The HOPE Project Will Brew a Stout for a Post-Pandemic Party

We’re all looking forward to the day when we can raise a glass to the end of the pandemic in a crowded bar. Explorium Brewpub has a perfect plan for what should be in that glass.

The HOPE (Here’s One for the Pandemic Ending) Project is inviting area craft brewers and Wisconsin spirit makers to collaborate on creating a big tasty stout. Brewing day will be at The Explorium Brewpub Third Ward (143 W. St. Paul Ave.) on Jan. 5 from a recipe provided a couple of weeks before. Breweries and distilleries that want to participate should fill out this online form.

“As I talk to guests, everybody is obviously sick of what’s going on,” said Explorium owner Mike Doble, who added that he reminds himself and his guests that this will pass. “You know when this does pass, it will be a big party in the street. What would be cooler than if brewers and distilleries got together for a massive collaboration so that we could all raise a toast?”

A month or so after brewing, the beer will be put into various spirit barrels from Wisconsin distilleries who sign up. The barrels will reside at The Explorium and age gracefully until the end of the pandemic.

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A large part of the fun is not knowing exactly what types of barrels will be part of the process. For example, imagine the melding of stout with hints of anise and caraway from State Line Distillery aquavit barrels.

“My hope is that we can blend some of these different flavors together and create some cool creations based on some of the barrels provided,” added Doble.

After the “all clear” has been sounded, the stout will be kegged for the participants to serve on the not-yet-determined HOPE Day, which we all hope comes sooner rather than later.

“There are a lot of people in this industry suffering right now — staff is laid off, in-taproom sales are down,” said Doble. “My hope was to bring everyone together and share a message of positivity. With news of a vaccine, the end seems possible. There was never a clear picture of when that would pass. (Hopefully) in the next six months it can be done and we can get back to business as normal.”



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 20 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for a few years more.