Tag Archives: Door County Beer Festival

Beer here! | A guide to Wisconsin’s craft-brewing festivals

With Milwaukee Beer Week (isn’t that every week?) winding to a close on May 3 and Madison Craft Beer Week firing up on May 2, one thing is perfectly clear: Beer season is upon us.

Wisconsin’s brewing heritage is celebrated with outdoor festivals throughout summer and fall. As a public service to the state’s storied beer drinkers everywhere, WiG offers below a list of many of the events on tap. Have your designated driver ready — he or she gets a discounted entry fee at most festivals — and prepare to celebrate with beers of the region and the season.

Madison Craft Beer Week, Madison, May 2–11

The more accurate title for this event would be “Madison Craft Beer Ten Days.” The citywide celebration features special beers from across the state and around the nation and involves most of the Capital City’s bars, brewpubs and restaurants. Unique to this festival is “Common Thread,” a special beer jointly created by area breweries. This year, 12 different brewers participated in production of a Bohemian pilsner that’s sure to be memorable. For more information, go to www.madbeerweek.com.

Waterford’s Brewfest IV, Waterford, May 2

Area businesses located in this Racine County village have come together with the local Lions Club to sponsor this one-day event. For more, go to www.waterfordbrewfest.com.

Belle City Brewfest, Racine,  May 10

Belle City, held at the Racine Civic Center, offers a 28-brewer lineup that includes Public Craft Brewing Co. and Rustic Road Brewing Co., both from nearby Kenosha. Entry is $25 through May 2, $35 thereafter. Info at www.racinebeerfest.com.

Wisconsin Micro-Brewers Beer Fest, Chilton, May 18

Thirty Wisconsin breweries will come together for the 23rd annual Wisconsin Micro-Brewers Beer Fest at the Calumet County Fair Grounds in Chilton. Hosted by Rowland’s Calumet Brewing Co., the fest is attracting brews ranging from Hayward’s Angry Minnow to Randy’s Fun Hunters from Whitewater. Tickets are priced at $40 and available in advance only. Info at www.rowlandsbrewery.com.

Beer Barons World of Beer Festival, Menomonee Falls, June 7

Milwaukee’s premier homebrew club hosts the 11th annual World of Beer Festival at the Schwabenhof Pavilion in Menomonee Falls. Billed as “the best festival you never heard of,” the event features 200 handpicked beers, meads and ciders from around the world. Tickets are $40. Info at www.wobfest.com.

Door County Beer Festival, Baileys Harbor, June 14

Wisconsin’s picturesque peninsula opens its arms to craft beer lovers for a one-day festival at Baileys Harbor’s Town Hall Park. Brewers from Wisconsin and other states, as well as a number of Belgian breweries, will be on hand to promote their products. Memphis blues legend Earl “The Pearl” Banks will provide the music. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the gate. For information, go to www.doorcountybeer.com.

Great Northern Beer Festival, Eagle River,  June 14

Perhaps the only beer festival to offer camping is the Great Northern Beer Festival, held at the Hi-Pines Campground. The event attracts brewers from around the state and offers a great opportunity to become acquainted with beers brewed in northern Wisconsin. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the gate — if still available. Info at www.greatnorthernbeerfestival.com.

Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival, Glendale, June 14

Staged at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale, this festival pairs craft beer with Wisconsin cheese manufacturers and dishes by local chiefs. More than 150 craft beer selections from more than 40 craft breweries throughout the state are represented. This year, Kyle Cherek of Wisconsin Foodie will host seminars about beer and food pairings. General tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door. Three hundred VIP tickets are available for $80 each. Infor at www.WisconsinBeerLoversFest.com.

Oshkosh Brews ’n’ Blues Festival, Oshkosh, June 21

More than 30 brewers and two blues bands take over the Leach Amphitheatre on the banks of the Fox River for the 19th annual Brews ’n’ Blues, a craft beer, homebrew and music festival presented by the Oshkosh Jaycees to benefit community charities. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 at the gate. Info at http://jcioshkosh.org/brews-n-blues.

