It was only a matter of time before beer and potato chips were merged as one, and although Sprecher Brewing Company doesn’t claim to have masterminded the concept, the local beer company was quick to hop on the beer potato chip bandwagon.
"I had seen some beer-flavored chips in other parts of the country and I knew these would be a great fit for our gift shop," says Sprecher president Jeff Hamilton.
It turns out, the Sprecher Beer Flavored Kettle Chips are a good fit for businesses beyond the gift shop, too. (The Sprecher gift shop is inside the brewery, 791 W. Glendale Ave.) The chips are available at Otto’s Beverage, 3476 N. Oakland Ave., Nehring’s Sendik’s, 4027 N. Oakland Ave., Blaine’s Farm & Fleet, 501 W. Rawson Ave., Groppi’s, 1441 E. Russell Ave., and a slew of gas stations.
Sprecher introduced the beer chips in January, just a couple of weeks before the Super Bowl. They are available in two sizes, a 9-ounce bag and a 1.75-ounce bag and the cost varies depending on where they are purchased, but somewhere between $2 and $3.50 a bag. Sprecher Beer Flavored Kettle Chips have no cholesterol, no trans fats or preservatives.
Sprecher teamed up with Bradley Industries in Riverwest to create the alcohol-free chips. Hamilton says it took about a year to develop the perfect taste. He says they experimented with a variety of Sprecher beers -- including the Black Bavarian and the Irish-style stout -- before settling on the Sprecher Special Amber.
"We realized that, after the dehydration process, you don’t get any more flavor from the dark beers than the lighter ones. And Amber is our most popular beer, so we decided to go with it," says Hamilton.
The chips -- after they are made from what Sprecher calls "the best potatoes available" -- are coated with a beer powder that’s basically dehydrated beer. The dehydration process removes the liquid and the alcohol, which results in the powdered beer substance.
So do the chips really taste like beer? Opinions seems to vary, but according to James Valet, they do. Sort of.
"I would say they are 'beer-esque,'" says Valet. "I don’t like my chips to be 'too' anything though, so I appreciate the subtlety."
Milwaukee’s Jessica Schlitz sampled the chips recently but she didn’t taste the beer-ness.
"My boyfriend at I thought they tasted like very good chips, but to say 'beer' flavored would be pushing it. They are not much different from Krunchers, if you ask me," says Schlitz.
Hamilton invited us to the brewery to taste the chips, and we found them, overall, to be very crunchy, sweet and salty. There is a hint of beer flavor -- as well as malt flavor -- that makes them definitely taste different than regular potato chips, but if we weren’t told they were beer flavored, the beer taste might not be evident.
However, the hint of beer flavor was enough for us. The crunch, saltiness and the in-between thickness of the chip -- not too thin and not too thick -- make them overall a very tasty snack and one that would, most likely, taste delicious with a cheese dip.
"They have a subtle flavor of beer," says Hamilton. "They are also a little bit sweet and salty. I think they’re fabulous. And I have not heard any bad feedback."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.