Tag Archives: beverage

Beer to flow through city as Belgian pipe dream comes true

The idea may have seemed mad, but after all, the beer is called the Madman of Bruges — or Brugse Zot in Dutch.

And with the help of crowdfunding efforts among some 400 Madman fans, the dream of building a beer pipeline through the Belgian city of Bruges is becoming real.

“You have to be a bit crazy — like the beer — to do such a project. I just had the money for that, and I liked it. So I went crazy and gave the money to the brewery,” said local restaurant owner Philippe Le Loup, who poured some $11,000 into the pipeline.

Brewer Xavier Vanneste got the idea four years ago to pump the beer from his Bruges brewery to a bottling plant outside of town in a pipeline instead of having hundreds of transportation trucks blighting the cobblestoned streets of the UNESCO-protected medieval city.

Jokes were coming in fast, with people saying “we are willing to invest as long as we can have a tapping point on the pipeline,” Vanneste said. “That gave us the idea to crowdfund the project to make this possible.”

What at first seemed like an outrageous dream, began to seem possible when Vanneste started talking to local beer enthusiasts, he said.

Jokes were coming in fast, with people saying “we are willing to invest as long as we can have a tapping point on the pipeline,” Vanneste said. “That gave us the idea to crowdfund the project to make this possible.”

Thanks to Le Loup and others, he is now staring at the opening end of the pipeline, which from this autumn will start pumping some 4,000 liters (1,060 gallons) of beer an hour toward the bottling plant, around 3 kilometers (2 miles) away in a non-descript industrial zone.

“That is a lot of beer, more than you can drink in a lifetime,” said the owner of De Halve Maan brewery, which in addition to Brugse Zot is also famous for its Straffe Hendrik beer brand.

Sending the pipeline along all streets where customers could siphon off their favorite suds without having to leave home was too utopian even for Vanneste, but he came up with the next best thing — IOUs with a lifelong drinking guarantee.

“We have several formulas: bronze, silver and gold,” he said. “If you put in e.g. 7,500 euros ($8,350), you will receive for the rest of your days, every day one bottle of Brugse Zot.”

The offer was hard to refuse and about 10 percent of the total 4 million euro ($4.5 million) investment for the pipeline has been financed through crowdfunding. With it came a popular surge of support that has stood Vanneste in good stead.

With a warren of municipal, regional and federal urbanization laws, building approvals were often laborious to come by for something as unique as a beer pipeline but authorities soon realized a whole community was backing it.

Not only did they provide financial funding for the project, they also provided a political base for it because so many people were supporting it, Vanneste said.

The city also stood to gain. In between the picturesque beguinage houses and Our Lady’s Cathedral, De Halve Maan brewery has given the sometimes overly touristy, so-called Venice of the North a sense of real life. Vanneste could have done what so many others have done — move out, lock, stock and barrel from the city with its canals, gabled Gothic houses, horse-drawn carriages and restaurants with six-language menus.

Now, he hopes to have the best of both worlds — a historic brewery in a location where it should be and an environmentally friendly way of transporting his brews out to the bottling plant which will allow him to continue to grow.

But it is not only Vanneste’s family business that is growing. The generous contributor to the project, Le Loup, is eyeing his paunch.

You can tell from my belly that I am a beer fan, he says.

The Driftless Area: A great place for Wisconsin brews

One of Wisconsin’s best-kept tourism secrets may be the Driftless Area, that relatively small southwest corner of the state that wasn’t scoured flat by glacial ice some 500,000 years ago. 

The region’s 16,203 square miles, most of it in the Badger State, are marked by rocky outcroppings, high elevations and deep ravines. The area stretches from just west of Madison up to La Crosse and into parts of neighboring Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

The Driftless Area also is home to a surprising number of craft breweries, brewpubs and even the National Brewery Museum. Spend a weekend drifting along the southern route and you will be able to drink your fill of beer and beer history.

Your first stop west of Madison is The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub in Mount Horeb. Nestled in the old Mount Horeb Creamery, built in 1916, the bar and restaurant is one of the social hubs of this western Dane County community of just under 8,000.

