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It’s time to tie one on again (responsibly!), as this weekend marks the annual release of Third Space Brewing’s bourbon barrel-aged Irish coffee stout, Mystic Knot, and its variants.
The stout is created each year in partnership with Stone Creek Coffee, and this year’s theme is Brewers v. Baristas.
The Third Space brewing team created the Brewers' Blend, Mystic Mole, and the Stone Creek coffee team concocted the Baristas' Blend, Mystic Berry. The third variant, Mystic Lavender, was created by both teams together.
"It’s fun, because you get to play around with different flavors," says Third Space co-founder Andy Gehl. "This year we said to Stone Creek, 'create your own flavor profile,' and we told our own team to create one, too.
"It's different every year."
The basic Mystic Knot brew – an imperial cream stout brewed with lactose for that creamy mouthfeel and a hint of sweetness – is the same every year, using Stone Creek's Three Volcanoes blend, but the variants change and so, really, does the base brew thanks to variations that arise during brewing and aging.
"It's the same," confirms Gehl, "but the barrels are different and the barrel terroir – the climate, the changes in temperature and all that – are different, of course, and there are always little tweaks, too."
Mystic Mole adds cacao, ancho chili and spices to create a Mexican mole-inspired variant that is rich in cinnamon and allspice and clove, while Mystic Berry adds blueberry, blackberry and vanilla then steeps it in a special Peruvian Switchback coffee blend.
Both of these shave the edges off the coffee a bit, but are subtly enough flavored that they're not overpowering.
Mystic Lavender – an idea created by a former Stone Creek coffee roaster that is now a Third Space brewer – is a tribute to Stone Creek's Lavender Mocha Latte, with lavender, cacao and Stone Creek's Green Bike Coffee.
It, too, is light on the lavender, using just enough to make its presence known and create a herbal hint that balances well with the coffee.
All four versions are 10.5 percent ABV.
Pre-order all four variants in four-packs and then you can pick up anytime Saturday and Sunday.
The variants will all be on tap in the Menomonee Valley taproom, 1505 W. St. Paul Ave., this weekend and on Wednesday, March 17 for St. Patrick’s Day.
A new nitro version of Acres Edge Toasted Oatmeal Stout will be available on St. Patrick’s Day, as will Mystic Knot 4-packs, but be aware that the variants often sell out quickly and may not last this weekend.
On Saturday, Stone Creek will be on hand to share samples of the coffees used in brewing Mystic Knot and doing some demos.
This weekend Third Space and Stone Creek will co-host a Food and Hygiene Drive for the Riverwest Food Pantry at the taproom, too. Bring a food or hygiene item to Third Space Saturday or Sunday and get a coupon for a future free pint or cup of coffee.
Bring in an item on the top 10 needs list and get a coupon for both a coffee and a beer.
Health protocols are in place at the taproom and capacity is limited.
In related news, Third Space plans to announce soon that its distribution reach will extend throughout the entire state of Wisconsin soon thanks to its expansion of its existing relationship with a trio of distributors.
That means the recently added capacity at the Menomonee Valley will be put to good use.
Though the brewhouse capacity is now about 18,000 barrels a year, Third Space expects to brew just over 14,000 in 2021.
"We were on track to do about 14,000 in 2020 before COVID," says Gehl, who notes that Third Space's Happy Place Midwest Pale Ale has been canned for delivery to American Family Field, which will open to fans at reduced capacity on April 1.
"We're out of room here," says Gehl of the brewery's ever-growing current home on St. Paul Avenue.
"By summer 2023 we'll be in a tight spot. We're looking at options now."
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.