The First Daze of Beer Giveaway?!

If you’re new here, welcome! Welcome to my blog. Welcome to my lifestyle. If you’re wondering what we do here, I would recommend going all the way back to the first post, which is essentially an expanded About section. From there, I would recommend that you read last year’s State of the Blog. After that, it doesn’t matter. You’ve caught the essence.

But what I am so excited to announce is that we are doing the FIRST Daze of Beer giveaway! Enter by December 23rd for your chance to win awesome swag from local craft brewers from all over Southeastern Wisconsin as well as some exclusive Daze of Beer merch.

To enter, just fill out the form below. And boom. You’re in! Also, read the rules? There aren’t many. We’re not big on rules in these here parts. Winner will be contacted via an overly emotional and quite gushy personal email from the founder of the blog (lol, me) by New Year’s Eve.

90s Brew Crawl, Minneapolis, MN

Your girl gets around. Which is not something most people would ever think of me. Partially because you should never judge or shame a girl for her proclivities, no matter how her actions are perceived by you, and also because I don’t really get around too much. But this time, we’re going to talk about how Nicole, my cousin Rachel, and I went to three Minneapolis breweries to celebrate our dear friend Kayla’s Golden Birthday. Now, as you know, I am not very good at writing in a timely fashion, so let me assure you. Kayla’s birthday was in September. She turned 28 on September 28th. And yes, it is December. And yes. I am just writing about this now. But bear with me. Like I said, I get around and when you get around, you’re not also known for your timeliness.

But anyways, we didn’t just go to one brewery in Minneapolis but rather, three.

The first place we went to was actually a cider-y, which means, they just did ciders. And, as we all know about your dear friend Natalie, ciders give me heartburn. But anyways, we went to Sociable Cider Werks and Nicole got a Rusty Chain, I got a Mead for Speed, and rachel got a Free Wheeler. Rachel’s Free Wheeler was super champaign-y, not to be confused the Champaign of Beers, which is actually just Miller High Life. While there, Nicole also tried their candy apple cider and the only note I have on that was that it was “alarming.”

The problem I had with Sociable was mainly that it was really small but also super busy. And I know that part of the problem was that Kayla was sporting an entourage of approximately thirty people all dressed in their finest 90s attire (did I mention that it was a 90s themed party? I was dressed super grunge but it was too cold for my attire because Minneapolis in September is like Milwaukee in October which is like Florida on a record-breaking cold day). But it wasn’t just her party that was taking up space, but it was just busy. And it was a Saturday afternoon, so that happens. But goddamn was it busy.

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So we moved on to Able Brewing, which, spoiler alert, was my favorite of the three breweries that we visited. The place had space and it was lowkey and everyone was very chill. I had a Cosmic Fruit and Nicole had a Blk Wlf. Rachel had water. She was DD-ing us because she’s a doll and I appreciate everything about my cousin and I am so lucky that she was willing to let Nicole and I stay with her and also to go out with us although she didn’t know Nicole that well and she didn’t know Kayla at all but she was still super game to dress up in 90’s apparel and hit up some bitchin’ breweries with us.

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It should also be mentioned that although Able was my favorite brewery, I can never go back there. I broke a glass within seconds of being there with a full fucking beer in it and it was terribly embarrassing. I never break glasses, that’s not my bag. But yet, there I was, craft beer on my booties.

But besides that, I loved that place and wish that I had more beer there. It was a small but focused tap list and the crowd was lowkey and the music was present but low. We hung out at a table next to two couples with a hipster little baby child that kept wandering off. I loved it. Everything about it. It was my kind of brewery. I aspire to visit again if I ever get back up to the Cities sometime soon. I mean, it shouldn’t be hard because that’s where Rachel and her husband Eric and live and they are delightful people and I love them, but I also always forget how much of a bitch that drive is. Six hours is all well and good until you try to stop at a Starbucks at quarter to 8 at night in bumfuck nowhere Wisconsin and they tell you they will not serve you because they are closed but the app definitely says they don’t close until 8pm and they were just being lazy and now you have to continue to drive another four hours back to Milwaukee sleepy and sad.

But I digress.

The last brewery we went to was Indeed Brewing, which was right down the street from Able. We walked there! It was cold! I was wearing a skirt and a crop top and fishnets! Again, it was fucking cold. But whatever. At Indeed I got a Day Tripper, which was really good, I think and Nicole got a Lucy. If memory serves correct, all of their beers were Beatles themed beer names. Honestly, this might be why I shortly thereafter had a dream that my friends and I opened a brewery where we had all Phish-themed beers.

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And, about Phish-themed beers, unrelated to our time in Minneapolis, but MobCraft Brewing will be brewing an experimental small batch of one of my Phish-themed beers that I dreamt about. Scent of a Mule Ginger IPA coming to the MobCraft taproom soon (probably in January? Maybe December?) I’ll keep y’all posted on that front later.

