By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 08, 2021 at 11:56 AM

In the deep dark winter days of the pandemic, The Explorium Brewpub’s Mike Doble wanted his fellow brewers and beer lovers to see some light at the end of the tunnel. So he rallied a group of craft brewers and distillers, as well as some suppliers, to launch the HOPE Project.

“Here's One for the Pandemic Ending, or HOPE Project, is an all-inclusive craft beer and craft spirit industry collaboration to celebrate the end of the global pandemic that we all know as COVID,” he wrote in an email, proposing a collaboration stout that would rest in barrels from Wisconsin distilleries until it could be tapped to celebrate the end of the pandemic.

Brewing and barreling took place at the St. Paul Avenue brewery in January, with a long list of participants, including...

Breweries: Broken Bat Brewing Co., Dead Bird Brewing Company, Enlighted Brewing Company, Explorium, Faklandia Brewing, Good City Brewing, Indeed Brewing Company, MobCraft, New Barons Brewing Cooperative, Raised Grain Brewing Co., Sahale Ale Works, The Fermentorium, Third Space Brewing, 1840 Brewing Company

Distilleries: Central Standard Distilling Company, Dancing Goat Distillery, Great Lakes Distillery, Great Northern Distilling, La Crosse Distilling Company, Twisted Path Distillery, Yahara Bay Distillers

Suppliers: Proximity Malting Company, Briess Malting Company

In the meantime, the barrels have been resting at the brewery.

While me might not be completely out of the woods yet, the HOPE Project stout is ready and The Explorium will release it on Saturday, June 19.

There will be a live Zoom toast at 12:30 p.m. that day to mark the official release. The login ID is 414-423-1365.

Beginning at 1 p.m. both Explorium taprooms will host live music and free glassware and T-shirt giveaways to the first 100 or so people.

“The idea is to build compelling teams of breweries and distilleries to get as many people out as possible to enjoy our creation and celebrate by lifting a glass and toast: Here's One for the Pandemic Ending!,” said Doble.

There will be three different releases from the brew day: HOPE Rye, HOPE Brandy and HOPE Whiskey.

“I’ve tried all of the barrels,” said Doble. “Even though we had nine barrels, there was enough distinction to get four varieties of the beer. We ended up with three varieties. They will all be the same beer;. just the barreling is different.”

The beer is a lactose- and gluten-free, imperial stout.
“We essentially had three types of barrels,” Doble added, “nd those ended up being the three varieties. I was hoping that there would be enough variance between the different rye whiskeys or the different bourbon-style whiskeys that we would have different versions for each distillery. But in the end they all tasted so similar because they’ve only had about five months to age.”
The Explorium is working with participants to get the beer to their respective tap and tasting rooms in time for the June 19 launch. Participants can choose if they want to tap all three brews, or just one or two.

“Venues will plan their own style of celebration from subdued to over-the-top, so check the social media of your favorite brewery and of The Explorium Brewpub for details as the day draws near,” Doble advised.
“It is not lost on the brewing community that June 19  is also Emancipation Day. Some of the participating venues are also including programming consistent with the gravity of this day in the greater context of our nation’s history.”

As it should be.                 

Stay on top of the news by following your favorite participating brewery or distillery and @exploriumbrew. You can also following the hashtag,  #2021hopeproject.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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.