Trading rare bottles of beer is a great way to add to your “cellar” and obtain brews that you can’t get in Wisconsin from other beer aficionados who have done the legwork. National sites like CellarHQ.com are great, but trading is much easier when it’s done with local collectors. Nick Cusatis created MkeBeerExchange.com to help the cause. The site, launched in December, gives local craft beer fans a forum (called “The Trading Block”) to post beers that they are looking for or rarities that they have and want to trade.
“MCBE is meant to be a fun and social experience,” says Cusatis. “It’s not supposed to be like those awkward exchanges when you buy concert tickets on Craigslist. I encourage all MCBE users to make their exchanges in a social setting, talk about your beer journey with the person you’re trading with and have a laugh. After all, it’s all about the beer, right?”
New Orleans Brews
For the last three years, I’ve traveled to New Orleans to ring in the New Year, and the craft beer scene in NOLA has improved with each visit.
On this trip, I made the required stop at The Avenue Pub, one of the best beer bars in the country, for a three-hour stay. The highlight was the De Struise XXX Rye Tripel Reserva, a barrel-aged brew that was sweet, boozy and complex. Another standout was Wrought Iron IPA, not a rarity but a delicious new brew from Abita that combines big citrus flavor with moderate bitterness. Avenue has more than 40 taps and plenty of opportunity for experimentation. Case in point, the Limoncello IPA, a collaboration of Siren, Mikkeller and Hill Farmstead that mixes sweet lemon flavor with crisp hop bitterness.
There’s plenty to see in New Orleans, but if you love beer, the Avenue Pub is a must.
Barley Pop of the Week
Winter is the time for stouts, and Founders has a perfect one to take on any arctic blast. Big Lushious Imperial Stout is a decadent brew that combines rich roasted malt and chocolate flavor with a tasty hint of raspberry. It’s perfect for dessert or whenever you feel the need for a rich, sweet stout.
Beer resolutions for 2015? Draft Magazine has 10 good ones to choose from.
Apparently, a moderate amount of alcohol (0.075% to be exact) can increase your creativity.Problem Solver IPA includes an indicator on the bottle that helps you reach that peak level. Clever.
Wednesday, Jan. 7: The Milwaukee Beer Society samples Imperial Stouts from 6 to 9 p.m. at Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.). The cost has yet to be determined, but for big beers the likely $15 price is a bargain.
Thursday, Jan. 8: The monthly meeting of Barley’s Angels takes place at Stubby’s (2060 N. Humboldt Blvd.) and features Rich Heller from Goose Island. Cost is just $5 and the tasting starts at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 8: O’so Brewing is taking over the taps at Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) and introducing a new (and sounds like pretty outstanding) proprietary beer. Sour Wa Bourbon Barrel-Aged Belgian Strong Ale makes its debut and brings with it funky barrel-aged flavor and a warming 10% ABV. It’s probably a good idea to put this on the calendar.
Friday, Jan. 9: Hinterland brings some great samples to Discount Liquor Milwaukee(5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.) from 4 to 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 10: Try Hinterland brews from noon to 3 p.m. at Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.).
Saturday, Jan. 10: Hop bombs are the theme of the weekly tasting at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.) from 1 to 4 p.m.