Limited beer releases at good breweries are holidays for craft beer fans. Lines form well before the brewery opens giving aficionados plenty of time to discuss significant topics like which year’s batch of Dark Lord is the best or how Pliny the Younger compares to a really fresh Heady Topper.
It’s also a great time to drum up excitement for the brewery and the local beer scene. Until recently, Lakefront Brewery’s annual Black Friday release on the day after Thanksgiving cornered the market. But that’s not the case anymore.
This weekend, Milwaukee is host to limited releases at three local breweries. It’s a scheduling quirk that should make for a lot of happy beer drinkers. Here’s the rundown:
Friday, Sept. 22
Raised Grain Brewing (2244 W. Bluemound Rd.) host its third big release in the brewery’s two-year history with Double Dry Hopped Naked Threesome IPA at 3 p.m. The first was the excellent Batch No. 100 Imperial Stout in February and Les Trois Docteurs Belgian Quad in March.
“The responses to both have been incredible,” said Raised Grain’s Alex Stanton. “For the first one we had absolutely no idea what to expect and just hoped that some people showed up for it. But word definitely got out about it. The line began to build quickly, especially about an hour before the release at 10, and almost reached down to Bluemound road from the front door. It was so exciting to see. For both limited releases, we went through all of the bottles we had in under an hour and a half.”
Saturday, Sept. 23
Good City Brewing (2108 N. Farwell Ave.) releases Santé Saison, aged in Chardonnay barrels, at 10 a.m. Good City has a history with limited brews that started with the amazing bourbon barrel-aged Density Imperial Stout and was followed with rye barrel-aged Lord Lyon Scotch Ale and bourbon barrel-aged Detail Porter. Good City also released cans of Dr. J IPA at their one-year anniversary party in June.
“These limited releases have been a big hit and correspond with some of the best days we’ve had in the taproom,” said Good City co-owner David Dupee. “It’s fun to create a unique experience around the release where we open both the taproom and kitchen early and feature special food offerings.”
Like Minds Brewing (823 E. Hamilton St.) caps off five consecutive weeks of limited releases with Quince D’Or, a 20-month barrel-aged sour golden ale with quince, which goes on sale at noon. The brewery specializes in small batches and is capitalizing on that expertise with barrel-aged bottle sales every Saturday.
“Limited releases have been going well so far,” said Like Minds brewer John Lavelle. “We’ve sold through nearly all of the beers we released and are planning to continue to do the release calendar. On top of everything else, it’s a lot of fun for us. From a brewer’s perspective I will say that I like doing it because it allows you to push the envelope while only sharing it with some of your best supporters. It also allows us to try different flavor combinations and ingredients on a way smaller scale.”
Thankfully, each of these is scheduled perfectly so that if you’re willing to put in the effort (and likely spend some time in line) you can snag all three. It’s an exciting beer weekend in Milwaukee, and one that wouldn’t have happened even two years ago before the local craft beer community expanded significantly.
“Overall I think these types of releases appeal to the craft beer drinker’s interest in exploration,” said Dupee. “While beer drinkers’ palates and style preferences are expanding, their attention span is shrinking. They want to try new offerings and frankly we want to brew them. (Head brewer Andy Jones) loves the challenge and creativity that goes into brewing a new beer or putting a base beer into barrels.”