Brewmaster Mark Knoebl has been tending the Troll’s brew tanks for a number of years, earning a few national awards along the way. New to his list of beers is a Belgian IPA, surprisingly strong at 9.4 percent alcohol by volume, and Fox & Badger, a session beer made from Maris Otter malt and a variety of hops.

Captain Fred, Knoebl’s homage to Pabst Blue Ribbon’s classic American lager and named for Frederick Pabst, stills anchors the lineup. A variety of bar food and pizza comprise the restaurant’s menu.

If there is an anchor to the Driftless region’s brewing community, it is most certainly New Glarus Brewing Co., just outside the Green County community of the same name. 

Owner and president Deb Carey and her husband, brewmaster Daniel, have catapulted the 22-year-old enterprise to the top tier of the state’s craft brewers. Indeed, Deb’s business prowess saw her trading small business and brewing tips with President Barack Obama last year as a White House Champion of Change. 

The company’s beers are so popular, people are willing to commit potential felonies to get them. Spotted Cow, the brewery’s flagship brand, made the news earlier this year when a Minnesota retailer tried to sell the beer illegally outside of Wisconsin.

Daniel Carey draws on a lifetime of brewing, including an early stint as production manager for Anheuser-Busch, but it’s the California native’s inveterate, inventive spirit that has distinguished the brewery among beer geeks far and wide. Last year saw the release of the first sour beers produced in the brewery’s wild fruit cave, which calls upon the inoculation by wild yeasts floating in the air to produce Carey’s unique, one-of-a-kind sour ales.

Carey’s ever-changing kaleidoscope of beers makes a visit to New Glarus Brewing Co. a lesson in brewery science. The Thumbprint series alone — handcrafted, small-batch brews that only return when the Careys feel like recreating them — is worth the price of admission. Current options include an Apple Ale, intriguing sour ale Enigma and double IPA Scream. 

Monroe, the county seat for Green County, is well-known for its Swiss cheese. It’s also the home of Minhas Craft Brewery, which has been around in some iteration since 1845. The brewery may be best known for brewing Berghoff, the house beer brand of Chicago’s famous Berghoff Restaurant.

In 2003, the brewery began contract brewing economy beer for Canadian brother and sister entrepreneurs Ravinder and Manjit Minhas for export to their native province of Alberta. In 2006, the pair bought the brewery outright and changed its name to reflect its new status.

The brewery, which produces the Boxer and Mountain Crest brands for export, brews several craft beers and malt-flavored beverages. Like many Wisconsin breweries and wineries, Minhas also now houses a distillery.

Northwest of Monroe in Iowa County is Mineral Point, one of Wisconsin’s most historically significant communities. The town was a haven for Cornish lead miners in the early 19th century, and their homes and buildings have been meticulously preserved as a state historic site. Mineral Point in 1842 also was home to the state’s last public hanging. History tells us that William Caffee, convicted of shooting a man during an argument, was brought to the makeshift gallows astride his own coffin, beating out his funeral march with empty beer bottles.

Beer still plays a role in Mineral Point thanks to the Brewery Creek Inn, Cottages and Brewpub Restaurant. The nicely appointed B&B in a historic stone building makes for an attractive hostelry, while the corresponding restaurant and brewery cater to traveler’s basic sustenance needs.

The lunch and dinner menu is extensive, as opposed to the beer menu, which is not. The in-house 15-barrel brewpub currently offers American Wheat Ale, Brewery Creek Pale Ale, London Porter and a shandy, which is a light ale blended with 30 percent lemonade. With its rooms and food, Brewery Creek takes a more holistic approach for its guests, and the beer is just an added attraction.

No Driftless Area beer tour is complete without a trip to the little town Potosi on the Mississippi River. The tiny Grant County community of about 1,000, known as Wisconsin’s “Catfish Capital,” is home to the Potosi Brewery and is also the location of the National Brewing Museum.

