By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Feb 17, 2020 at 2:01 PM

Put down your snow shovels. It’s time to bundle up, grab a tasty beer and offer up a big fat wück you to the winter chill.

That’s because Wückfinter – the rollicking annual event hosted by Ray’s Wine & Spirits and 3 Floyd’s Brewing Co. – is coming. And you won’t want to miss the opportunity to get in on your share of rare brews, exceptional eats and the slew of winter wonders waiting to be enjoyed.

Festivities take place on Sunday, Feb. 23 from noon to 6 p.m. and include food from 3 Floyd’s culinary director (and former Wolf Peach chef) Cole Ersel, Bavette La Boucherie and Vanguard along with 27 3 Floyd’s brews, beer slushies, spiked hot chocolate and outdoor games like giant Jenga, Connect Four, bags and (if all goes well) beer pong. Wheel & Sprocket will also be showing off some of their winter biking gear from the Hugh Jaff fat bike series.

The food won't suck

Yeah, yeah.  This is a beer focused event. But, the food is going to be pretty amazing too.

For one, Cole Ersel (former Wolf Peach chef  and current culinary director for 3 Floyds Brewing & Distilling) will be serving up a fantastic looking menu of brewpub staples, plus a couple of new dishes created just for the event.

"We’re always excited to come up for this event at Ray's," says Ersel. "It's literally the biggest tap takeover that we do. In the end, we want to showcase what we do in Indiana, but also do something really different for Milwaukee."

Among the choices for Wückfinter, you'll find:

  • Bone Marrow Butter Burger with roasted shallot aioli, Alpha King cheddar, gem lettuce, sweet pickles, brioche ($11). "This is the only burger we do at the brewery," says Ersel, "And it’s a favorite. There’s parsley in the grind and we griddle it in bone marrow, with more on the bun."
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Bone marrow butter burger on deck — topped with roasted shallot aioli, cheddar, red leaf lettuce, and sweet pickles on a brioche bun 🍔

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  • Gyro Burrito featuring smoked lamb leg, tzatziki, iceburg, shaved onion, cucumber, feta, flour tortilla ($10). "Our goal is to create delicious craveable food…" says Ersel. "The gyro features three-day brined lamb that’s smoked, cooled and cut off the bone. And we’re using Pin Oak lamb leg, so it’s a little nod to Wisconsin."
  • Indiana Pork Tenderloin Sandwich showcasing a large fried pork loin cutlet, lettuce, tomato, onion, dijonnaise, brioche ($10). "This is essentially an oversized schnitzel sandwich," Ersel notes. "We don’t go quite as aggressive as some places in terms of the size of the pork loin; but the sandwich is classic Indiana. We brine the pork in the wort for Robert the Bruce, so it’s nice, tender and well seasoned."
  • Vegan Philly Cheesesteak with house made seitan, peppers, onions, mushrooms, "cheese whiz", hoagie ($9). "If I can get people who aren’t vegan to eat vegan food, then I’ve done my job," Ersel says. "Seitan is my choice meat substitute. It’s chewy and dense, so it’s great texturally. And it really soaks up flavor. This is actually a trial run for the dish, which we’re hoping to run on Dark Lord Day."
  • Nashville Steam Bun filled with hot chicken, habanero butter, spiced dill pickles, slaw, cayenne aioli (two per order, $7). "Since it’s likely going to be cold out there, we’re hoping to get at least a few people sweating with this one," he says, noting that there’s something spicy in every layer of these steamed buns, including the buns themselves, which are dusted with a spicy blend Ersel calls "chicken spice."
  • BBQ Beef Jerky, a top seller at 3 Floyds, starts with flank steak, thinly sliced, marinated, dry rubbed and then smoked until dry, but still tender ($9). "People travel for hours to eat this jerky," says Ersel.
  • S’more, a sweet treat featuring housemade marshmallow, chocolate crunch, Divine Right whiskey caramel, graham crumble ($5). "Last year we did creamsicles," says Ersel. "But serving popsicles in 5 degree weather wasn’t a great idea. So we’re going to try to do something different this year. This features housemade marshmallows with a graham gingersnap crumble, chocolate royaltine and a whiskey caramel made with Divine Right white whiskey. The whiskey hasn’t been aged, so it still has those spicy hot notes that lend themselves really well to the caramel."

But that’s not all.

Bavette La Boucherie will also be throwing down some stellar dishes including warming bone broth; grassfed beef chili (with sour cream and cheddar); foie gras hot dogs with cranberry mustard and pickled onion relish; a chicken bahn mi; a harissa roasted carrot pita with baba ghanoush, feta, dates and olives.

And Chef Patrick "Paddy" Joyce of The Vanguard has worked up a beer-infused menu featuring bratwurst and hot dogs (with a load of serve yourself toppings), along with specialty items like smoked venison cheddarwurst with fried kraut, Behemoth barleywine mustard and pickled cranberry preserves; vegan mushroom and Swiss sausage with cremini mushrooms, shallots, Behemoth barleywine mustard and crispy fried onions; a fried mortadella sammy with provolone, giardiniera aioli, lettuce, tomato, red wine vin on toasted brioche; and beer cheese potato soup made with Robert the Bruce, cheddar, Swiss and smoked gouda (served with or without brat slices)

The beer won't suck either

"There are definitely beers that folks will be excited about," says Orey Laev of Ray's Wine & Spirits. "The most obvious of them is the Dark Lord Vanilla Militia. But overall, it’s a pretty spectacular line-up."

And he’s not wrong. Beer will be available both inside and out and selections will include a combination of iconic classics and rare seldom-in-Wisconsin pours.

Among the host of 3 Floyd’s brews being served outside, you’ll find cans of Gumball Head, Alpha Khan, Alpha King, Arctic Panzer Wolf, Back Handed Panther, Necron 99, Robert the Bruce, Sköll, Speed Castle, Stone Feathers, Yum Yum and Zombie Dust.

You’ll also find a number of beers usually reserved for guests at the 3 Floyd’s brewpub. Those include:

  • Crom’s Beard, a single-hop IPA brewed with strata hops
  • Geordonnay, a Northern English Sour Brown Ale brewed with blackberries
  • Sauvage Flö, a crushable lager inspired by the "fresh style of Minnesota hockey hair"
  • Von Munsthür, a Pilsner with notes of flowers, lemongrass and herbs, a bitter punch and a dry, crisp finish

And if you like how that sounds, you'll want to check out the timed tappings which will take place outside about every 90 minutes throughout the event. They will include:

  • Cherry Canis Invertus, A tart Flemish-style red ale brewed with cherries.
  • Grapes of Smash, A tart mixed-fermentation Saison brewed with Chardonnay and Viognier grapes. Fermented and aged for over a year.
  • Dark Lord French Vanilla Militia, The sought after Russian-Style Imperial Stout aged in Sauternes barrels with vanilla, cocoa nibs and coffee
  • Alpha Kong, a super fruity, dry hopped, Belgian sextuple, with notes of cardamom

But, wait.  That’s not all.

Inside Ray’s Growler Gallery, beer buffs will also find gems like Behemoth, Blot Out the Sun, Deesko, Flying Tiger Salt, Lazer Snack, Malogo, Space Station Middle Finger and (of course) Zombie Dust.

There will also be the WückDeesko Slushie made with Deesko Berliner Weiss and infused with blueberry and mint; and hot chocolate spiked with liqueur to keep things nice and toasty.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.