In 2019, 51 Wisconsin brewers converged on Third Space Brewing in the Menomonee Valley for the third annual Wisconsin IPA Fest, where brewers bring their best India pale ales and craft beer fans sample and vote for their favorites.
This year, on Saturday, Aug. 22, 12 brewers will meet on the internet, where, hopefully, beer lovers will join them to talk about brewing Wisconsin, IPAs and more.
"When you are trying to sample 50-plus IPAs it's just too difficult for your palate to discern the differences," says Third Space co-founder Andy Gehl.
"With it limited to 12 it will be much easier for people to try them all and at their own pace. And while virtual hang outs aren't ideal, people will get a chance to ask questions of the brewers and really chat with them which doesn't always happen at the traditional fest because the brewers are all in the back doing the judging."
Tickets for the 4 p.m. event start at $55 ($50 early bird special runs through July 31) and include a 12-pack of the beers, admission to the virtual festival, a Wisconsin IPA Fest sticker and a very distinctive limited edition glass.
Head brewers and owners of the participating breweries will give a quick presentation on his or her IPA and take questions from the festival host and from attendees.
As part of the VIP experience, that starts at 3 p.m. and costs $75, Gehl and his co-founder Kevin Wright will take part in a Q&A with folks from Lakefront.
The idea of an annual festival collaboration, started last year, did not get derailed by coronavirus, thankfully.
"We are collaborating with Lakefront Brewery on the WI IPA Fest Collaboration IPA this year," says Gehl. "Lakefront was the first winner of the IPA Fest so they were a great choice for this year's collaboration."
In order to get the collaboration brew, you need to buy the VIP package, which includes a 16-ounce four-pack of the special beer. VIP ticket holders also get a presentation from Hopsteiner, which supplies hops to brewers, about the harvesting of hops and some new varieties on the horizon.
"It should be really cool," Gehl enthuses.
I’ll admit that I’d been a bit skeptical about virtual beer festivals until I watched Gathering Place’s Lager & Friends in May.
The Dovetail Brewery tour and the panels were informative and interesting.
Gehl has high hopes for the first online IPA Fest.
"I think it will be really fun," he says. "It will obviously be different because we won't be able to gather in one place but we are really excited about the mixed 12-pack and the opportunity for IPA Fest attendees to hang out with the brewers in the Virtual Fest."
Here is a complete list of the beers:
- Eagle Park, Scuba Squad IPA, 7% ABV
- Central Waters, Fourth Space Blackberry Key Lime IPA, 6.25
- Working Draft, Future Tense IPA, 7
- Lion’s Tail, Funnel Cloud IPA, 6.30
- Vennture, Sour Taste Buds IPA
- 3 Sheeps, Sabroso Double IPA, 8.5 (Replaced by Broken Bat)
- Raised Grain, Foursaken Hazy IPA, 7.7
- The Fermentorium, Blood Orange Juice Packets IPA, 6.6
- Hacienda, Ever Moving Planet - Oats, 7
- Untitled Art, Fluffy IPA, 6.5
- MobCraft, Hyperspace Double IPA, 8.6
- City Lights, Hazy Galaxy Double IPA, 8.2
Third Space hasn't entered a beer in this year's lineup of contenders, but is offering ticket packages that include a 6-pack of its Why Wouldn't Cha? Hazy IPA at an additional cost.
Wisconsin IPA Fest packages will be available for pickup at Third Space Brewing, 1505 W. St. Paul Ave., Aug. 16-20 (Sunday, noon-7; Mon-dayTuesday, 4-7; Wednesday-Thursday, 4-9).
Virtual Festival Details will be emailed to attendees as the event approaches.
You must be at least 21 years old to participate.
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.