Founded in 1852, Potosi Brewery began as a small local enterprise and eventually grew to be the state’s fifth-largest brewery. Due to the rise of national brands, the brewery closed in 1972, but was resurrected in 1999 thanks to overwhelming community support. Such was the level of that support that The American Breweriana Association selected Potosi over much larger communities like Milwaukee and St. Louis as home of the National Brewing Museum.

Good Old Potosi, a golden ale and the brewery’s historic flagship brand, is still available in bottles and on draft. But a new state-of-the-art brewing facility and a variety of new brewmasters have raised the stakes and made the little brewery more competitive. Potosi now produces seasonal favorites like Miner’s Dopplebock and St. Thomas Belgian Abbey, but it was this summer’s Tangerine IPA that really put the brewery on the craft brewing map.

The National Brewery Museum, located within the brewery grounds, contains one the nation’s most extensive collections of beer bottles and cans, glasses, trays, coasters, advertising materials and other collectibles. For true beer geeks, it’s a must-see, if only for the old black-and-white kinescopes of 1950s-era animated Hamm’s beer commercials. For the rest of us, it’s simply a whole lot of fun.

Breweries Featured

The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub

102 S. Second St., Mount Horeb



New Glarus Brewing Co.

2400 Wis. 69, New Glarus



Minhas Craft Brewery

1208 14th Ave., Monroe



Brewery Creek Inn,
Cottages and Brewpub Restaurant

23 Commerce St., Mineral Point



Potosi Brewing Co.
National Brewery Museum

209 S. Main St., Potosi



Soda pop industry pumps $100 million into defeating public health initiatives

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the American Beverage Association have spent at least $106 million to defeat public health initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels since 2009, according to an analysis conducted by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The watchdog group says the actual amount spent by the soda industry is much greater, since campaign finance and lobby expenses are not available in 10 out of the 23 jurisdictions that have considered policies aimed at reducing sugar drink consumption.

The soda industry ramped up its federal lobbying spending dramatically in 2009. That year, legislators were exploring new federal excise taxes on soda as one potential funding source for health care reform. Disclosure reports indicate menu labeling, school nutrition and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were also among the industry’s interests. But compared with the industry’s pre-2009 baseline spending, CSPI estimates that the industry spent $52 million at the federal level opposing public health initiatives.

At the state level, the industry spent $16.7 million in Washington state in a successful campaign to overturn at the ballot box a 2-cent per 12-ounce tax passed by the legislature.

Between 2009 and 2015, the beverage industry spent $15.2 million to defeat several measures in New York state, including a proposed state-wide soda tax and then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to cap the size of restaurant soda servings to 16 ounces.

Between 2013 and 2015, the industry spent $2.4 million to unsuccessfully oppose a proposed soda tax in Berkeley, California, and spent $9.2 million in 2014 to successfully oppose a similar tax in San Francisco. The latter proposal had majority support but failed to reach the required two-thirds threshold.

“Like the tobacco industry before it, the soda industry is spending heavily and spending strategically and has mostly been successful at blocking federal, state and local public health measures aimed at reducing soda-related disease,” said CSPI director of health promotion policy Jim O’Hara. “However, it’s unclear whether the industry will be able to preserve its winning streak when it has to fend off a greater number of soda tax or warning label proposals simultaneously.”

Overall, the American Beverage Association spent $64.6 million to fight sugar drink initiatives.

Much of its money was spent at the DC-based public affairs firm Goddard Gunster and the media buying firm GCW Media services.

Soda industry spending is also bipartisan, and flows to vendors with Republican ties — such as Public Opinion Strategies — as well as Democratic ties — such as The Mellman Group, Beneson Strategy Group, and Dewey Square Group.

Traveling the Lake Michigan beer trail

There was a time in the early 20th century when just about every little Wisconsin town could be counted on for two things: a church and a bar. But now, the rapid rise of craft brewing means that in many towns, the third constant is a brewery.

Set out in any direction in the Badger State and you won’t have to drive far before you bump into a brewery.

If the direction you’re driving is north along the Lake Michigan shoreline, you can find some suds brewed by some of the state’s most interesting brewers.

