Category Archives: Beerclubfieldtrip

#Beerclub Opens Doors

Monday night a few #beerclubbers were invited to a special Tenth and Blake tasting at Miller Brewery by our newest #beerclub member, the stunning¬†Lisa Zimmer¬†(I wasn’t put up to saying she’s stunning or anything ūüėČ ). Lisa is the Digital and Consumer Outreach Manager for Tenth and Blake, a division of Miller Brewing.

First, a little background. Tenth and Blake was created three and a half years ago in as the craft and import division of Miller. They oversee brands like Blue Moon, Leinenkugels, Pilsner Urkell, AC Golden, and St. Stefanus among others. They get a lot of flak for being “Fake Craft Beer” and the corporate whores of the beer industry, but through people like Lisa, they are working on overcoming that image.

One of the ways they are overcoming this stems from some internal policies. All staff members of the Tenth and Blake division are given two weeks of intensive beer education. This education includes how to homebrew, and how to taste beer. Every employee is given a homebrew kit as part of their employment, and they are all required to pass the server level cicerone test. Lisa also said that since their offices are in Chicago, away from the brewing¬†facilities, that they are encouraged to brew beer at work. They feel it’s important to be around the brewing process, and have beers fermenting near them while they work. This is the same company that gets constantly derided for not appreciating beer. More on Tenth and Blake in a bit, but let’s get onto the drinking stories.

Fred Miller's Pub

Fred Miller’s Pub

A few weeks ago, #beerclub drank Blue Moon to celebrate the actual blue moon. This is a beer that falls under the umbrella of Tenth and Blake, so we invited Lisa to join in on the conversation. She wasn’t able to make it that night, but she did want to reach out to us and invited a small group to meet her at Frederick Miller’s Pub. The pub is located on the brewery grounds, and it was built after the SAB Miller purchase with the intention of being a place for employees to go after work, and increase¬†camaraderie among the staff.

Miller's Cooler

The cooler door at Miller’s Pub

The bar is gorgeous. It’s really welcoming with plush seating, bright wood on the walls, beer steins, and there’s no tacky neon. I have some pics taken by fellow #beerclubber Jodi. If I was an employee, or had access to the bar, I’d be there pretty often. The place just has a very cool atmosphere.

Genevieve and I arrived at the same time and Lisa invited us to grab a beer from the bar. Both of us had the Third Shift Marzen. poured into a tall glass while Lisa arranged to start pouring from her secret stash. Once she opened up her stash, we were off to the races.

I’m not going to give a commentary on all the drinks we had, but I will provide a list, just so you can get some idea of the variety, and quality of the beers we were trying:

  • Crispin – Ginger and Elderberry Cider
  • AC Golden – Hidden Barrel Kriek
  • Leinenkugels – Snowdrift Vanilla Porter
  • Terrapin – Free Spirit Farmhouse Ale
  • Brouwerij Van Steenberge¬†–¬†¬†St. Stefanus Blonde
  • Worthington’s White Shield¬†– IPA from Burton upon Trent
  • Blue Moon – Caramel Apple Spiced Ale
  • Crispin – Stagger Lee
  • Fox Barrel –¬†¬†Orange Peel & Corriander
  • Fox Barrel – English Perry
  • Crispin – Lansdowne
  • Leinenkugels – “Ten Miles Wide” (a special not for release version of the Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout that was bourbon barrel aged over sour cherries) This one was complete with a special label:
Ten Miles Wide

Ten Miles Wide

All of these beers were really good, and we had some great discussion about where Tenth and Blake’s sees themselves in the market.¬†

We even had some special guests who came to talk with us.

Mike from Crispin has been the Wisconsin rep for some time, and now he’s in charge of the Midwest region. He came and brought most of the Crispin and Fox Barrel samples that we had. Unfortunately we ran out of time to try all of the ciders he brought, so he just sent them home with us. I have some ciders here that I’m really excited to try.

It was very interesting to hear the viewpoint of someone who worked for Crispin well before the Tenth and Blake acquisition, and who admitted he wasn’t sure how the company would be treated after being bought out. After the acquisition, not a single employee has left the company. That tells me that Tenth and Blake is doing this right. They’re not the big evil¬†conglomerate¬†that some people in the craft community make them out to be. Sure, they are a part of a large brewery, but these people are passionate about their beers and ciders.

Dick Leinenkugel and Mike Christensen

Dick Leinenkugel and Mike Christensen

Then, while we were drinking and talking, Dick Leinenkugel came and sat with us. Dick doesn’t quite understand twitter, but he does understand beer, and he’s a very personable guy who has a pretty quick wit. He stayed and talked with us for most of the time we were in the pub. It’s kind of surreal to be drinking with a member of the Leinenkugel family who is wearing a Leinenkugel’s shirt.

As if that weren’t enough, we had a quick introduction to Dr. David Ryder, head brewer at Miller, and VP in charge of Brewing and Research for MillerCoors. He had a quick sample with us, before he went back to drinking his Miller Lite. When Dick commented on the choice of a Miller Lite, Dr. Ryder responded with “What can I say?” Another very¬†pleasant¬†man, who really knows his beer.

Dr. David Ryder and Dick Leinenkugel

Dr. David Ryder and Dick Leinenkugel

Once we finished at the pub (it was just after 6:30 PM by this time) we took a cab over to Molly Cool’s seafood for dinner where the discussion with Lisa continued. She is a perfect person to be doing this consumer outreach. She knows her stuff, but she is also very friendly and easy to get along with.

