Tag Archives: Brewery Visits

Sprecher Brewing Unveils Tapas and Beer Tastings

When Sprecher Brewery wanted to give drinkers a new way to experience their beer that went over and above a traditional brewery tour, they added a reserve tasting option in which participants have 10 beer samples paired with 10 different artisanal cheeses. These reserve tastings proved successful and the brewery wanted to take the experience even further.

Tonight, the brewery takes the wraps off their new Tapas and Beer tasting event which is the brewery’s answer to those desires to build on the success of the reserve tastings. On Monday night @Einley and I were able to partake in a preview of the new tasting. It’s clear that the brewery views this as a perfect way to show off their beers, their innovation, and their traditions. Bringing out almost their entire beer lineup for this event was a great way to really get to know the brewery on a whole new level.

The event, lead by Sprecher’s President Jeff Hamilton, featured 12 different beers which were each paired with five food items. We started out on the lighter end of their beer spectrum with the Sprecher Hefe Weiss and worked through to the dark Sprecher Imperial Stout. There were stops at staples among the Sprecher beer line like their Pub Brown Ale, and Black Bavarian, as well as some of their less common beers like the IPA2 and the Pipers Scotch Ale. Each of these beers was paired with a variety of cheeses, nuts, meats, fruits, veggies and even candies, our palates got a serious workout with sampling over 70 different flavors.

The team at Sprecher worked hard on designing these pairings, and it shows. Each and every beer had at least one food item paired with it that seemed out of the ordinary and unexpected. Not everyone liked every flavor combination, but that was not only to be expected, but it was by design. Jeff explained that they ran several test runs of the event and “if four out of five people liked it, it probably went on the plate. If five out of five people liked it, we didn’t necessarily put it on the plate because we felt like we weren’t challenging people enough.”

In addition to the 12 beers that were included in the tasting, we were treated to a sampling of the Hopfuzion fresh hop lager, the Citra Bomb IPA, Commando Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale, the Czar Brew with bourbon cherries, and the new Hard Root Beer. This event is intended to dazzle you, and it is very successful at that goal.

There are only a few ways to improve a night of drinking quality beer. Drinking the freshest possible beer, drinking it with good friends, and pairing it with good food. This new option at Sprecher Brewery helps accomplish all three at once.

Tickets for the Thursday night tastings are $30 per person and it is limited to 16 spaces to keep it personal, so be sure to book early. The menu will change seasonally to keep it fresh and inline with the current beer offerings. Call the brewery at (414) 964-2739 for more information.

Established: 1985
Established in 1985, Sprecher is Milwaukee's Original Microbrewery. We brew over 20 different beers as well as 8 gourmet sodas, including our world famous Sprecher Root Beer.

#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 😉 ). 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.

#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.

Beerpiphany

Genevieve

Genevieve

This blog presents a perfect opportunity to explore topics relating to beer outside of just which beer we’re drinking each week. It’s in this spirit that I’ve invited Genevieve (@Einley) to become a contributor to the site.

Genevieve is one of the core members of the #beerclub. She’s attended every single virtual meeting and even though she hasn’t liked every beer we’ve tried, she keeps coming back to experiment. As a craft beer loving mother and wife, who’s not afraid to tell it like it is, she adds a fresh perspective to the club and I look forward to reading her thoughts on beer and beer culture in future posts.

– Mitch

The other day on twitter, @AnneSprecher posted a general question to all of her followers, “What was your first beerpiphany?”   I answered back that I would have to think on that. And I did.  And what I came up with was way more than the 140 characters that Twitter allows, so here is the best place to put my beerpiphany right?

In 1996, I was a student at Michigan State University. About a half an hour outside of East Lansing, in Webberville, Michigan Brewing Company opened and I made sure to visit this craft brewery. And visit often.

This new, small brewery was my beerpiphany.  When it opened, it had only a few tables, a long bar, and a few beers on tap. There was a glass door that led to the brewery containing the vats of brewing beer and picnic tables with freezing temperatures where smoking was allowed. The parking lot was gravel and you had to drive through a gas station to get to the brewery.

Of course, I made quick best friends with a bartender there and would pay for one pint of

Michigan Brewing Co.

Michigan Brewing Co.

beer and drink limitless amounts of beer (and leave a nice tip).  This craft beer was my beerpiphany because prior to that, I was a beer snob who only drank Labatts.  This was a big deal because all of the college kids drank Busch light so Labatts was high brow.  Compared to LaBatts, this new craft beer (from the only craft brewery remotely local to me) was pure heaven.  I was introduced to my favorite kind of beer- IPAs and many other kinds as well.

Now Michigan Brewing Company has expanded big time. They have a pub in Lansing in addition to moving to a larger brewing facility. They paired up with Kid Rock to make BadAss Lager and have expanded their distribution.

I am grateful to them for giving me my first beerpiphany and to Anne Sprecher who made me remember such a great time in my life.