Traveling north on U.S. Hwy. 43 from Milwaukee, your first stop beyond Ozaukee County will be Sheboygan, home to 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. Founder and brewmaster Grant Pauly is a third-generation brewer whose grandfather in 1926 rescued the bankrupt Gutsch Brewery, renamed it the Kingsbury Breweries and took the brand national. In 2011, Pauly was delighted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Pauly’s flavor palate goes far beyond anything his grandfather’s brewery cultivated. 3 Sheeps made its mark with award winners like Baaad Boy Black Wheat Ale, Ewephoria Ginger Chocolate Stout and Really Cool Waterslides IPA. 

It’s taking a step further with its yearly Nimble Lips Noble Tongue series, which last year included an India pale ale infused with squid ink. The latest entry in the limited run series — called “Hoedown!” — is an imperial black wheat cherry ale infused with ancho and chipotle chilies that promises to be even more invigorating. The bar Hops Haven, a separate enterprise that occupies part of the brewery’s building, has all the 3 Sheeps brands on tap.

Travel a little further north to Manitowoc and you will find the Courthouse Pub. The brewpub, across the street from the Manitowoc County Courthouse, is a full-service fine dining restaurant. The menu features everything from soups, salads and sandwiches to coconut shrimp ($19.95), cinnamon-encrusted pork ($23.50) and Jonathan’s Pride ($29.95), a 7-ounce grilled fillet topped with a mushroom demi glaze and four shrimp.

On the brewery side, the Courthouse Pub offers 10 different beers. In addition to a Munich Helles and Bavarian Weiss, the brew kettles also churn out Imperial Butternut Ale, made with caramelized butternut squash, and Black Peppered Lager, seasoned with black pepper for a spicier finish. 

The Pub Belgian, made with coriander and orange peel and weighing in at 19 percent alcohol by volume, will knock your proverbial socks off.

Hwy. 43 veers west just beyond Manitowoc. Hop off the interstate at Exit 171 and head east to Denmark. Chatterhouse Brewery, one of the state’s newest breweries, opened there in January.

Details online are still a bit sketchy, but the Chatterhouse brewers ultimately promise to produce six distinct beers. The first three just hit the market. You should be able to find Chatterhouse Ale, Hard Cider and No Sacrifice Gluten Free Ale at George Street Connection, 614 George St., in the Green Bay suburb of DePere.

From the brewery, head north to Cty. Rd. P and west on Hwy. 29 to Hwy. 42, traveling north to Algoma. There you will find another of the state’s newer breweries, this time attached to one of Wisconsin’s most historic brewing legacies. 

In 1967, Dr. Charles Stiehl bought an old property in Algoma on the banks of the Ahnapee River and started Wisconsin’s first commercial winery, specifically to make wine out of Door County cherries. But the award-winning von Stiehl Winery built its business on the bones of what was once the Ahnapee Brewery.

The original brewery dates back to 1868, when Civil War veteran Henry Schmiling began brewing beer in what was then a little mill town. Descendants Aric and Brad Schmiling revived the Ahnapee brand, brewing their beer at the former Carnival Guernsey Dairy northwest of town and serving it in a small garage-turned-taproom adjacent to the winery.

Selections on tap may include Little Soldier, an amber ale brewed in honor of Henry Schmiling; Fun Guy, a brown ale brewed with north woods mushrooms; Two Stall, a chocolate milk stout named in honor of the tasting room; and Helles in Red, the brewery’s Munich Helles-style beer, aged in red wine barrels. Wines from von Stiehl also are available.

Continue north on Hwy. 42 to Sturgeon Bay, the gateway to Door County. Keep your eyes open for Starboard Brewing Co.

Starboard, owned by former homebrewer Patrick Surfus and his wife Amanda, is a nanobrewery, where the couple brews only a single barrel of beer at a time. Needless to say, the offerings rotate frequently and the brewers follow whatever whim makes sense to them.

Current items on tap you should watch for include Back Forty, a high-gravity (higher alcohol) amber ale brewed with locally sourced wood-fired maple syrup and cherrywood-smoked malts; Paladin, a well-balanced black India pale ale brewed with Midnight wheat and a blend of West Coast hops; and Fugglestout, a classic Belgian beer brewed with extra malt and turbinado sugar to increase the gravity and make it a proverbial “liquid bread.”

