The Kohler Festival Kills It

The Kohler Festival of Beer throws down some serious fare, including an uncommonly good chocolate porter. Plus: 3 Sheeps’ rise from Sheboygan.

The Kohler Festival of Beer knows how to do things. It’s not just one three-hour tasting, it’s a weekend full of beer-related events, mostly at The Shops at Woodlake. I took the trip to Kohler on Saturday to check it out.


I loved Shorts and Chefs, where area chefs paired delicious small bites with beer. There were no amazingly rare brews on hand but a solid selection (the FFMPH Imperial IPA from 8th Street Ale Haus was a delicious highlight) to wash down some outstanding food. I indulged on an outstanding steak sandwich from The Horse & Plow, a delectable braised lamb Irish stew from Whistling Straits, and a pork belly slider with Asian Slaw from The Wicked Grille. The event was as much about the food as it was the beer, and by the end there were no swerving overserved fest goers—a good thing.


The highlight was a chocolate and beer pairing at Craverie Chocolatier Café hosted by Kohler head chocolatier Anette Righi DeFendi and Central Waters frontman Anello Mollica. The four chocolates offered to two dozen attendees were unbelievably good, and Mollica didn’t hold back with the beers, highlighted by the outstanding Cassian Sunset Imperial Stout and Rye Barrel Chocolate Porter (see below). Both presenters were extremely personable and offered great insight into their craft. It was simply an amazing experience (and further justification in my opinion that Central Waters easily has one of the best barrel aging programs in the world).


The events at the fest were well thought out and about much more than guzzling free brews. It’s a beer fest for the refined. I’ll be back.


Brewer of the Month: Grant Pauly of 3 Sheeps


Grant Pauly (photo courtesy of Beth O'Reilly)
Grant Pauly (photo courtesy of Beth O’Reilly)





I took a trip to the new 3 Sheeps taproom in Sheboygan on Saturday. The 10,000-square-foot space features 16 different 3 Sheeps brews and has been bustling since opening in late April. It’s all part of an expansion that will increase the brewery’s output and give Pauly more creative freedom.


I really like the things that brewer Grant Pauly is doing at 3 Sheeps, and I’m apparently not the only one. Look for this brewery to do some pretty big things in the near future.


A few thoughts from Pauly:


  • “This has far exceeded anything that I could have hope for. When I started this four years ago, I really thought it would be a one- or two-person show for a while and maybe we’d take care of the local community. In the first year we snuck throughout Wisconsin, and in the second year we launched in Illinois. Moving into this space was not in the original business plan.”
  • “We get calls from distributors in different states that express interest in bringing us in. One of the things I wanted to make sure we never did was not be able to produce beer for the states we’re in.”
  • “When I knew we were going to have to go into a new location, there was a never a doubt in my mind that we’d still be in Sheboygan. It’s a great town. We’ve had great support from the government and the people. They got us going.”



Barley Pop of the Week


I apologize for the fact that Central Waters Rye Barrel Chocolate Porter is really difficult to find, but I have to mention it because it is just that good. Chocolate flavor is there, but not overpowering and the rye barrel aging comes through with a touch of heat. It’s just rich enough and not overpowering. Basically, it’s well crafted and pretty amazing. If you see a bottle, definitely pick one up and consider yourself very lucky. Note: As of Sunday, Champps Americana (1240 S. Moorland Rd.) had it on tap.



Quick Taps

It’s more than a little bit awesome that Milwaukee Brewing head brewer Kurt Mayes checks in on Untappd while drinking all sorts of beers that he doesn’t brew. Cheers to the craft beer community.


I mentioned the addition of Fun Beer Tours Milwaukee to the beer scene a couple of weeks ago. Last week, Madison’s Hop Head Beer Tours announced expansion into Milwaukee. Look for tours starting in June. I’ll have more, and a talk with one of the guys behind Hop Head, next week.


Mark the calendar for Thursday, May 19. That’s when Tess (2499 N. Bartlett Ave.) hosts a beer dinner with Bear Republic Brewing. The five-course dinner is $56 per person and reservations can be made by calling 414-964-8377. Beer dinners at Tess tend to sell out, hence the early notification.



Events Brewing


Tuesday, May 3 – This is an awesome event. Comet Café (1947 N. Farwell Ave.) hosts Beer School #125: The Great IPA Blind Taste starting at 7 p.m. If you want to test your tasting skills be sure to make a reservation by calling 414-273-7677.


Wednesday, May 4 – Bierklasse at Café Hollander (7677 W. State St.) honors beers named after, or brewed by, great women. Cost is $30 and the tasting starts at 7 p.m. Head to to reserve a spot.


Wednesday, May 4 – Milwaukee Beer Society hosts a bottle share at Lee’s Luxury Lounge (2988 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) from 6 to 9 p.m. Bring a limited, rare or otherwise hard-to-find bomber. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the Bay View Community Center, so bring a cash donation or something from the center’s wish list.


Wednesday, May 4 – Rush River is bringing some treats (including two barrel-aged brews) to Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) at 5 p.m.


Thursday, May 5 – At 5 p.m., Draft & Vessel (4417 N. Oakland Ave.) relinquishes its taps to Lakefront Brewing and will be pouring SMaSH Ale, Bridge Burner, My Turn: Todd Quad, Growing Power Organic Farmhouse Pale Ale and more.


Thursday, May 5 – In honor of Cinco de Mayo, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria is taking over the taps at Finks (1875 N. Humboldt Ave.) starting at 7 p.m. I hear from Phil Kuhl, BreakThru beverage beer guru, that the tap list is going to be outstanding and have a rarity or two.


Thursday, May 5 – Barley’s Angels is getting creative with its monthly meeting. The group heads to Bay View Printing Co. (2702 S. Howell Ave.) for Drink & Ink at 6 p.m. Attendees get to create some cool letterpress posters. The cost is $30 (and a few beers to share) but space is limited. Secure your spot.


Thursday, May 5 – The Humboldt Park beer garden (3000 S. Howell Ave.) opens with free beer starting at 6 p.m., which certainly means that summer is around the corner. Oh yeah, there’s also a pig roast.


Friday, May 6 – Lakefront takes over the taps at the newly opened Humboldt Park beer garden.


Saturday, May 7 – Beers for mom 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, May 7 – Appropriately, The Brass Tap (7808 W. Layton Ave.) has Lexington Brewing taking over some taps on the day of the Kentucky Derby. Get into the race day spirit with an over-the-top hat or outfit and you can win a prize.



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 20 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for a few years more.