Like Minds Brewing has been on a wild ride, but brewer/owner John Lavelle has a smart plan in place that local beer aficionados will love.
I’m a big fan of limited releases from local breweries. As evidenced by wildly popular Lakefront Black Friday events, recent Raised Grain bottle releases and a barrel-aged event or two at Good City Brewing, local beer drinkers are more than happy to show up in droves for quality rarities.
That kind of excitement is good for the entire Milwaukee beer community.
That’s why I was thrilled when Like Minds Brewing (823 E. Hamilton St.) announced on Tuesday its plans for a series of limited bottle releases of aged sours and wild ales that the space has become known for. Adding to the intrigue, Lavelle is encouraging a bottle share during each event.
“We decided to go this route a while ago,” explained Lavelle. “We have a number of very small batch beers that we’ve been working on for the past 18 to 20 months. Most of these beers are only 3 to 5 wine barrels. As we’ve been working on these, they have been coming together at the same time. This wasn’t an accident. We were hoping this would happen.”
The fun starts this Saturday, August 26, with Cherry Blueberry, an 18-month sour saison with Door County cherries and Michigan blueberries, and A. Nouveau, a blend of 16-month and 6-month sour saisons. There are just 500 bottles available of each and the limit is one case per customer.
Here’s the weekly schedule of enticing releases on the calendar so far.
- September 2: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Quad aged in Heaven Hill barrels. $25 per bottle.
- September 9: Lemon Blueberry, a funky and oaky brew made with Florida citrus and Michigan blueberries. $25 per bottle.
- September 16: Rhubarb with Strawberry, a tart brew with a noticeable rhubarb flavor. $25 per bottle.
- September 23: Quince D’Or, a 20-month sour barrel-aged golden ale with locally sourced quince. $25 per bottle.
The plan for Like Minds is to continue this pattern for the foreseeable future.
“We have enough beers finished and finishing to continue regular releases like these for the next six months,” added Lavelle. “Our hope is that at six months, some of the beers that are currently maturing will allow us to continue doing these kinds of releases. My ideal scenario is that we’ll have a long list of the releases available at the taproom for people to check out.”
It’s been a wild ride for Like Minds. When it opened in Milwaukee in October 2016 (after a well-publicized beginning in Chicago) the brewery had the unique hook of being able to pair quality beers with a top-notch menu from James Beard Award-winner Justin Aprahamian. Unfortunately, in late 2016, Aprahamian left the business. A few months later Like Minds dropped its food menu altogether. A move like that would have likely ended a brewery with an average product, but Lavelle makes good beer, highlighted by the excellent sour/wild ales program.
For example, Marron Peche, a barrel-aged sour brown ale infused with peaches, earned a rave review when it was released this spring from Josh Noel, a knowledgeable Chicago Tribune beer writer. Noel referred to the beer as “impossibly elegant but eminently drinkable.”
Sours and wild ales aren’t easy to brew, and barrel-aged beers take time before they reach their potential. It appears that Lavelle’s patience is about to pay off.