Further north on Hwy. 42, The Shipwrecked Brewpub dominates what passes for a busy corner in downtown Egg Harbor. It’s the only brewpub in Wisconsin reported to be haunted.

Built in 1882 as a saloon to serve the then-booming timber trade, the brewpub underwent a variety of owners and hospitality businesses, even catering to gangster Al Capone at one point. Among the ghosts rumored to haunt the establishment are two federal agents killed by Capone’s men in the tunnels that run under the establishment, and not one, but two reportedly illegitimate Capone children.

Today, the brewpub serves hearty pub fare, as well as a variety of beers brewed on the premises. The selection includes the obviously named Lighthouse Light, Bayside Blonde, Peninsula Porter and a tasty cherry wheat ale brewed with locally grown Montmorency cherries.

Egg Harbor is on the peninsula’s Green Bay side. For your final stop, find your way over to Baileys Harbor on the Lake Michigan side. That’s where Door County Brewing Co. is located.

Owned and operated by John McMahon and sons Danny and Ben, the brewery had its followers even before it had a facility. The beers they brew are as colorful in nature as they are flavorful on the palate.

Among the selections you will find: Polka King Porter, a dark, roasty-flavored beer dedicated to local character and polkaholic Freddie Kodanko. There also is Little Sister Witbier, a Belgian-style white spiced with coriander and orange peel. 

And make sure you don’t miss Goat Parade, a high-gravity smoked imperial stout brewed with cherrywood smoked malt and added molasses and brown sugar for added sweetness (and strength). The beer is named for Earl and Clegg, described by the company as “the most bad ass goats in Door County.” Well, of course they are, and of course it is!

On the tour …

3 Sheeps Brewing Co.

1327 N. Huron Ave.




Courthouse Pub

1001 S. Eighth St.



Chatterhouse Brewery

5675 Maribel Road, Denmark



Ahnapee Brewery

115 Navarino St., Algoma



Starboard Brewing Co.

151 N. Third Ave., Sturgeon Bay



The Shipwrecked Brewpub

7791 Egg Harbor Road, Egg Harbor



Door County Brewing Co.

2434 Cty. F, Baileys Harbor



Let others worry about the burgers. You focus on the sangria

Want to be the hero of your July Fourth gathering? Leave the burgers and dogs to somebody else. Ditto for the potato and pasta salads. What you want to bring is the sangria. Because it’s hard to go wrong at an outdoor summer party when you’re the one toting the pitcher cocktail.

Still, I’m not a big believer in working hard for my cocktail. So this recipe is a breeze to assemble. Just dump and stir in the morning, then let it chill for a few hours before serving. Whatever you do, don’t add ice until it’s in the glass, and even then keep it to one or two cubes at most. Nobody wants a watered down cocktail.

For this recipe, I call for cava — the sparkling wine of Spain — but feel free to substitute the bubbles of your choice. Or if you’d rather cut the alcohol a little (can’t imagine why, but whatever), ginger beer or a lemon-lime soda are fine substitutes.


Start to finish: 10 minutes active, plus 2 to 4 hours chilling

Servings: 10

1 cup brandy

1 cup peach juice

1/2 cup simple syrup or agave syrup

750-milliliter bottle dry red wine (such as rioja)

6 ounces fresh raspberries

2 oranges, thinly sliced

2 limes, thinly sliced

16-ounce bag frozen strawberries

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup sugar

750-milliliter bottle cava (or other sparkling wine)

In a large pitcher, stir together the brandy, peach juice and syrup until the syrup is dissolved. Add the wine and stir again. Stir in the raspberries, oranges and limes, then cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, in a blender combine the strawberries, orange juice and sugar. Puree until very smooth. Pour into 2 ice cube trays, then freeze for 2 to 4 hours, or until solid.

When ready to serve, slowly pour the cava into the pitcher. Stir once or twice gently just to mix. Pour into serving glasses, then add 1 to 2 frozen strawberry cubes to each glass.