I’ve been re-Tweeting “best of” beer lists a lot lately and figured it was time I made my own awards. With that being said, here they are.
MOMMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT
WARPED SPEED SCOTCH ALE
The Warped Speed Scotch Ale is one of those beers that not only taste great every time, but one which also really packs a punch. It has been a staple of my diet for a few years now and I suggest it at work to patrons who “don’t have to do anything for the rest of the day”. Brewmaster Tom Porter easily could have won awards for “Nicest Guy in Wisconsin Brewing” or “Brewmaster with the Coolest Guitar Collection,” but the Warped Speed Scotch Ale is truly his most generous gift to those of us who like a little extra bang in our brew without having to fork over extra cash for a beer that only comes in four-packs. Thanks Tommy!
HONORABLE MENTION: CENTRAL WATERS – SATIN SOLSTACE
Finally, a beer that I can drink with my mom! Once Miller Genuine Draft Light switched to the 64 calorie version my mom needed a new brand and found solace in Spotted Cow. She has since branched out to a few other craft and imported beers, but I will always remember Cow as the beer which eased her transition to the wonderful world of craft brewing. I recommend this to all beer-curious people at the bar as a good craft beer to try to get their feet wet. It must be working because it is one of the few craft beers that regularly outsells macros in certain pockets of Wisconsin.
HONORABLE MENTION: CAPITAL SUPPER CLUB
Lakefront took local ingredient sourcing to a whole level with Wisonsinite. Not only are the water, grain and hops all from Wisconsin, so too is the yeast which was developed by Jeremy King from Northern Brewer. Lakefront says “their new strain is believed be to the only North American-grown yeast in commercial use today as well as the first native brewing yeast from Wisconsin.” And to top it off, the Summer Weiss is a very refreshing and tasty summer beer.
HONORABLE MENTION : CAPITAL – ETERNAL FLAME
Everything about this beer was great. A collaboration between six brewmasters (Tom Porter – Lake Louie, Scott Manning – Vintage, Kirby Nelson – Capital, Rob Lobriglio – Great Dane, Page Buchannan – House of Brews, and Mark Knobel -Grumpy Troll), the Common Thread was a great-tasting example of a California Common with wonderful marketing and a brilliant logo that really made me appreciate what Wisconsin Craft Brewing is all about. None of these guys ever say anything bad about each other, and in fact work together more than the public might be aware. The mindset is not every craft brewery for themselves, but every craft brewery together against the InBevs and SABMillers of the world.
HONORABLE MENTION: MIDWEST HOPS AND BARLEY COOPERATIVE – FIVE BEER RELEASE from SPRECHER, CENTRAL WATERS, LAKEFRONT, BULL FALLS, SOUTH SHORE
OUTSIDE THE BOX
MAD TOWN BROWN (Chai Spiced Brown Ale)
With a touch of lactose for a creamy sweetness coupled with fresh homemade Chai Tea Spices, this beer was the most interesting brew I tried in Wisconsin. I am not normally a fan of Chai Tea and honestly thought I would hate the beer, but I have got to give credit to Dan and Peter who really put together a winner here. A must-try if you are in the Madison area.
*For full disclosure, I do work at the One Barrel Brewing Co, but I had nothing to do with the formulation of this beer. I just appreciate its uniqueness.
HONORABLE MENTION : NEW GLARUS – SERENDIPITY
GO BIG OR GO HOME
NEW BREWERY LOCATION
Ale Asylum’s $8 million brewery expansion is probably the biggest move in Wisconsin brewing last year. The new location is beautiful, with tons of space to expand, windows where patrons can watch beer being made and packaged, and, oh yeah, it’s really close to my house. More space coupled with efficient bottling and kegging lines ensures better quality and easier distribution which will allow Ale Asylum to enter markets in entire state of Wisconsin in one fell swoop. With quality product and incredible branding, I foresee Ale Asylum becoming a household name in all of Wisconsin and potentially on a larger scale in a very short amount of time.
HONORABLE MENTION: KIRBY NELSON LEAVES CAPITAL TO START WISCONSIN BREWING CO.
This jalapeno ale is the most drinkable I have had to date. It has the taste of jalapenos without being to spicy to enjoy and entire pint. Ordinarily, I would never had considered such a category for an award since pepper beers are often too peppery for my pallet, but Sweet Mullets really nailed this one. If you are ever in Oconomowoc, stop by the brewery and give Jorge a taste and tell them Brewsconsin sent ya.
HONORABLE MENTION: GREAT DANE – TRI PEPPER PILS
COMMUNITY SUPPORTED BREWERY
With CSA’s being all the rage these days I love the idea that House of Brews was created with a similar business model. The idea of creating a community of beer enthusiasts that all share in the bounty of brewing through a subscription system is one of a kind as far as I know (didn’t bother to Google it though). Page Buchannan built House of Brews as a place where not only can customers drink the beer, but talk about beer and have some influence on what is brewed. As a brewer and beer-lover, I like the idea that we no longer have to sit at home and drink whatever the brewery decides to make, I like the idea that I can “subscribe” to a beer or series of beers, and I sincerely like Page and House of Brews and appreciate that they bring something new to the table.
HONORABLE MENTION: ONE BARREL – NANO BREWERY
FAVORITE WISCONSIN BEERS BY STYLE
AMERICAN PALE ALE: NEW GLARUS – MOON MAN
AMERICAN IPA: POTOSI – SNAKE HOLLOW
IMPERIAL IPA: ALE ASYLUM – SATISFACTION JACKSIN
AMBER: SPRECHER – AMBER
RED: LAKEFRONT – FIXED GEAR
PORTER: O’SO – NITE TRAIN
STOUT: HOUSE OF BREWS – SNUG OATMEAL STOUT
IMPERIAL STOUT: SPRECHER – RUSSIAN IMPERIAL
LAGER: LAKEFRONT – HOLIDAY SPICE
FRUIT BEER: VINTAGE – RASPBERRY HIBISCUS SAISON