There are more stories, but this post has gotten long, and unfortunately, you just had to be there for yourself to experience it. We may have an opportunity to do this again, I’ll keep you all posted if such an opportunity arises. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.

#BCFT to Milwaukee Brewing Company

This site has been inactive for a while, but that doesn’t mean that #beerclub is done for. We’re still going strong, and each week we’re still drinking a new beer. In the last year, we’ve had field trips to different bars, beer fests, and brewery tours. With the new year, we have no plans of slowing down.

With that in mind, we’re planning an exciting field trip for January. One of our more popular field trips in 2011 was to Milwaukee Brewing Company for their tour. It was so popular that we’re doing it again.

Brewery tours are a facet of the industry that I just can’t get enough of. A mix of entertainment and education that is uniquely beer. Wineries often open their doors to the public, but usually through a tasting room. The drinker isn’t able to get the full experience and see behind the curtain and into the of the soul of the producer. Many times the breweries have such a small staff that you’ll be taking your tour with one of the head brewers or people who are working the line and know the business better than anyone.

Join us on January 28th for what promises to be a special field trip, worry of the history books. We will be meeting at the brewery at 1:00 for a special #beerclub private tour. This tour is before the doors open to the public, so we’ll have our run of the place. The tour will be as good as you can get from any brewery tour anywhere. Count on it.

If the tour wasn’t enough to grab¬†your¬†attention, there’s an extra special surprise in store for us. As many of you know, Milwaukee Brewing Co. is undergoing a rebranding. As a part of this rebranding, they are rolling out a completely revamped, and very cool new website. One special feature of this site is a place for #beerclub to chime in on their beers. After our tour, we’ve been invited to a special #beerclub only tasting session where we can add our thoughts to their website. It will be an event not to miss!

We’ll most likely head over to a bar after the tour, so if you’re not able to make it early enough to do the tour, feel free to tweet us to see where we end up.

 

RSVP and find more information here: http://twtvite.com/BCFTJan2012

#beerclub gives back

When I started #beerclub I wasn’t sure what it would become. I had visions of trying a new beer each week, but the friendships forged over the virtual bar are what really make the club what it is. We’ve sampled beers from several breweries, been on brewery tours and been to a bunch of great beer bars. It’s been fun, but I’d like to take this club to a place we haven’t been before.

It’s time that #beerclub gave back to the community at large. Most of you in the Milwaukee area know Julie Larsen. She’s not much of a beer drinker, but she is a friend of #beerclub and she’s sat in on a few meetings. She’s putting together a huge fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network called PurpleStride Milwaukee.

PurpleStride is a two mile walk along our beautiful lakefront. Participants can make donations themselves, or get their friends and family to sponsor them.

Not only am I doing this walk because of Julie’s commitment, but I have a very personal connection to pancreatic cancer. My father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July of 2006. I didn’t know much about that particular kind of cancer at the time but I did learn pretty quickly that it was one of the worst types of cancer out there.

We were lucky and his tumor was blocking his liver and he had symptoms far before most pancreatic cancer victims. It was caught early and he put up an amazing fight. He eventually succumbed and died in December of 2008.

Gary would have loved #beerclub even if he couldn’t partake. He was a member of AA for many years though the second A didn’t mean much to him personally. He was a very generous man who fought hard to help as many alcoholics as he could. He spent every Friday night that he could, going to detox in Minneapolis and talking to the inmates. He was always helping alcoholics and fighting alcoholism in any way he could.

Despite this alcoholic past and his personal crusade against alcoholism he was at peace with that part of his life. He loved going to the liquor store and seeing all the new flavors that were coming out. If the family was having a party or other get together he would be the one supplying the beverages. I will never forget him distributing drink tickets at our wedding. Lets just say that the bridal party had enough to drink that night and they had Gary to thank for it. As long as you were being responsible, Gary was glad to get you another drink.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a great organization helping people who really need it. They provide funding to research, offer assistance and answers to families who are struggling to come to grips with this awful disease, and probably most importantly they provide hope to patients.

This is why it’s so fitting that we’ve created a #beerclub team for the PurpleStride walk. Raising money for the fight against Pancreatic Cancer and combining it with beer is perfect.

I want to personally challenge everyone who can to join in and support this cause. The day of the walk promises to be fun and you’ll feel great knowing that your efforts will be helping people who really need it. We’ve created a #beerclub team and would love to have you join in.

#beerclubfieldtrip Recap and Announcement

Last night we met up at Romans’ Pub for the first #beerclubfieldtrip of 2011, and the fourth field trip overall. We drank great beer, had a good time with old friends, and met some new ones. Romans’ has a wide variety of taps and there was a beer there to meet everyone’s taste. In all we had 12(?) #beerclub members at the bar, and I’m sure everyone had a good time.

This is exactly what #beerclub is all about, and that’s why I’m happy to announce that we’re doing it again (and again, and again). I’m hoping to make the #beerclubfieldtrip a monthly event on the third Saturday of the month. We’ll be going to bars and breweries around the Milwaukee area, but we also have plans to head to the beer bars of Chicago and Madison in the near future.

Mark Your Calendars:

For February’s outing we’re heading over to The Sugar Maple. Meet up with fellow beer lovers and have a brew with us. February 19th, 7:00 PM at the Sugar Maple. RSVP and more information on the event’s twtvite.