Appleton AleFest, Appleton, June 28

Appleton’s Stone Arch Brew House helps host the Appleton AleFest at the city’s Memorial Park. A benefit for the Appleton Family Ice Center, the fest features a host of state breweries, including Pigeon River Brewing Co. from Marion and Madison’s MobCraft, the world’s first “crowd-sourced” brewery. Tickets are $40. Get more information at www.appletonalefest.com.

Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest, Milwaukee, July 19

Milwaukee craft beer fans thought it “was about firkin time” that they got their own beer festival, which led to formation of the Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest in Cathedral Park. (A firkin is a small keg or covered vessel used in the beer brewing and aging process.) All the usual suspects from the Wisconsin craft beer scene will be there, along with select brewers from California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Michigan. General admission is $46. Go to www.milwaukeefirkin.com.

Milwaukee Brewfest, Milwaukee, July 26

Still in the planning stages at press time, the fifth annual Milwaukee Brewfest at 1600 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. on the city’s lakefront will cover much of the same ground as the Firkin Beer Fest — but this time with Lake Michigan as a scenic backdrop. Info at www.milwaukeebrefest.com.

Lac du Flambeau Lions Club Brewfest, Minocqua, July 26

Those who like their beer festivals backed by stunning north woods scenery might want to give the Lac du Flambeau Lions Club Brewfest in Minocqua a try. Held in Torpy Park in downtown Minocqua, the event draws breweries from as close as Minocqua Brewery, located right next door to the fest, to as far away as Quebec, Canada. No word yet on this year’s entry fee, but the proceeds benefit local charities. Info at http://lacduflambeaubrewfest.com.

Great Taste of the Midwest, Madison, Aug. 9

Beer fests come and go, but The Great Taste of the Midwest, sponsored by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, is the standard by which all others are judged. Now in its 28th year, the Great Taste attracts up to 150 craft brewers from across the nation. There’s also live entertainment, educational sessions and an entire tent devoted to cask ales. The $60 tickets go on sale at noon on May 4 and will be gone within an hour. Go to http://greattaste.org.

Great Lakes Brewfest, Racine, Sept. 13

Now celebrating its 10th year, the Great Lakes Brewfest is the only Wisconsin beer festival that takes place in a zoo — the Racine Zoo, that is. Due to its timing and location, this fest features more beers from Ilinois and Michigan breweries than many of the other Wisconsin festivals. General admission tickets cost $49 and proceeds benefit the Racine Kilties Drum & Bugle Corps. Tickets go on sale at noon on May 1 and have sold out for the past 8 consecutive years, so make your plans now. Go to http://greatlakesbrewfest.com.

Thirsty Troll Brewfest, Mt. Horeb, Sept. 13

More than 25 brewers pouring over 100 beers will highlight the Thirsty Troll Brewfest in the Norwegian community of Mt. Horeb in south central Wisconsin, which bills itself as “The Troll Capital of the World.” Held at the city’s Grundahl Park, the fest features many area beers and is the only one with a mascot — Jorgen the Thirsty Troll. Visitors like to have their pictures taken with Jorgen. The entry fee is $32. For all the details, go to http://trollway.com/event/annual-thirsty-troll-brew-fest/.

Rails & Ales Brewfest, Green Bay, Sept. 20

Ever have the urge to sip craft beers while examining historic trains? If so, you won’t want to miss the Rails & Ales Brewfest at Green Bay’s National Railroad Museum. A standard ticket ($35 in advance, $45 at the door) allows you to talk with area brewers and winemakers while sampling dozens of their beverages. A premium ticket ($55 and available only in advance) buys you a three-course meal aboard the museum’s 1939 restored dinette-lounge car “Silver Spirit.” Tickets went on sale April 1, so call before the limited number of premium seats is sold out. Visit www.nationalrrmuseum.org.