But back to Minneapolis in September. After Nicole and I finished off our beers, we decided to hit up a liquor store and get drunk in Rachel’s basement watching Match Game. It was like a warmer, more wholesome fun than rolling around the mean streets of Minneapolis looking to score some smack and ass. I kid. I roll around the mean, cold streets of Milwaukee without concern.

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Also, I visited a Margaritaville at the Mall of America because you know I love me some Landshark.

Minneapolis actually had a super cool craft beer scene that I definitely only got a small sampling of while up there. But I want to go back and maybe soon (but maybe not soon). Also, the next couple of posts are still going to be far from Wisconsin and you will find me somewhere more serial killer-y. What? you say. What could be more serial killer-y than Wisconsin? And to that, I must say, somewhere a bit more PNW-y. But until then, farewell.

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Milwaukee Brewing, the New 9th Street Location

Want to hear about one of the most delightful events to happen all year in the city of Milwaukee? No? Then get the fuck out because I’m about to tell you guys everything. Every year the city welcomes everyone everyone from all around into their fine city and tells them that they can just kinda mosey around into whatever building they feel like (as long as it’s on the list) and then you learn about the city and the things it has to offer! There are legitimately a hundred and fifty different buildings and businesses and organizations that welcome the public to come marvel that the wonders of what they do and how they help contribute to the vibrant and mystical aura that is the city. Every year there are some “spotlight neighborhoods” to lure people (namely white people from the suburbs) into neighborhoods that are beautiful and thriving, but they might not normally visit because of their inherent racism and fear. This year’s spotlight neighborhoods were Mitchell Street, MLK Drive, and Oak Creek.

Honestly? I did not go to any of the spotlight neighborhoods, not because of very true reality that Mitchell Street is very hispanic and MLK Drive is predominantly an African-American neighborhood but more so because I was hellbent on seeing every goddamn church in this entire goddamn city. And I did a pretty good job. And how did I reward myself by seeing so many churches all across downtown and the East Side? By starting my Sunday of day two of Door’s Open Milwaukee at the new Milwaukee Brewing 9th Street location with Ashley!

Here’s where my Wisconsinite shines through. Ashley and I ventured out to have an “early brunch,’ aka breakfast, at Goodkind here in Bay View where we started drinking at, oh, I don’t know, 9am? Then we caught a Lyft up to 9th Street, where we wanted to check out the Brewhouse Inn, which is a hotel that they built inside a converted old Pabst building. Honestly, the whole neighborhood over there is the old Pabst complex and some of the buildings have been revitalized and repurposed into new businesses or leveled and built upon. There are lofts and offices and various other things in that neighborhood and it’s very cool. Still downtown and quite walkable to 3rd Street or the Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center or (dare I say it?) the Hop, but kind of out of the way. No one goes up that hill to the brewery complex because up until the last 5 years, those were just abandoned buildings that were used twenty some years ago for making beer. But now they are being made into something more useful than just a waste of valuable property downtown.

Anyways, as I ramble, I should get back to the point. The New Milwaukee Brewing location. They still have their 2nd Street location down in Walker’s Point, but this new place is bigger and also a tap room with a full menu. Ashley and I did not eat because, as I mentioned, we just came from brunch (breakfast) but we were looking to drink. So we ordered some beers.

Ashley ordered the Oktoberfest beer because it was late September and that’s Oktoberfest beer season! I don’t like Oktoberfest beers, however, so I ordered a bold choice. A Hop-Freak, which is a 8.7% double IPA. And it was delicious. But it was too goddamn early for someone to drink two beers at 8.7%, especially since we had a full day of churches and buildings and hotels to check out. But that did not stop me from ordering a second beer, of course. My second beer was a Citron Saison, which, looking back on my Untapped profile, I noted that it tasted good but smelled off, thus making it a wild experience. And I do remember that. The bartender and I spent a lot of time trying to discuss why I might not like that beer but I also think I did like it?

Rh60hpJvQWuDfymMYOaywQ.jpg And this brings me to a point that I do feel like I have to touch on, which is the whole vibe of the place created by the bartenders and waitstaff. First off, Ashely and I were sitting right next to the the servers’ drink station, so I overheard a lot of talk between the bartenders and the servers and guess what? They hate each other. Like, profoundly and deeply cannot stand the other person. Not fun banter. But palpable and uncomfortable disdain. They were constantly bitching at each other and nitpicking and then when the servers would walk away with their drinks and then the bartenders would shittalk the servers behind their back. This isn’t like me listening to bartenders talk about which girls they took to which DMB show like at Good City, this was like me being physically uncomfortable listening to the horrible things a pony-tailed bartender was saying about a blonde server. I mean, I hate confrontation, whether it involves me or not, but this felt toxic. I know that not all coworkers can be friends, but there needs to be a united front against the enemy– the customer, but instead, they were infighting. And it was weird to be around.

