It’s been over a week since I wrapped up my travels from TUL to MKE. Unsuspecting of what was going to happen, I came back with a notebook full of story ideas, new endeavors for Tulsa and respect for those who write for a living. So bear with me as I highlight the days packed with beer tasting, breakout sessions with industry pros and highly decorated speakers from the beer industry.
Independent is the New Craft
With the Brewers Association rolling out the new Independent graphics to let consumers know that this brewery operates independently of any holdings company or major BMC brands. Julia Herz gave a compelling opening Friday morning to rev us up and let us know we are in a new age of craft beer. Beer is growing exponentially, as of August 1 this year there are 5,562 breweries in the U.S with over 2,700 in planning. However the annual growth rate has dropped from 12% to 5%. Is that because it is more spread out, or has the terminology changed with acquisitions of well established brands like Anchor, Wicked Weed and now Funky Buddha? It’s hard to say but I took away these few items that you may see future stories about:
- Keep Beer Authentic
- Fair Access to Market
- Quality Beer & Quality Management
- Innovations in Beer
Julia was simply inspiring providing us with many topics for stories to cover in our home state that need to be brought to light.
Traveling Beer Gardens
If I do one thing in life to better my community, this would be it. OK, that may be a little extreme but Milwaukee embraces beer culture and even has traveling beer gardens set up by their parks department. Sprecher Brewing have taken old firetrucks and turned them into mobile bars for special events or simply to have a beer garden. Tulsa’s Oktoberfest is simply the best, but why not have it year round where friends can openly hoist a stein in the park.
You’ve Never Tasted Beer Until Randy Mosher Teaches You
If you read my previous entry, I was giddy as a school-girl that Randy Mosher was going to lead us into a tasting of Stone beers. Well, it was everything I wanted and more. Randy leads you through an extensive series of sensory perceptions even before you taste the beer.
Naturally the first is the overall appearance of the beer. Does it look brewed to style, is it something you would drink? Second, just place it in front of you and catch any aromas coming off of it. Third is the drive by. Simply pick up the glass and slowly drag it under your nose and see what you pick up. You could then swirl the beer to release other volatiles and aromas that may leak out. Finally, you can take a tiny sip and let it coat your entire mouth. Taste buds aren’t just on your tongue, they cover your entire mouth. “Shout out what you are tasting, blurt out words from your lizard brain.” Randy went deeper into more scientific terms that I will spare repeating here but ultimately beer is an emotional experience where we can recall moments in our life, both good and bad.
Live Beer Blogging: Beer Speed Dating
Talk about sensory overload. Here’s the pitch: a brewery comes over with some cold beers, gives a sales pitch and description of the beer, pours samples and we discuss it. All in 5 minutes! Whistle blows and everyone rotates. I’d never been through anything of this caliber but treated it like a quick interview each time the rep or owner of some of Milwaukee’s up and coming microbrewers like Westallion with a licorice spiced ale, Third Space with hop forward Happy Place pale ale and my personal favorite was Potosi with their Czech style lager. Thankfully there were pretzels and cheese curds served to ease the amount of beer consumed in 45 minutes.
Milwaukee is Rife with Breweries
It’s easy to walk anywhere in downtown Milwaukee and not find yourself at a brewery. With over 40 to choose from, some with over 30 years of experience like Lakefront Brewing, it’s easy to find a beer fit for you. Saturday night we had an entertaining evening with a reception at Lakefront filled with beer samples. Laverne & Shirley reenactments and plenty of fried cheese curds. We then loaded the buses and trucked over to Good City Brewing for dinner. A 17 bbl brewpub nestled into the East Side district served up some amazing curry fries and sliders. I would highly recommend visiting for their imperial stout and clean Mosaic pale ale. It’s the only place I actually bought a shirt from, so that says a lot.
It was on to Brenner Brewing for a night full of cornhole, Violent Femmes drummer performance and plenty of good beer. My favorite of the evening that I can remember was City Fox pale ale, malty but balanced with subtle Mosaic fruity hops; I must have more. The great catch to this brewery is each beer has a label created by a different local artist.
Phew. I could go on but you just have to experience Milwaukee’s rich beer culture itself. There is a reason they have taken on the moniker Brew City. Next year is in Virginia and I’ll hopefully rub elbows at Dogfish Head and Sam Calagione singing Woody Guthrie songs round the campfire.
Oklahoma Craft Beer Podcast