Quivey’s Grove Beer Fest, Madison, Oct. 4

Before becoming known for saving Ten Chimneys, the historic Genesee Depot home of actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine, the late Joe Garton was a restaurateur who turned a circa 1855 stone farmhouse and barn into Quivey’s Grove, one of Madison’s better restaurants. Quivey’s Grove holds an autumn beer fest, which celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. More than 45 brewers serving over 100 beers will participate, with music provided by Westside Andy and the Mel Ford Blues Band. Info at www.quiveysgrove.com/beerfest/beerfestmain.htm.

Dells on Tap, Wisconsin Dells, Oct. 18

Wisconsin brewers will close the season with Dells on Tap, the annual beer festival held in one of Wisconsin’s top vacation destinations. Smaller state breweries, including the Port Huron and Dells Brewing Co., as well as nearby Blue Heron Brewery from Marshfield, American Sky Brewing from Hudson, and Woodman Brewing from Woodman (Pop. 96), offer a slightly different round of participants along with a lot of statewide favorites. Tickets are $35 in advance or $50 on the day of the event. Find more information at www.wisdells.com/wisconsin-dells-attraction/wisconsin-dells-on-tap.cfm.

Beer festival survival tips

If you’ve never been to a beer festival, proceed with caution. For craft beer lovers, these events are kid-in-a-candy-store opportunities. Be careful to keep track of your consumption.

It is possible to get the most from an event and still remember it. The following tips may help you and others to avoid becoming what organizers of Munich’s Oktoberfest call “bierleichen,” or “beer corpses.”

• Beer fests are about selection, not consumption. Even at most modest fests, you can’t sample everything. At 2 oz. to 4 oz. each, the pours are small, but they add up quickly. Pace yourself.

• Eat something to help absorb the alcohol. Some beer fests offer food, while others don’t. Eat hearty before you arrive, and you will be better prepared to imbibe. Eat nothing and you may be courting disaster.

• Drink plenty of water between beers. Water will dilute your alcoholic intake, fill you up and slow down your consumption. Alcohol dehydrates you, so you need water to rehydrate.

• Narrow your selection. A friend went to a larger festival in pursuit of as many saisons, or Belgian-style farmhouse ales, as he could find. He had plenty of interesting beers to drink and didn’t damage himself in the process.

• Try something new. This is not a place to quaff your everyday favorites. Look for new, odd styles and new breweries to broaden your beer education. That’s what beer fests are — or should be — about.

• Beware the high-octane monsters. Increasingly, brewers are dabbling in new hybrids and experimental styles. Invariably, these beers come with high alcohol by volume (ABV) levels that pack a punch. Try what interests you, but limit your intake. You will thank yourself later.

• Arrange for transportation home before you arrive. You’ll need a designated driver. If you don’t have one, you are toying with your life and the lives of others. Designated drivers get a reduced rate at most festivals, while events like Madison’s Great Taste of the Midwest arrange transportation through local taxi companies that will go anywhere in the city for less than $5.

Enjoy the festivals.

Sober as a (beer) judge

Beer fans are a finicky lot, and the Beer Judge Certification Program was created to make sure the judges are qualified. BJCP’s testing standards for would-be judges are rigorous. 

Founded in 1985, BJCP has already tested 7,846 potential judges worldwide, and 4,909 of those tested are currently active judges. But only 717 hold the rank of national judge or higher.

To date, certified beer judges have ranked 899,128 beers — and the number keeps growing.

Criteria are different for each beer. Try adapting BJCP criteria at your next fest. Not only will you impress your sodden friends, but you’ll enjoy your experience more.

Here is an edited version of what BJCP judges look for when judging a basic German Pilsner:

Aroma: Typically features a light, grainy Pils malt character, sometimes Graham cracker-like with distinctive flowery or spicy noble hops. Clean, with no fruity esters.

Appearance: Straw to light gold, brilliant to very clear, with a creamy, long-lasting white head.

Flavor: Crisp and bitter, with a dry to medium-dry finish. Maltiness is low to moderately low. Hop bitterness dominates the taste, continues through the finish and lingers into the aftertaste. Hop flavor should be derived from German noble hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body, medium to high carbonation.

