What could be (should be?) in store for local beer lovers in 2017, plus a visit to Aman's Beer + Wine in Wind Lake and a barleywine worth sipping.
2017 Beer Wishes
I’m not big on making predictions for the new year (largely because I’m usually wrong). But there are plenty of things that I’d like to see happen in the beer world in 2017.
- More quality breweries opening in Milwaukee. I don’t see this as too much of a stretch with breweries like Explorium Brewpub, Westallion, The Gathering Place and Broken Bat in the works.
- The rise of New England-style IPAs from brewers that aren’t in the northeast. The hazy and juicy fruit brews are all the rage. I’d love to see a few Midwest breweries start doing this style really well.
- Exciting limited releases from local breweries. Lakefront’s annual Black Friday event draws hundreds of craft beer fans and creates plenty of buzz. It was great to see people line up for Good City’s unveiling of Barrel-Aged Density Imperial Stout in December, and places like Biloba and Raised Grain had some popular release events too. I’d love to see more of that kind of excitement around special local brews.
- Medals and national recognition for local breweries. Raised Grain took home an impressive gold medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival, Milwaukee Brewing and Lakefront both earned recognition at FOBAB (Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer), and Sprecher had a big day at the U.S. Open Beer Championship. It would be great to see this trend continue.
- Milwaukee earning the reputation as a destination beer city. If some of the above wishes come true, then this shouldn’t be too difficult. The fact that Milwaukee is hosting the 2017 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference can’t hurt with publicity.
A Visit to Aman’s
It’s a hike to get to Wind Lake, but Aman’s Beer + Wine (26210 W. Loomis Rd.) is worth the trip. I’ve heard great things about Aman’s – which moved into a sleek new building a few months ago – from beer aficionados that I trust. Aman’s has a couple of aisles filled with hundreds of different domestic and imported beers. The varied selection takes plenty of time to thoroughly browse, and that’s a good thing. A stack of Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout caught my eye and I made sure to grab a four-pack.
Barley Pop of the Week
I don’t always appreciate barleywine because the malty sweetness can be too much. The Bruery Mash & Vanilla is sweet, but bourbon-barrel aging and the addition of vanilla beans give the barleywine outstanding complexity. Mash & Vanilla has an ABV of 13.3%, which makes it a nice slow sipper. The Bruery never disappoints.
Wednesday, Jan. 4: The Milwaukee Beer Society hosts a blind beer tasting at Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.) from 6 to 9 p.m. Try 10 different beers without knowing what they are.
Wednesday, Jan. 4: Bell’s takes over the taps at Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa)
Thursday, Jan. 5: Try samples from Harpoon at Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 5: The group from Barley’s Angels heads to Urban Harvest Brewing (1024 S. Fifth St.) for the January meeting. Social hour starts at 6 p.m. and tasting begins at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 7: New arrival beers are the subject of the weekly sampling at both Three Cellars locations (7133 S. 76th St., Franklin; N72 W13400 Lund Lane, Menomonee Falls) from 1 to 4 p.m.