We hope everyone had a great holiday. We did. It's also that time of year for the "Year in Review" type stuff. As we were getting all excited about compiling this list, we realized something detrimental to our effort: Robin Shepard, over at the Isthmus, pretty much hit it dead on and our article was just going to be repeat of his.
However, there were some differences, so let's go over those:
Best Seasonal Beer: We can't really argue with Tyranena's Oktoberfest, although we thought that Capital's was the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, we didn't start publishing until August, so we missed the first two-thirds of the year's seasonal beers.
Best Summertime Beer: Furthermore is always a good choice. They make a great selection of interesting pale ales. But, we'll put our money on Brewery Creek's Shandy. This unassuming brewery in the shopping district of Mineral Point put together a great summer beer; in fact, this beer was in the running for Beer of the Year for some of our contributors.
Best Beer of 2007: We agree with Robin on this one, but just wanted to state it for the record. Lake Louie's Louie's Reserve is the best beer of the year. Complex and warming, this beer should perform well for years to come.
So, with 2007 out of the way, what is there to look forward to this year? Even at this early stage there are some interesting lights at the end of the 2008 tunnel:
Prepare for the Belgian Onslaught
First, Furthermore is adding another Belgian style to its lineup that already includes the Fatty Boombalatty, a Belgian wit brewed as a Wisconsin pale ale. But, on Janauary 5th at 9:45pm at the High-Noon Saloon, Furthermore will officially unveil another Belgian style brewed as Wisconsin pale ale: the Make Weight, a Belgian Tripel. With this 8.5% ABV Triple Pale Ale as they call it, Furthermore is going to be a brewery to keep an eye on in 2008. Owners Arun and Chris recently purchased some land in Spring Green where they hope to put a brewery and eventually move away from contract brewing in Black River Falls for their increasingly interesting lineup of beers that includes perennial MBR favorite Knot Stock and the seasonal drinkability of the Fallen Apple.
Second, the folks over at The Great Dane are back from a head-honcho-inspired trip to study brewing styles in Belgium. The rumor mill has it that The Great Dane will start brewing some Belgian beers. This could be an interesting experiment that, if brewed to the quality typical of the Dane, will bring Belgian beers to the fraternity masses. While these beers are typically styles that wouldn't seem to appeal to the prototypical Great Dane clientele, with its upscale move to Hilldale and a strong showing by the Belgians, perhaps The Great Dane can class up the joint a bit.
Speaking of The Great Dane
The other big thing to keep an eye on in 2008 will be the impact of The Great Dane Bill. To our knowledge there are a couple of breweries planned to open in 2008, including a brewery focusing on wild yeast strains and the possible re-opening of the Potosi Brewing Company. There may, and probably will, be others - all of whom will be impacted by this new law.