Barley to Barrel, a new brewery incubator program, is launching in Milwaukee. Plus: visiting The Bruery in California, beer events to get you started on New Year's Eve and more.

The guys behind the Crafter Space are launching a brewery incubator program called Barley to Barrel. The program, which starts on Feb. 2, lasts 10 weeks and covers business plans, legal concerns, marketing, recipes, distribution and more. Company Brewing (735 E. Center St.) serves as home base for most of the weekly sessions and attendees get to brew a batch with the equipment at Company and release it on April 8.

This is a pretty cool program for budding brewers. Apply at for one of the ten spots. Email or for more information.


A Lucky Trip to The Bruery

I spent Christmas with family in Huntington Beach, Calif. As luck would have it, Huntington Beach is a short drive from Placentia, where The Bruery is located. The Bruery creates some amazing beers, and I was thrilled to get a chance to sample a few in the taproom with my brother and mother. Because of a slight mix up with our order, the friendly beer pourer let us choose samples from a portion of the massive beer menu reserved for special club members. The beer gods were generous. The exclusive list included gems like Chocolate Rain Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (see below) and Chronology:18 Barrel-Aged Old Ale. The taproom itself is moderately sized and was busy but not overcrowded. Even if you’re not a club member, the menu includes a few dozen amazing choices from an outstanding brewery. If you’re ever in southern California, try to make a stop.

CHOCOLATE_RAINBarley Pop of the Week

If Chocolate Rain isn’t the best beer I’ve had this year, it’s certainly in the conversation. The stout is aged in bourbon barrels and vanilla beans and cacao nibs are added. The result is a decadent brew that has huge flavors of both chocolate and vanilla. A hint of booze doesn’t take away from an amazing smoothness. The beer is truly world class and I’m thrilled that I was fortunate enough to sample some (I just wish I had some more).

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Quick Taps

I’m waiting until the bitter end of 2015 to post my list of my favorite beers of the year. So, look for it in next week’s post. I’ve come up with at least 20 that earn a mention.

Bernie’s Tap Room (351 W. Main St.) is hosting a small plates beer pairing with Founders Brewery on Jan. 14. But if you want to sample the four-course menu, you have to get a ticket by this Thursday. Tickets are $33.60. Call 262-548-9800 for more information.

The weekly Anheuser-Busch InBev craft brewery purchase last week was Breckenridge Brewery. Stay tuned, I’m guessing the big purchases will keep coming.

Events Brewing

Tuesday, Dec. 29: Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) is pouring all varieties of New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout. The taps open at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 30: Jim Haertel, who runs Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.), is choosing the beer list for the weekly Milwaukee Beer Society tasting from 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 31: Stubby’s (2060 N. Humboldt Blvd.) has some great stuff on the menu for New Year’s Eve. The food list includes lobster roll bites and smoked duck breast nachos. But the beer tappings are even better. Three Floyds Zombie Dust, Surly Darkness and Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail Heavy are just a few of the treats being tapped.

Thursday, Dec. 31: Stop by Romans’ Pub (3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) before heading out for festivities. Mike will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. and is tapping a 2012 Bell’s Expedition Imperial Stout, a New Holland Mischievous Wild Ale and the potent Dogfish Head Higher Math Golden Ale.

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Saturday, Jan. 2: Try new arrival beers at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.) from 1 to 4 p.m.