Brew City: Black Friday Weekend

Why beer lovers love the days immediately following the big Tryptophan Coma.

Black Friday Weekend
Thanksgiving weekend is so much more fun when it involves limited-release beers. As far as I know – and I’m no historian nor did I feel like doing the research – the folks at Goose Island got the Black Friday ball rolling by releasing their coveted Bourbon County Stout on this glorious day years ago. Black Friday is still a big day for BCS, but it has evolved into a beer lover’s holiday. Raised Grain Brewing (2244 W. Bluemound Rd.) is tapping this year’s Santa’s Sack Christmas Ale along with a barrel from last year at noon. Try the festive spiced ales side by side. The Raised Grain food truck will be up and running to provide beer drinkers with a base. 


Here are a few more highlights, but consult with your favorite beer store to see what they have going on:


Friday, Nov. 25
The annual Lakefront Brewery release party officially starts at 8 a.m. when the doors open, but people will be in line hours before then. The reward is this year’s Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout. Lakefront is serving warm beverages and breakfast items at 6 a.m. to help combat the cold. Bombers of the black gold are $15 each, and there’s a three-bottle limit. The stout is also flowing from the tap lines on Friday morning, as is a cask-conditioned 2014 Black Friday.

After Lakefront, beer drinkers can walk up the street to Stubby’s (2060 N. Humboldt Ave.). The bar is open for brunch at 10 a.m. and at 11 a.m., Stubby’s is tapping Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Barleywine, Bourbon County Coffee and likely some more good stuff.

If you’re in the ’burbs, The Brass Tap (7808 W. Layton Ave.) is tapping its Bourbon County at 11 a.m. Don’t expect it to be there long.

Plenty of great breweries are slated to be on hand at the 5th Annual Black Friday Beerfest at the Harley-Davidson Museum (400 W. Canal St.) from 4 to 7 p.m. See the list of breweries on the events page. Tickets are $60 for VIP and $45 for general admission.


Saturday, Nov. 26
Ray’s Wine & Spirits (8930 W. North Ave., Tosa) is taking a low-key approach to the big beer shopping weekend. The theme of the day is “under-promised and over-delivered.” Those with a good spot in line when the doors open at 8 a.m. have a shot at a limited allotment of Bourbon County. But that’s not all they’ll have. There’s no lottery, no list of extremely rare bombers, but you can bet there will be some good stuff on the shelves.

Upstairs in Ray’s Growler Gallery, festivities start with Three Floyds Zombie Dust at 8 a.m. Scheduled tappings throughout the day include the extremely sought after Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Ten FIDY Imperial Stout and Founders Wizard of Koz Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout made with blueberries (I tried this beauty last week and it’s delicious, especially for those who like the fruit flavor to come through).


Quick Taps
A few bottles of Cantillon Kriek are sneaking into town. Ask your favorite beer seller if they have access to any, or stop by Ray’s to put your name in the hat.

Curious as to what others think of this year’s Bourbon County release? Paste Magazine has you covered.


Barley Pop of the Week
The tropical pale ale seems like a perfect escape for winter in the Midwest. Maybe that’s why a pair of Midwest breweries—Lakefront and Indiana’s Upland – have brewed up the style this month. Lakefront Warm Front is still on my list (it gets rave reviews by beer guru Tom “Grynder” Ciula), but I did get a chance to try Upland’s Latitude Adjustment last week. I like my pale ales fruity, and this one certainly is. Big tropical citrus flavor has plenty of grapefruit and adds a welcoming hint of coconut at the finish. It’s a deliciously summery concoction.


Events Brewing
Tuesday, Nov. 22: Milwaukee Brewing heads to The Malt Shoppe (813 N. Mayfair Rd.) to hand out a few samples and pour from a few taps.

Wednesday, Nov. 23: Try flights of delicious New Holland Dragon’s Milk barrel-aged stouts at The Brass Tap starting at 5 p.m. Bring a non-perishable food item for the Hunger Task Force for a chance to win free swag.

Wednesday, Nov. 23: The Milwaukee Beer Society hosts a Thanksgiving bottle share at Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.) starting at 6 p.m. Bring a rare or cellared bottle and you can join in the fun.

Wednesday, Nov. 23: The Corner Pub (7602 W. Lisbon Ave.) hosts Harpoon from 7 to 9 p.m. Try a few brews from New England.

Wednesday, Nov. 23: Draft & Vessel (4417 N. Oakland Ave.) taps a keg of the delicious Central Waters Cassian Sunset Barrel-Aged Stout.

Friday, Nov. 25: Sample beers from New Holland at Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.) from 3 to 5 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 26: Sipping beers for Thanksgiving 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.

Saturday, Nov. 26: Try New Holland brews at Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.) from 3 to 5 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 26: Uber Tap Room (1048 N. Old World Third St.) hosts its fourth annual Barley and Whey Festival from noon to 6 p.m. You can sample local beers, cheeses and sausages without paying for entry. The event is free but requires registration.

Sunday, Nov. 27: Sugar Maple (441 E. Lincoln Ave.) brings in Brewery Series All Stars like Black Husky, Central Waters, Founders, Dark Horse and Dogfish Head from 4 to 10 p.m. Try five samples for just $15. 




Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 15 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for close to 25.