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Milwaukee Beer Summit
On Thursday, Lakefront Brewery and Beer Capitol Distributing hosted the Milwaukee Beer Summit in Lakefront’s large beer hall. It was a chance to bring brewers, bar and liquor store owners, beer aficionados and a few members of the (lucky) press together to taste and talk about beer. Taps poured beauties like Bell’s Barrel-Aged Kalamazoo Stout, Tyranena Double Stout and the new Lakefront Extended Play (see below). Plus, 22 different breweries (Alaskan, Three Floyds, Sierra Nevada, Wisconsin Brewing Company to name a few) handed out samples.

The tasting was great, but the most entertaining aspect was an hour-long panel discussion with Larry Bell (Bell’s Brewery), Russ Klisch (Lakefront), Kirby Nelson (Wisconsin Brewing Company), Dick Leinenkugel (Tenth and Blake), Joe Martino (Steven Point) and Tom Porter (Lake Louie). The eclectic mix offered viewpoints from a range of brewery sizes starting with Porter, who began Lake Louie Brewing as a one-man show, to Leinenkugel, whose beers now reside under the MillerCoors umbrella.

Some Highlights:
Larry Bell tasted his first beer in Wisconsin.
Session beers appear to be the next big trend in the craft beer industry.
Tom Porter’s first batch of beer had more alcohol than he anticipated and was nicknamed “liquid reefer” by its drinkers.
Growth can be a tricky proposition for craft breweries, but Bell says the stress isn’t too bad because, “at five o’clock the bar is close by.”
Lakefront Riverwest Stein was originally titled Riverwest Steam with the hope that the brewery might get free press if Anchor Steam sued them over the name. But the beer was called Riverwest Stein in a magazine article and the name stuck.
Breweries need to be environmental stewards when it comes to water conservation and agriculture.

If you’d like to hear what the experts had to say, the entire panel discussion can be heard at the Milwaukee Beer Summit website.


Big News from Ray’s
Kaleb from Ray’s Wine & Spirits (8930 W. North Ave.) announced some pretty big news early last week. June will see the grand opening of Ray’s Growler Gallery, a growler filling station in Ray’s tasting room. On the surface, the news is cool enough, but that’s not all. Every beer that the Growler Gallery taps will be a rarity. Some offerings will be beers made only for the Gallery, and others will be brews that you can’t get in a bottle. That is pretty outstanding and means that beer aficionados can bring home some unusual stuff. The grand opening plans include offerings from Solemn Oath, Karben4, Black Husky, Three Floyds and Hinterland. Serious business.

Barley Pop of the Week
At the Beer Summit, I had the chance to try Lakefront’s new “ISA” (India session ale), Extended Play, and was pleasantly surprised. Lower alcohol IPAs can taste a little thin, but Extended Play had a nice, slightly bitter finish and a 4.2% ABV. The aroma was surprisingly strong with hop floral goodness. I’m guessing that Extended Play and I will get to know each other pretty well this summer.

Quick Taps
One of the big surprises at the Beer Summit was Horny Goat Brewing. I admit that I haven’t tried much of their stuff lately, but was pleasantly surprised by samples of Wisconzin IPA and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. Wisconzin is an IPA brewed with Zinfandel grapes that give it a tasty, but not overpowering, hint of fruit. The porter had a rich dark chocolate flavor with just a touch of peanut butter that added depth to the flavor. Props to the folks at Horny Goat.

Congrats to New Belgium Brewing for earning a B Corp Best for the Environment award. B Corps are noted for social and environmental awareness and performance.

For a little light reading, check out the 2014 Beer Guidelines from the Brewers Association.

Events Brewing
Tuesday, May 6: Comet Cafe (1947 N. Farwell Ave.) hosts Beer School starting at 7:30 p.m. Learn about and sample brews for just $20.

Wednesday, May 7: Head to Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar (2060 N. Humboldt Blvd.) to sample homebrews with the Milwaukee Beer Society from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost is free to members, and membership is just $10.

Thursday, May 8: The Lakefront Extended Play release party takes place at Finks (1875 N. Humboldt Ave.). Try the tasty new brew starting at 7 p.m.

Thursday, May 8: Have some of the first Solemn Oath brews in Wisconsin at Burnhearts (2599 S. Logan Ave.). Trust me, you won’t be sorry. Get there right at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 10: A tasting of “beers for mom” runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.).