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It was a busy weekend for major beer events, and Milwaukee played the role of a perfect host.

Milwaukee sure felt like the center of the beer universe over the weekend. Two big events gave Milwaukee a chance to show off its beer chops, and the Brew City did so in a big way.

Wisconsin IPA Fest
Andy Gehl holding a trophy

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

On Saturday, Third Space Brewing hosted the inaugural statewide IPA competition and had entries from more than 30 breweries. I was fortunate enough to join 30 or so brewers, a few beer store owners and a handful of beer writers to judge the entries. Third Space brewer Kevin Wright and co-owner Andy Gehl ran a great event and drew a sizable crowd that came for the chance to spend an afternoon of IPA sampling.
After a couple of hours of tasting, the winners were announced.

  • First: Lakefront Single Hop Centennial
  • Second: Third Space Upward Spiral
  • Third: Vintage Monsasaur
  • People’s Choice (voted on by the public): Raised Grain Naked Threesome
  • First Keg to Kick: Lion’s Tail Juice Cloud

The event was a pretty amazing showing by some of Wisconsin’s standout breweries, and the samples I tried from Neenah’s Lion’s Tail Brewery were outstanding. (Brewery rep Eric Henzel opened a few barrel-aged beauties after the judging.) After hanging out with this group for an afternoon, it was clear that the brewing industry here is in great shape.

Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference
Pabst Milwaukee Brewery

Beer bloggers and writers visit Pabst Milwaukee Brewery.

I made it to a few of the events at the conference, which was attended by people from all around the country, and was decidedly impressed. Sessions on Friday included a panel discussion about the state of beer in Wisconsin and a tasting demonstration by beer guru Randy Mosher.

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Saturday, after spending the afternoon at Wisconsin IPA Fest, I joined the conference for dinner at Good City Brewing. The second floor outside deck was a hit with the group and so was the beer. Cheers to owners Andy Jones, Dan Katt and Dave Dupee for hosting a great event. Kudos also goes to Mike Brenner, who hosted the final event of the night at Brenner Brewing. The brewery poured plenty of samples, including the delicious Witchcraft Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. From what I could gather, the 130-plus attendees of the conference left with a great impression of Milwaukee.

It was a great weekend for beer lovers. I’m just glad that this much activity is a rarity. I couldn’t handle much more.

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