeman IPA from Surly Brewing. At midnight, Three Floyds Zombie Dust starts to flow. And if you’re still awake at 1 a.m., a keg of Bourbon County Stout will usher in 2015 with a boozy bang. There are plenty of other great beers in the lineup. Head to Steny’s to see for yourself. See more New Year’s Eve ideas in the events below.
The Best of 2014
There were plenty of reasons to be a happy beer fan in 2014. Here are a few highlights:
I tried a lot of (too many?) beers in 2014. Here’s a list of my favorites. They’re not all new, but in 2014 they were new to me. It was a pretty good year.
Cigar City Illuminating the Path Strong Ale: This collaboration with Ecliptic is aged in Pinot Noir barrels, which gives it a slightly tart flavor with a hint of booze. It was the most unique beer I tried in 2014, and it was made better by the fact that I had it at The Jeffrey, a fantastic beer bar in Manhattan.
Deep Ellum IPA: Some beers are memorable because of how good they are and the environment in which they are sampled. The mildly bitter citrus flavor of Deep Ellum IPA is certainly delicious, but I drank mine at Pecan Lodge in Dallas while washing down some of the best brisket I’ve ever had. A perfect pair.
Founders Mosaic Promise IPA: Fruity Mosaic hops provide the flavor for this crisp and extremely drinkable beer. Founders continues to impress.
Founders Dark Penance Black IPA: I’m not usually a fan of this style, but Dark Penance is too good to deny. It’s a nice balance of roasted malt and hop bitterness. And, at 8.9% ABV, it packs a punch.
Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla Rye Stout: I really like this year’s Bourbon County Coffee, but the Vanilla Rye was outstanding. Big vanilla flavor mixed well with the richness of the stout. I’d love to cellar one of these bottles and see how it ages, but unfortunately, I only had one.
Greenbush Barrel-Aged Dystopia Russian Imperial Stout: My fall trip to Greenbush in Sawyer, Michigan, was rewarded with a snifter of this elixir. It is slightly sweet, boozy and holds up to the best barrel-aged stouts out there.
Karben4 RAYley’s Comet IPA: Made especially for Ray’s Growler Gallery, and made very well. The citrus hop flavor is balanced and not overpowering.
Lakefront Brandy Barrel-Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale: A fall treat that comes in at a healthy 9.5% ABV. The combination of spice and booziness is the perfect complement to a brisk fall day in Wisconsin.
New Glarus Scream IIPA: New Glarus never disappoints. The big flavor of Scream comes from citrusy hops, well-balanced malts and a nice bitter finish. Another reason to appreciate living in Wisconsin.
Pipeworks Citra Saison: This tasty brew debuted at Sierra Nevada Beer Camp in Chicago and immediately had a line of people waiting to try it. The juicy fruit flavor of the Citra hops makes perfect sense in a saison.
Pipeworks The Jones Dog Barrel-Aged Milk Stout: Another strong barrel-aged beauty with hints of chocolate and booze. The Jones Dog took home a gold medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer.
Spring House Brewing The Astounding She-Monster Mango IPA: The hint of mango is the perfect complement to the bitter fruit flavor of Simcoe, Chinook and Falconer’s Flight hops.
Toppling Goliath pseudoSue Pale Ale: I realize I’m late to the party on Sue, but the first time I tried this popular brew was in 2014. The deliciousness of Citra hops gives way to perfect bitterness.
Upland Coastbuster Imperial IPA: West Coast IPAs have nothing on this standout from Bloomington, Indiana. A big hop presence melds tropical and citrus flavors with moderate bitterness. Thanks to Kaleb at Ray’s Wine & Spirits for introducing me to this gem.
I was fortunate enough to finagle an invite to the Beer Capitol Beer Summit, which took place at Lakefront Brewery in early May. I got to try some great brews, including a delicious Bell’s Barrel-Aged Kalamazoo Stout, but what stood out was a 45-minute panel discussion that included Larry Bell (Bell’s Brewery), Dick Leinenkugel (Tenth and Blake), Joe Martino (Stevens Point Brewery) Kirby Nelson (Wisconsin Brewing), Russ Klisch (Lakefront Brewery) and Tom Porter (Lake Louie Brewing). These guys all come from different brewing backgrounds, and all of them provided great insight into the state of craft beer.
Best New Arrival
Plenty of great new beercentric places opened in 2014, but Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) took the concept of a growler filling station to an entirely new level when it opened in June. The spot doesn’t just have a great beer selection. The Growler Gallery has beers that you simply can’t get anywhere else. Beers like RAYley’s Comet IPA (see above) that are brewed specifically for Ray’s. It’s a great concept, and one that keeps the growler filling interesting.
Wednesday, Dec. 31: Pick a place for New Year’s Eve, but start at Romans’ Pub (3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) from 6 to 10 p.m. Mike is tapping a 2009 Weyerbacher Quad and a Hebrew Jewbelation 17.
Wednesday, Dec. 31: Stubby’s (2060 N. Humboldt Ave.) has an outstanding beer lineup for New Year’s Eve. Zombie Dust flows at 6 p.m., and at 8 p.m., Bourbon County Stout and the amazing Bourbon County Coffee Stout go on tap. Bottles of Founders KBS will also make an appearance. A special small-plate menu provides a base for these big beers.
Wednesday, Dec. 31: New Biers Eve at both Cafe Hollander locations (2608 N. Downer Ave. and 7677 W. State St., Wauwatosa) starts at 6 p.m. The event features a new beer every hour, food pairings and a complimentary midnight toast.
Saturday, Jan. 3: Try new arrival beers at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.) from 1 to 4 p.m.