Friday, January 30, 2009

More Information About The Old Fashioned

I've been to The Old Fashioned twice since they've started their "every brewery in Wisconsin" project and I'm convinced it's one of the awesomest things in Madison this winter. If you haven't been over there, get there. They'll be doing this for a while, so it makes sense to stop in often.

I mention it because luck would have it that on Wednesday the 28th I got an email: "Hello, I am Jennifer from The Old Fashioned. Just wanted to say thank you for the article. I have been working on this Beer project for some time and getting close to the final goal. We finally got all 30 tap lines in and by Thursday we will have 120 different Wisconsin bottled beers. Our goal is to carry every brewery in the state that is able to provide us with either bottles or taps. We should be at that point in April as Thirsty Pagan in Superior and Angry Minnow will be able to supply to us at that point. I believe on my last count, 8 other brewpubs (including stonefly) are not able to provide us with anything at this time. Currently we are representing 45 breweries around the state."

120 different Wisconsin beers, plus 30 taplines. Be still my heart. So, I followed up with some questions and Jennifer was kind enough to respond and give me permission to reprint her responses.

MBR: I've been over to the Old Fashioned twice now (during this project, I've been there far more than that), and both times have had a great experience (my only gripe is the frosted mugs). How have you been able to work around the distributors for this or have they been generally cooperative? [ed note: both times I was the Old Fashioned, the server initially brought me a frosted mug and I had to ask for a non-frosted mug. I know, it's nit-picky, but a) frosted mugs suck all the flavor out of a beer, and b) if I have the person responsible for it on the line, I might as well mention it.]

Jennifer: First, let me say that I agree on the frosted mug issue. Starting Monday the bartenders are going to ask which type of glass the customer would prefer. Many of our customers would get pretty upset when we were serving items like "Lake Louie Scotch Ale" in a room temp. glass. So as default we served everything in chilled unless asked. Now, after I finish this round of staff training, they are going to ask the customer. [ed note: Thank you!!!!!]

The first challenge of this project was locating all the breweries in the state. I discovered that a master list does not exist [ed note: on Wednesday we published the excise tax records for Sept 2008, so that should help!]. Second was finding out who could handle the sales of kegs/bottles. Next it was trying to get distributors to pick up some of these accounts for us. O'so (out of Plover) and Pearl St. (signing up next month) are the only two that were picked up by any distributor. [ed note: this is interesting; I'm glad that O'so and Pearl Street might get some regular availability here now but it would be nice if there were even more] Below is a list of all the places in which I (or a retired gentleman we just hired) go or will be going to pick up beer:

Titletown - Green Bay
Hinterland - Green Bay
Potosi - Potosi
Calumet - Chilton
Red Eye - Wausau
Bull Falls - Wausau
Angry Minnow - Hayward (coming soon)
Thirsty Pagan - Superior (coming soon)
Minocqua Brewing - Minocqua
Pearl St. - La Crosse
Northwoods - Eau Claire

[ed note: everyone, please stand up and give a round of applause to Jennifer and the "retired gentleman" who drive all over this damned state, so that you don't have to. It is a 5.5+ hour drive to Superior; there is one brewpub in Superior. And it will be on tap here in Madison because Jennifer and/or "the retired gentleman" drove 11 hours for you.]

Below is a list of beers waiting for open lines to tap.
Titletown - johnny blood red
Tyranena - Scotch Ale
Lake Louie - Kiss the Lips IPA
Sand Creek - Woody's Wheat
South Shore - Rhoades Scholar Stout
Calumet - Rowland's Rye [ed note: I drool enough on this site about Calumet, but the Oktober and this are probably my two favorite beers of theirs - my brother is a big fan of their dark and Matt and Jon both loved the Total Eclipse]
Calumet - Fat Man's Nut Brown
Potosi - Cave Malt Ale
Potosi - Good Old Potosi
Tyranena's - Paradise by the Dashboard Lights (double cherry porter) [ed note: this is the new Brewer's Gone Wild; is it even available in bottles yet??]

The idea is to run a couple kegs of each and switch it up. We have six core lines that will never change and 24 rotating lines. We will be switching a great deal. My head is spinning thinking about it. [ed note: mine heart is swooning]

Sorry, here is the list of brewpubs that can not provide beer.
Grumpy Troll
Randy's Fun Hunters Beer
Silver Creek
Stone Fly
Rail House
Rustic Rail
Delafield Brew House
Great Dane [proximity]
JT Whitneys [proximity]

I am sure I am missing a couple small operations in this list but, all of these places are not able to provide us with beer at this time. Just found out today that Nicolet Brewing is opening back up and will be carrying them in April.

Also, any beer you would suggest on tap - we are always open to other ideas.

MBR: So, there you go. Everything you wanted to know, and more, about the Wisconsin Beer Project at The Old Fashioned. For me: I reviewed the Wild Rice Lager from Minocqua and really liked it. It might be fun to put on a bunch of pre-pro lagers, like the Wild Rice from Minocqua, the Madison St Lager from Calumet, Fauerbach, Essers, etc. Or in March to put up all the stouts these breweries can provide. Put in the comments any particulars that you'd like to see.


  1. On the subject of a master list, that tax document could be helpful, but also had some contract brews missing (Furthermore is a glaring example) and had some extra stuff (Boston Beer Co.)
    I'd sure like to see them carry that Minocqua Wild Rice Lager; i've never had a commercial beer brewed with Wild Rice, I think that would be really interesting.

  2. I'd like to try the Minocqua Wild Rice lager as well. I fondly remember Capital's wild rice seasonal a few years back and I definitely enjoyed more than a few of those out on the Bier Garten.

    I'm also happy to hear that Nicolet is starting back up again. I liked their pilsener.

  3. Interestingly, I was doing some research on some other stuff and did you know that in Minnesota it is illegal to use Indian names or images in association with wild rice unless the wild rice is actually harvested by a recognized indian tribe?!? I only mention it because Minocqua claims that the wild rice in their beer comes from the Lac Du Flambeau indian tribe.

  4. On a personal note, I find the folks at the OF - to a soul - to be some of the most genuine and nice people I have ever met.

    And on a business note, they run an incredible establishment - consistently great and accessible food, terrific service, supportive of local vendors, usually busy... I could go on and will: I marvel at how the theme keeps the focus tight, but never borders on overly-kitschy or gross. And management gets good reviews from staff (off the record, of course) - and that says a lot.

    They have been a pleasure to do business with and I love it when I have a chance to walk in through the front door as a customer.

    The stairs to the basement leading to the walk-in cooler suck, though ;)


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