Fifty breweries from across Wisconsin are converging on Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) this weekend and they’re bringing their best IPAs with them. The fifth Wisconsin IPA Fest gives craft beer fans a chance to try standouts of the style from all over the state. The event is Saturday (Aug. 28) and runs from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets, and a full list of beers, are available on Third Space’s Eventbrite page.
Submissions are judged by a blind panel of brewers and a few other craft beer aficionados. The winner gets the extremely coveted Wisconsin IPA Fest Trophy. Attendees of the fest also get a chance to vote and determine the People’s Choice winner.
This year’s fest is a little different. Participating breweries aren’t just bringing a single IPA. They’re each allowed to bring three or for beers to share, including one that isn’t an IPA.
“I’m excited we have so many breweries coming this year from across the state,” said Third Space co-founder Andy Gehl. “One of our goals every year has been to really showcase the full map of Wisconsin with our breweries in attendance. This year, we’ve really achieved that with breweries like Earth Rider from Superior, Oliphant from Somerset, Driftless from Soldiers Grove, Lazy Monk from Eau Claire and Rocky Reef from Minoqua (all new breweries to the event), along with many other great breweries from further away places.”
The fest started in 2017 as a fun way to highlight the IPAs being made in Wisconsin. Lakefront Brewing claimed first place that year with a fairly traditional Centennial IPA. Winners have skewed hazy as of late.
“The most interesting thing to me has been the rapid rise of Hazy IPAs in the mix at IPA Fest,” said Gehl. “We all know that style continues to be trending but I was surprised in 2019 how many Hazy IPAs were on that list and that the top three winners all fell in that category. Whereas, in 2017 there were maybe four hazies in the whole lineup of 36 beers. The good news there, though, is that Hazy IPAs tend to be more approachable to the typical non-IPA drinker so they have brought many more people into the IPA camp.”
The long list of participants and beers is impressive. But there are a few pours I’d suggest making sure you get a sample of.
Frisco to Wisco: 1840 Brewing Company
1840 just released this beer to the public a couple of weeks ago. It’s a West Coast IPA (yay!) made with Mosaic, Simcoe and Idaho 7 hops.
All Work, No Play: New Barons Brewing Cooperative
Another West Coast IPA that retains a hoppy bite.
Bobby Lotus: Central Waters Brewing Company
A hazy IPA (that includes some Lotus hops) named after Bucks fan favorite Bobby Portis. That’s reason enough to be excited.
Blue Magic: Faklandia Brewing
Faklandia is new to the fest and they aren’t being bashful with the submission of this IPA made with blueberries.
Jamaican Haze: Hinterland Brewing
A hazy IPA made with Sabro hops that combines flavors of tangerine, coconut, mint and tropical citrus.
Tall Mast: McFleshman’s Brewing
An old school English IPA with a big malt backbone. Hazy fans should give this one a try to learn where IPAs came from.
Scream: New Glarus Brewing
If you haven’t tried this fantastic Imperial IPA, do yourself a favor. I’m a firm believer that when it’s fresh, it’s one of the best IPAs anywhere. There’s buzz about its tweaked recipe this year.
Aroma Champion: Third Space Brewing/Raised Grain Brewing
This collaboration, between two locals who are pretty good at the whole IPA thing, is big on tropical fruit aroma. It will be available in the Third Space taproom during the fest.