By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 28, 2020 at 2:01 PM

You know Joe Thomas, right?

Played football at Brookfield Central, was All-American during his time with the Badgers and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns as the third overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

But did you know he’s a beer guy?

And surely to the delight of folks like Gathering Place brewer Corey Blodgett (and me), Thomas is a Kolsch guy.

Two years ago, Thomas collaborated with Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing to create 73, a Kolsch-style ale (you can only really call it Kolsch if it comes from Koln, Germany).

Kolsch is brewed like a lager but using top-fermenting ale yeast and it’s a beautifully clear, light, malty beer that’s perfect for summer patios.

Well, 73 is back, having been re-launched in cans and on tap in and around Cleveland on Aug. 13.

And just a couple days ago, Great Lakes announced that it’s now here, in Thomas’ native land, too:

"A special collaboration that started in 2018, 73 is our way of honoring a local legend with a tasty tribute," reads a press release from Great Lakes.

"After Joe retired (with 10,363 consecutive snaps under his belt!) we invited him to join our brewers in designing and brewing the perfect game day beer. No stranger to hard work and grit, he even rolled up his sleeves to add hops to the boil and rake out the spent grain. Of course, we expected nothing less from our hometown hero."

73 is brewed with rye and Sterling hops, and finishes out at 5.7 percent ABV and 20 IBUs. According to Great Lakes, it’s, "Reliably crisp and smooth, with consecutive snaps of earthy hop aromas and subtle rye bitterness."

(Leinie’s Canoe Paddler is another Kolsch-style brew that uses rye.)

At the moment, you should be able to grab cans of 73 at Otto’s, Discount, Woodman’s, Sendik's and Ray’s.

Welcome home, Joe!

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 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.