Overall impression: A crisp, clean and refreshing beer that prominently features Noble German Hops bitterness accentuated by sulfites in the water. Drier and crisper than the original Bohemian Pilsner.

BJCP offers similar guidance for 28 beer and cider types, with three to six different styles for each type. For more information about judging and certification, visit www.bjcp.org.

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Here comes the sun | Summer’s festival lineup

The skies are bluer. The grass is greener. And the mercury is rising. It’s festival season, and Wisconsin takes pride in providing an outdoor offering for just about every day of summer. A look at the lineup and some highlights in bold:

In Milwaukee

• Chill on the Hill, June 4–Aug. 27 (Tuesdays), www.bayviewneighborhood.org.

• Jazz in the Park, June 6–Sept. 5 (Thursdays), www.easttown.com.

• PrideFest, June 7–9. www.pridefest.com.

• River Rhythms, June 12–Aug. 18 (Wednesdays), www.westown.org.

• Milwaukee IndyFest, June 14–15. www.milwaukeeindyfest.com.

• Polish Fest, June 14–16. www.polishfest.org.

• Greek Fest, June 21–23. www.annunciationwi.org.

• Malibu Open Festival, June 21–22, www.malibuopenfestival.com.

• Lakefront Festival of the Arts, June 21–23, lfoa.mam.org.

Summerfest, June 26–30; July 2–7. The world’s largest music festival – 11 days, 11 stages, 1,000 performances, 900,000 people and the best wine coolers anywhere. www.summerfest.com.

• Bastille Days, July 11–14, www.easttown.com.

• Festa Italiana, July 19–21. www.festaitaliana.com.

• Milwaukee Firkin Craft Beer Festival, July 20, milwaukeefirkin.com.

• German Fest, July 25–28. www.germanfest.com.

• Brady Street Festival, July 27, bradystreet.org.

• African World Festival, Aug. 3–4. www.awfmke.com.

• Milwaukee Air & Water Show, Aug. 3–4. www.milwaukeeairshow.com.

• Irish Fest, Aug. 15–18. www.irishfest.com.

• Mexican Fiesta, Aug. 23–25. www.mexicanfiesta.org.

Harley–Davidson 110th Anniversary, Aug. 29–Sept. 1. Rumble, rumble – a custom bike show, motorcycle display, concerts and the world’s largest bike night. www.harleydavidson.com.

• Indian Summer Festival, Sept. 6–8. www.indiansummer.org.

Around the state

Outta Sight Kite Flight, Kenosha, June 1–2. A grand launch of 500 kites. Kite-flying, kite-making, kite-selling, kite-watching. kenoshaevents.com.

• Butterfest, Sparta, June 6–9.
www.spartabutterfest.com.

• Walleye Weekend Festival, Fond du Lac, June 7–9. www.fdlfest.com.

• Prairie Villa Rendezvous, Prairie du Chien, June 13–16. www.prairieduchien.org.

• Monroe Balloon Rally, Monroe, June 14–15. www.monroeballoonrally.com.

Beer, Bacon and Cheese, New Glarus, June 15. Craft beers, artisan cheeses, cured meats. And the promise of a bacon-maple ice cream sundae. www.swisstown.com.

• Great River Road Festival, Cassville, June 15. www.stonefield.wisconsinhistory.org.

Door County Beer Festival, Baileys Harbor, June 15. Baileys Harbor is transformed into a beer mecca. www.doorcountybeer.com.

• June Dairy Days, Gilman, June 15–16. www.gilmanwi.com/junedairydays.

• Cranberry Blossom Festival, Wisconsin Rapids, June 20–23. www.blossomfest.com.

• Strawberry Festival, Cedarburg, June 22–23. www.cedarburgfestivals.org.

National Women’s Music Festival, Madison, July 4–7. Music, comedy, film workshops, a marketplace and sisters. www.wiaonline.org.

