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The inaugural Wisconsin IPA Fest last summer was one of the best beer events of 2017. It’s back and bigger in 2018 as the highlight of the second annual Drink Brew City Week, which starts on Thursday, July 26, and runs until Sunday, Aug. 5.

IPA Fest caps off a busy run of beer events, sponsored by the Milwaukee Craft Brewery League, that give local breweries the well-deserved spotlight. The fun starts on Thursday with the Drink Brew City Collaboration Crawl and ends on Sunday, Aug. 5, with the Project Terroir Beer Fest at D14 Brewery and Pub (2273 S. Howell Ave.).

The “week” is an 11-day celebration of what craft beer truly is, put on by the brewers themselves. The full schedule of events wouldn’t have had quite as much pull more than two years ago when a significant number of the participants didn’t exist or were in their infancy.

“[The local beer scene] has changed quite a bit,” said Henry Schwartz, co-founder of MobCraft Beer. “We have a few breweries that have gone out of business since last year, but even more that have opened up. The kinds of events we’re doing are way more creative than your standard tap takeover, and should all be super fun.”

Indeed, it’s a a list of happenings that includes Wiffle ball and cribbage tournaments, friendly brewing competition and bar crawls that involve draining kegs.

“I think it is going to be a blast the second time around, and we expect the events to be even better attended,” explained Andy Gehl, co-founder of Third Space Brewing. “Our group of brewers is more organized now and we have some really fun and creative events planned. If people love craft beer, they are going to have a great 11 days. Hopefully everyone can keep up and save some energy for IPA Fest at the end.”

Back to the big event, Wisconsin IPA Fest. On Saturday, Aug. 4, breweries from all over the state of Wisconsin bring their best IPAs to Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.). They’ll be judged by other brewers in a blind tasting and one will be crowned as the best in Wisconsin. The beauty of all of this is that, starting at noon, the public benefits by being able to sample 4-ounce pours of all of the hoppy goodness for $2 each, without an admission fee. A limited number of VIP tickets get you in an hour early at 11 a.m. and give you access to a few limited brews. Cost for VIP entry is $30.

Third Space co-owner Andy Gehl prepares to present the coveted Wisconsin IPA Fest traveling trophy in 2017.

Last year, Lakefront Brewery took home the coveted Wisconsin IPA Fest trophy, which resembles a fermentation tank, with its Single Hop Centennial IPA. Will a more traditional take on the style win again this year, or will a trendier, hazier concoction claim the trophy? Head to Third Space next Saturday to find out.

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“Wisconsin IPA Fest is my favorite event of the year,” said Gehl. “Last year was a huge hit, and it ran so smoothly. We’ve added 11 additional breweries — we are now at 48, including a few that may be surprises to people. Breweries like New Glarus and Miller Valley will both be joining us this year. My favorite part about the event, though, is the camaraderie among the breweries and the brewers. Sure, the event is part competition, but it’s a friendly competition. IPA Fest is truly about showcasing the great hoppy beers being made throughout this state. It’s a chance to celebrate Wisconsin-made beer and a chance for the brewers to gather and have some fun together and with the public.”

Drink Brew City Events

There’s a full slate scheduled for Drink Brew City Week. Keep an eye on the events page for more details.

Thursday, July 26
Drink Brew City Collab Crawl
Various locations, 6 p.m.
Free shuttle buses allow for easy access to Lakefront, Gathering Place, Sprecher, Eagle Park, Company and Bavarian Bierhaus.

Friday, July 27
Keg Killer Pub Crawl Series
Third Ward, Bay View and Brady Street, 7 p.m.
Start at a specific location in one of three neighborhoods, finish a keg and move on.

Saturday, July 28
Milwaukee Brewfest
McKinley Park (1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.), 3 p.m.
A large beer fest with a lakefront location that can’t be beat.

Sunday, July 29
Wiffle Ball Tournament
Hart Park (7300 W. Chesnut St.), 12:30 p.m.
Wiffle ball teams play for a $100 cash prize and free beer.

Monday, July 30
Risk, Reward and Red Tape
Explorium Brewpub (5300 S. 76th St.) , 6:30 p.m.
Find out how challenging it is to succeed in the craft brewing business.

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Tuesday, July 31
Cribbage Tournament
Bavarian Bierhaus (700 W. Lexington Blvd.), 6 p.m.
What’s a good beer week without a spirited card game or two?

Wednesday, August 1
Homebrew Day
Humboldt Park (3000 S. Howell Ave.), 2 p.m.
Learn how to brew like the pros.

Thursday, August 2
Drink Brew City Tap Takeovers
Rumpus Room (1030 N. Water St.), Sugar Maple (441 E. Lincoln Ave.) and Hale House (10539 W. Forest Home Ave.), 6 p.m.
Sample some of what the local brewers have to offer.

Friday, August 3
Eagle Park Brew & Food Fest
Eagle Park Brewing Co. (823 E. Hamilton St.), 6 p.m.
Sample food and brews from breweries around town.

Saturday, August 4
Wisconsin IPA Fest
Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.), 12 p.m.
Discover who makes the best IPA in the great state of Wisconsin.

Sunday, August 5
Project Terroir Beer Fest
D14 Brewery and Pub (2273 S. Howell Ave.), 1 p.m.
Local breweries see who can brew the best beer using the same ingredients. A nice wrap up to a great slate of events.

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