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One of the best little beer fests around – says me – is Gathering Place Brewing Company’s Lager & Friends, which celebrates its fourth annual installment this year.
Though it was never meant to be a virtual event, the pandemic has ensured that two out of three years so far the event has been online. And credit where credit is due, it has been one of the most interesting online beer fests I’ve encountered.
But this year, it’s back in person and instead of at the brewery, it will be at Old Heidelberg Park, 700 W. Lexington Blvd., in Glendale.
The event, which spotlights lagers and their brewers, of course, is slated for Saturday, June 4, from noon to 4 p.m.
This year more than 60 lagers will be featured, including some from one of my favorite breweries – and one of Gathering Place owner Joe Yeado and brewer Corey Blodgett’s favorites, too – KC Bier Co. in Kansas City.
“Several of the breweries attending do not distribute in Wisconsin, so this event offers a chance to try their beer,” says Caitlyn White, marketing associate at Gathering Place. “We’re excited to bring the festival back in person after two years of hosting a virtual event.”
Most exciting, perhaps, is the annual collab brew and this year’s is with ... wait for it ... KC Bier!!
Admission to the event is $55 and includes a 16-ounce four-pack of the collab lager, a souvenir glass and unlimited sampling at the festival.
“The Lager & Friends collaboration beer changes each year and we’re thrilled to work with our friends at KC Bier Co.,” says Yeado, founder, who is from Kansas City.
“Giving people a 4-pack to take home is truly unique – I can’t think of another beer festival that does this.”
Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, March 9 in the taproom at 811 E. Vienna Ave. and online at lagerandfriends.com.
In related news, Yeado says that there is progress on the brewery's Bay View location in the new Flour & Feed Food Hall.
"They're targeting early June for completing the buildout," he says. "I imagine the food hall would be able to open later in June, though I haven't heard that for sure from the developer."
Stay tuned, Bay View!
Eagle Park celebrates five years
Eagle Park Brewing & Distilling has been so busy growing and diversifying – oh yeah, and navigating a pandemic, that it’s never stopped to take a breath and celebrate.
That changes on June 18 when the craft brewer and distiller celebrates its fifth anniversary at its Muskego brewery and taproom, S64 W15680 Commerce Center Pkwy.
Born in the Lincoln Warehouse in Bay View in 2017, Eagle Park opened its next location in an old Gallun Tannery building on Hamilton Street on the East Side in 2018. It is owned by brothers and Eagle Trace bandmates Jackson, Cass and Max Borgardt, and Jake Schinker.
An ambitious, expansive and impressive new-build brewery, taproom and restaurant was added in Muskego in 2020 and included a stillhouse for its new Eagle Park Spirits line.
At its three locations over the years, Eagle Park has brewed more than 450 beer recipes, distilled vodka, gin and other spirits, hosted live music and other events, made great food and more.
The anniversary event will embrace all of its that special beer releases, live music, a food buffet from noon until 5 p.m. and more.
As for the special releases – available via ticket purchase only – there will be Stave: Anniversary Blend (VIP Ticket Holders Only), BBA Booze For Breakfast, BBA Booze For Breakfast: French Toast, a mixed collaboration four-pack (details coming soon) and Anniversary Birthday Cake Cream Liqueur.
Folks purchasing beer releases but not attending the event will be able to pickup June 20-26 during normal business hours in Muskego.
The draft-only beers for the event are Double Barrel Fly By Night: Cherry Brandy Cask, Tahitian Vanilla; Double Barrel Naught Water: Wildflower Mead Cask; Stave: Single Barrel 002; Trials and Passes BBA Imperial Stout finished on trail mix; Oh! Sweet Nothing red velvet-inspired imperial stout aged for 18 months in bourbon barrels and finished with vanilla and cocoa nibs; Stave: Single Barrel 001; Fly By Night (2021) imperial stout aged in Heaven Hill barrels and conditioned on Madagascar vanilla beans; Double Barrel Naughty Water: Mead Cask (2022); and Barrel-Aged Mexican Chocolate Stout with cacao, lactose, cinnamon, ancho, and chipotle chilis.
Details on tickets (which will be a la carte to allow for flexibility), the musicians on tap, a hotel room blockand more will be announced soon.
There will be limited onsite parking, but auxiliary lots, too, with a shuttle running from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Old German Beer Hall taps new Lakefront kolsch
Lakefront is releasing a new year-round kolsch-style beer called Bierzeit, available at retail in six-pack bottles, and on tap at bars.
One of those bars is the Old German Beer Hall, 1009 N. King Dr., which hosts a release party on Thursday, March 10 at 6 p.m.
The event starts with a ceremonial keg tapping and free .2L glass pours until the first keg is exhausted.
With pilsner malt and noble hops, but top fermented, kolsch-style beers – brewed in the style of Kolsch, a Cologne, Germany specialty – are crisp ales that drink like lagers.
This one has 4.8 ABV and 23 IBUs.
“We’re excited about this one,” says Lakefront’s Director of Business Development, Chris Johnson. “Brewing a true-to-style, lighter beer is an art. Our brewers have nailed it.”
The Fermentorium's celebrating, too
The Fermentorium (Cedarburg and East Tosa) is turning 6 years old and celebrating with a special brew ... well, two, one for last year's Covid-tainted birthday and another for this year's milestone.
Rivers Turn to Wood, which is released on Saturday, March 12, comes from two Imperial Stouts aged in Cognac and bourbon barrels for nearly two years before being blended. It is the fifth anniversary beer.
"The traditional gift for a fifth anniversary is something made of wood," notes The Fermentorium in a social post. "After two years of canceled anniversary parties, you have to forgive us for feeling just a little apocalyptic taking this year's name from Black Sabbath."
Also releasing this weekend is the Anniversary 6.0 beer Leaves of Iron, a barrel-aged maple pecan doppelbock, and the fourth birthday brew, Blue Flowers fruited sour, gets a re-release.
Get 'em in Cedarburg, noon-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 Sunday; and in Tosa, 2-midnight on Saturday and 2-8 Sunday.
There will be food trucks, live music and special tappings of Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel -Aged Operation: Nighthawk Imperial Stout and Double Barrel Bootleggers Barrel Aged Imperial Brown Ale.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.