Of Course Milwaukee’s Going to Have a Virtual Beer Festival

Lager & Friends had been scheduled for March, but now it’s going online with presentations by brewers, virtual “prost!”s and a collaboration beer you can pick up in Riverwest.

A beer event canceled last month is going online later in May in what’s being billed as Milwaukee’s first virtual beer festival.

Lager & Friends was supposed to happen March 21, the first weekend after Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order to protect Wisconsinites from the coronavirus. The inaugural event the previous spring was a lager lover’s dream, with 20 or so breweries bringing their wares to Turner Hall, including a handful renowned lager brewers that don’t normally sell their beer in Wisconsin.

“The new virtual format stays true to the vision of the original festival: to create a unique and engaging experience for attendees to enjoy great lager beer while interacting with brewers from around the country,” says organizer Joe Yeado, owner of Gathering Place Brewing in Riverwest. “We feel that, given the circumstances, this is the best way to provide the engaging lager experience that everyone has come to love in a safe and responsible manner.”

The new event, which will be free and open to anyone, will take place from 2-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 30 on a platform to be determined. It will feature panel discussions, virtual brewery tours and demonstrations that had been planned for the physical festival. This will be Milwaukee’s first virtual beer festival. 

The centerpiece of the virtual Lager & Friends is three 35-minute panel discussions:

  • Lager is Life: Why lager is special and why brewers choose to make them

  • Brewing Better Lagers: technical aspects of lager brewing

  • Lager in a Hazy World: business challenges of making and selling lager

But the key part of a beer festival is drinking beer, right? Lager & Friends has you covered there, too. A special collaboration beer brewed for the festival has been canned and is available for sale from the Gathering Place taproom ahead of the festival.

It’s a landbier, a term loosely applied to country-style lagers usually made in Germany, by collaborators Gathering Place, Lakefront Brewery, Black Husky Brewing and Company Brewing, aka the handle Riverwest Brewing Syndicate. The $15 “festival bundle” includes a four-pack of the 16-ounce cans and tasting glass that is 10 ounces, making quite a bit more useful than the usual festival glass. 

Would-be festivalgoers can stay in touch with festival and join in on May 30 on the Lager & Friends website

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Executive editor, Milwaukee Magazine. Aficionado of news, sports and beer. Dog and cat guy. (Yes, both.)