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
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
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.
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.