Brew City: Wintering With Beer, and There’s Love in the Brewing Air

Plus several launch parties for the big-deal Milwaukee arrival of Chicago’s Half Acre Beer Company.

Drinking Michigan Brews in Michigan
While plenty of you headed to Amherst for the Central Waters anniversary shindig, I went the opposite way to St. Joseph, Michigan. St. Joe Winter Beer Fest was held downtown in a large tent overlooking Lake Michigan. Big breweries like Bell’s and Founders were there (and both brought great stuff), but where the event really succeeded was by offering the chance to compare a dozen or so smaller Michigan breweries. Local breweries like The Livery, Cultivate, Silver Harbor, Round Barn, North Pier, Arclight, Watermark and Greenbush were there, as were a few like Shorts, Blackrocks, Dark Horse and Right Brain that made the trip from a few hours away.

The fest wasn’t a big one and that added to its charm. I’d love to see something similar pop up in Milwaukee with all of the new local breweries represented. Don’t get me wrong, the Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival is a fantastic Wisconsin-only event, but it would be cool to have a smaller gathering of Milwaukee breweries.


Half Acre Events
As I mentioned last week, Chicago’s Half Acre Beer Company is bringing its brews to town and several local establishments are hosting launch parties. Staples like Daisy Cutter Pale Ale and Gone Away IPA should be at each, but expect to see a few rarities as well.

Here’s the schedule (each event starts at 4 p.m.):

Tuesday, Jan. 31: Champps Americana (1240 S. Moorland Rd.) is pouring eight different Half Acre taps including Benthic Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (don’t expect to see that anywhere else).

Wednesday, Feb. 1: The Brass Tap (7808 W. Layton Ave.) has a similar Half Acre lineup pouring from its taps. Try the Chocolate Camaro Milk Stout.

Wednesday, Feb. 1: Sugar Maple (441 E. Lincoln Ave.) has a few pours including a Gin Barrel-Aged Pony Pilsner.

Wednesday, Feb. 1: The highlight at Palm Tavern (2989 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) is Orin Strong Ale.

Thursday, Feb. 2: ABV Social (11200 W. Burleigh St.) is pouring a full lineup as well. If you haven’t tried Barrel-Aged Big Hugs by Thursday, stop at this launch party.


Mitten Fest
One of the best excuses to venture outside this winter is happening on Saturday. The annual Mitten Fest runs from noon to 8 p.m. at Burnhearts (2599 S. Logan Ave.), and it’s worth going to. Bring non-perishable food items and winter clothing to donate to the Hunger Task Force and prepare to imbibe on an outstanding (and rare) list of beers. The list includes several barrel-aged rarities from Central Waters – like Black Gold, Cassian Sunset, oh my – and some gems from Founders including some KBS varieties and the barrel-aged Frootwood Cherry Ale. Check out the Facebook page for more details. Dress warmly, and expect to have a good time.


Barley Pop of the Week
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Stone Enjoy by 2.14.17 Chocolate and Coffee IPA. It’s certainly an odd mix for an IPA, but it actually works pretty well. A hint of dark chocolate gives the golden brew some of the malty flavor of a black IPA. Chocolate and coffee flavors are both subtle additions to an IPA made by a brewery that knows how to make them.


Quick Taps
An interesting writeup on beer tasting from Andy Sparhawk at

Check out Paste Magazine’s list of the best imperial stouts that aren’t barrel aged. High marks for Surly Darkness.


Events Brewing
Tuesday, Jan. 31: Sierra Nevada hands out samples at The Malt Shoppe (813 N. Mayfair Rd.) starting at 5 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 31: Sales of tickets for the New Brewers Beer Dinner at ABV Social (11200 W. Burleigh St.) featuring Good City, Third Space, Black Husky, Raised Grain and Enlightened stopped last week. But call 414-837-6290 to see if there’s space for this great event, which starts at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 1: Titletown Brewing Company takes over the taps at Draft & Vessel (4417 N. Oakland Ave.) at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 1: Head to City Lights Brewing (2200 Mt. Vernon St.) because, well because they’re open.

Wednesday, Feb. 1: Milwaukee’s Bavarian Bierhaus takes over the taps at Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) at 5 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 2: Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) hosts a Groundhog Day party.  Save $1 on taps of either That’s Gold! Kolsch (if our furry friend doesn’t see his shadow) or Acres Edge Oatmeal Stout (if he does). And, the brewery is showing Groundhog Day, the classic Bill Murray movie, on repeat. Bing!

Thursday, Feb. 2: Half Acre pours samples at both Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.) and Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W.  Oklahoma Ave.) from 4 to 6 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 3: Discount Liquor Milwaukee has Goose Island samples on hand from 4 to 6 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 3: Try brews from Guinness at Discount Liquor Waukesha from 4 to 6 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 4: Goose Island heads to Discount Liquor Waukesha from noon to 2 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 4: Big beers are the subject of the weekly sampling at both Three Cellars locations (7133 S. 76th St., Franklin and N72 W13400 Lund Lane, Menomonee Falls) from 1 to 4 p.m.




Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 20 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for a few years more.