Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wisconsin Conquers Denver

The Great American Beer Festival was held this past weekend in Denver, Colorado. Lots of people attended, mass quantities of beer were consumed. Awards were handed out. The following awards were handed out to Wisconsin-based brewers.

Gold Medals:
Point Oktoberfest - Steven Point Brewery (American-Style Amber Lager)
Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale - Stevens Point Brewery (Field Beer or Pumpkin Beer)
Hometown Blonde - New Glarus Brewery (Bohemian-Style Pilsner)
Uber Bock - Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co (German-Style Dopplebock or Eisbock)
Fourteen Fourteen - Central Waters Brewing Co (Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Stout)

Silver Medals
Staghorn - New Glarus Brewing Co (American-Style Amber Lager)
Fixed Gear - Lakefront Brewery (American-Style Amber/Red)

But the big winners were Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co and its head brewer Rob Lobreglio who won Brewpub Goup and Brewpub Group Brewer of the Year. Congratulations to everyone involved at the Great Dane!

And Miller won some awards for Miller Lite, Mickey's Malt Liquor, and Leinie's Summer Shandy

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Capital Brewery Looking For New Brewer

To cap off an event year (or years) for Capital Brewery, add "Head Brewer" to the list of problems. Kirby Nelson, formerly of Capital Brewery, will (re)join Carl Nolen at the new Wisconsin Brewing Co down the street in Verona.

Whether this is a good move, a good brewery, a good idea, only time will tell. I like Carl. I like Kirby. 300,000 barrels is a LOT of beer (indeed 3 times the size of New Glarus - or a little smaller than the size of Leinenkugel's). Wisconsin Brewing Co will instantly become the second largest brewer in the state and one of the 10 largest craft breweries in the country. How they will accomplish that is anyone's guess. But, if I were to guess, it will be heavy marketing of light lagers, combined with aggressive pricing. Presumably, by hiring Kirby, they are signaling that the intent is that Wisconsin Brewing Co be a craft brewery. But the sheer scale of the enterprise makes that a difficult business proposition to say the least.

Doing this without becoming (or being) Minhas, will be a challenge. Regardless of the technical competency of the folks in Monroe - all great people, I am sure - the reputation and flavor profiles of the output from Minhas leave a lot to be desired.

Meanwhile, Capital is left holding the proverbial bag. A difficult, highly custom brewing environment. A fractured and indifferent customer base. New management.