By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 22, 2022 at 11:30 AM

Circumstances kept me away this year, but according to Third Space co-founder Andy Gehl, the sixth annual Wisconsin IPA Fest was, once again, a big success, drawing almost 500 people to the Menomonee Valley brewery at 1505 W. St. Paul Ave. on Saturday.

“There were only a few tiny bouts of rain but they had no impact on the event,” Gehl said. “We sold out of T-shirts at the make your own T-shirt booth this year and all the DJ received some overwhelmingly positive feedback for entertaining the crowd.

Woodruff's Rocky Reef and its fans.

“If people missed the event, they can stop by our tap room this week to still get a taste of the VIP Collaboration Dip Hopped IPA that we brewed with Raised Grain and Hopsteiner and while supplies last we are selling remaining IPA Fest beers in mixed four-packs and six-packs for $10 each.”

I know that what everyone who wasn’t there wants to know is which of the 49 participating breweries won.

Each brewery brought two IPAs and a non-IPA to share at the all-day event, which was preceded, as usual, by a brewers-only event on Friday.

This year’s two-hour double blind judging session took place Wednesday night at which time judges (mostly independent local Beer Judge Certification Program judges and a few local beer writers) picked six finalists. On Friday, brewers selected the first, second and third place winners.

Andy Gehl presenting the first place trophy.

The six finalists were:

  • City Lights Brewing - Hazy IPA
  • Full Mile Beer Co. - Ghost Teeth
  • G5 Brewing Company - Anonymous Caller
  • Hacienda Beer Co. - Empires of the Mind
  • Mobcraft Beer - Double I Pear A
  • Tumbled Rock Brewery - Sarrington Road English IPA

And the winners were:

  • First place: G5 - Anonymous Caller
  • Second place: City Lights - Hazy IPA
  • Third place: Hacienda Beer Co - Empires of the Mind

As always there was also a People’s Choice winner selected by IPA Fest attendees, and according to Gehl, “this year's vote like most years was extremely close with only a few votes separating the top choices, (and) 46 of 49 breweries received at least one vote.”

Peoples' Choice:

  • Vennture Brew Co - I Love That For You Cold IPA
people's choice
The People's Choice: Vennture Brew Co.

Gehl said plans are already underway for the 2023 Wisconsin IPA, “but for now our sights are set on our next big event, our 6th Anniversary Party on Saturday Sept. 24. We always choose a charitable partner for that event and this year will be raising funds for camper scholarships to YMCA Camp Minikani where Kevin and Andy first met.”

The event will also include live music and special beer releases, including Six, the latest installment of Third Space’s annual solera release.

“For the second year in a row we will release a beer that has traveled through three different spirit barrels over two years – bourbon, then brandy, then PX sherry,” Gehl said.

“To make it ever more special, it picked up a portion of last year's anniversary beer, Five, along the way as we leave some liquid in the barrels, each time we move the beer along (the Solera process).”

Gehl said there will also be a Citrus Wheat Ale at select retailers starting in early September, the return of four-packs of Happy Happy Double IPA, which Third Space brewed for its 2016 grand opening, and a nitro draft of one of the four original Third Space brews, Acres Edge Toasted Oatmeal Stout.

Stay tuned for more on this year’s bash and on next year’s IPA Fest.

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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.