• Art Fair on the Square, Madison, July 13–14. www.mmoca.org. 

• Salmon–A–Rama, Racine, July 13–21. www.salmon-a-rama.com.

• Country Jam USA Festival, Eau Claire, July 18–20. www.countryjam.com.

Rock Fest, Cadott, July 18–20. Time is short to grow out your hair. Kiss, Whitesnake, Warrant, Megadeth. www.rock–fest.com.

• Midsummer Festival of the Arts, Sheboygan, July 20–21. www.jmkac.org.

Lumberjack World Championships, Hayward, July 25–27. Lumberjacks chop, climb, run and roll through more than 21 events at the “Olympics of the Forest.” www.lumberjackworldchampionships.com.

• Baraboo Circus Celebration Day, Baraboo, July 27. www.downtownbaraboo.com.

• EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, July 29–Aug. 4. www.airventure.org.

• Wisconsin State Fair, West Allis, Aug. 1–11. www.wistatefair.com.

National Mustard Day, Middleton, Aug. 3. Celebrating the “king of condiments.”
www.mustardmuseum.com.

• U.S. Open Chainsaw Sculpture Championships, Eau Claire,
Aug. 8–11. www.uschainsawchamps.com.

• Hamburger Fest and Balloon Rally, Seymour, Aug. 9–11. www.homeofthehamburger.org.

Summer Set Music Festival, Somerset, Aug. 9–11. Camping, tubing and lots of tunes, including by the Wailers. summersetfestival.com/2013/.

• Cranes of the World Festival, Baraboo, Aug. 10. www.savingcranes.org.

Sweet Corn Festival, Sun Prairie, Aug. 15–18. Serving 70 tons of sweet corn, as well as delivering a carnival and parade. www.sunprairiechamber.com.

• Baylake Bank Tall Ship Festival, Green Bay, Aug. 16–18. www.tallshipgreenbay.com.

• Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival, Superior, Aug. 23–24. www.lakesuperiordragons.com.

• Kenosha Grill Games, Kenosha, Aug. 23–24. www.grillgames.org.

• Artstreet, Green Bay, Aug. 23–25. www.artseventsinc.com.

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw, Prairie du Sac, Aug. 30–31. About 800 people will attempt to throw cow patties as far as they can. About 40,000 will watch. www.wiscowchip.com.

• Wilhelm Tell Festival, New Glarus, Aug. 30–Sept. 1. www.swisstown.com.

Dairyland Surf Classic, Sheboygan, Aug. 31–Sept. 1. Freshwater surfing in the Malibu of the Midwest. www.visitsheboygan.com.

• Taste of Madison, Madison, Aug. 31–Sept. 1. www.madisonfestivals.com.

Beyond state lines

• Illinois: Chicago Blues Festival, Chicago, June 6–9, www.cityofchicago.org; Taste of Chicago, Chicago, July 10–14, www.cityofchicago.org; Lollapalooza 2013, Chicago, Aug. 2–4, www.lollapalooza.com.

• Iowa: America’s River Festival, Dubuque, June 14–16, www.americasriverfestival.com; 80/35 Music Fest, Des Moines, July 5–6, 2013.80–35.com.

• Michigan: Coast West Music Fest, Muskegon, July 1–6, www.coastwestfestival.com; Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, The Land, Aug. 6–11, www.michfest.com.

• Minnesota: Moondance Jam, Walker, July 18–20, www.moondancejam.com.

On tour

Adam Ant, Barenaked Ladies, Beach Boys, Black Sabbath, Bon Jovi, Boyz II Men, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Dave Matthews Band, Celine Dion, Eagles, Melissa Etheridge, Fleetwood Mac, fun, Jay–Z, Elton John, Jonas Brothers, B.B. King, John Mayer, Matchbox 20, Paul McCartney, Tim McGraw, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, P!nk, Sugar Ray, Diana Ross, Rush, Leon Russell, Bob Seger, Smashing Pumpkins, Stink, They Might Be Giants, Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood, Violent Femmes.

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