Overall, Milwaukee’s 9th Street location was everything I hated in a brewpub. It was clean, it was shiney, it had no character. Also, there was a lot of living wall bullshit going on, which I hate. It had no character and it was stripped of the history that the Pabst neighborhood contained around it. But Milwaukee still turns out some good beers and I do still like to drink Milwaukee beers, and MKE does still offer their “all you care to spill” tours that I would love to go on some day. But I don’t see any reason to cruise back up there just for a few beers.

Oh, also, on the whole “just grabbing a beer” front. The place is definitely angling themselves to be a restaurant first. When we walked in, three people approached us all together (maybe they were training or maybe they were just bored?) and asked how many. I said “Oh, we’re just here for a few drinks. Can we sit at the bar?” And the three of them looked at each other confused and were like, “Oh. Yeah, sure. I guess?” And then when we sat at the bar, the bartender really pushed their brunch menu on us although we told him several times “Oh, we just came from brunch. We’re just grabbing a few beers.” I don’t know if this was just an off day or if they really want to put a spotlight on their menu at this location and if you just want a beer, you can go to their taproom in the Third Ward (or just drink one of their beers at literally any bar in the state). I don’t know.

So my final conclusion is MKE Brewing still has great beer. We all knew that. Their 9th Street brewpub, though, leaves something to be desired.

New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus, WI

Miracles be damned, the story carries on to another Wisconsin institution. New Glarus Brewing. So, this year I decided to be a good daughter and take off on September 14th to celebrate my father’s birthday with him since I had a full day of activities lined up on Saturday (his actual birthday) and also the day before (September 13th) was the beer release party for Stitch and Snitch at MobCraft. So I had this day off to both be a good daughter and to recover in the event that I drank too much at the release party. For the record, I did not drink too much because I’m an adult, but it was still nice to have the day off.

Although it was once again ungodly hot. Like, miserably hot. So I rode out to Monroe with my parents to check out the Cheese Days festival, which I’m sure would’ve been super cool if I wasn’t so miserably, god-awfully hot that day. After that we headed up to New Glarus because it was only twenty minutes away and we thought we should check out the brewery.

First, let me say, that this was not my family’s first venture to the New Glarus Brewery, but it has been a good ten or fifteen years since the last time we went there and no one remembered it at all. Mainly because they’ve done radical remodels of the brewery and surrounding. I guess if I am digging into the vague and repressed parts of my memory from my middle school years (which is when I believe we went out there) the brewery was small and industrial. Now it is big and shiny and welcoming to visitors. The only formally guided tours they do are on Fridays at 1pm, otherwise it’s all self guided.

We walked through and read the posters and looked in windows and admired the beautiful people just trying to do their jobs while hundreds of tourists filtered in and out to stare at them. I went up a staircase that went to nowhere. We watched as bottles shot down a line like the opening scenes in Laverne and Shirley. It was beautiful. Then afterwards we went into the beer garden for my parents to have some drinks.

The thing about the beer garden was that I didn’t understand the theme. It seemed more like a beautifully done replica of some Tuscan ruins, which doesn’t exactly scream BEER. I think, honestly they were going for a German thing, and maybe it was working, but it didn’t feel like it was working to me. To me, it was Italy. Or more accurately, the Italian Pavilion in Epcot Centre’s World Showcase. But it was Germany or something, apparently.

Anyways, I was hot and didn’t feel great. Mostly I was hungry. Profoundly and deeply hungry. But my dad wasn’t really interested in indulging my whims of food because he felt that I should have filled up more at the Cheese Festival. Which is true. This is was mostly my fault. But the thing about New Glarius is that while they do put out different beers on occassion, they are more of a tried-and-true kind of place. They have their standards and their seasonals and you know what you’re getting. Now, I was going to tell you what they had, but I just went and pulled up my notes app and saw that I do not have any notes.

What I do remember for sure, is that my dad got a Staghorn. That’s it. That’s what I remember. Again, this is not the place you go for useful or good information on beer. This is where you go to see the ramblings of a madwoman.

But on the upside, after we left, on our drive home we stopped at the World’s Largest Culver’s and I got a scoop of the flavor of the day, which was s’mores. See, I remember the important stuff.

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A Life Update: Before the Journey Continues

Friends,

There are several things coming down the line over the next couple of weeks, including a review of Milwaukee Brewing’s new 9th Street location and a 90s Themed Brew Crawl in Minneapolis. But before we get there, I just wanted to touch base about how my life is about to dramatically change and what that means for the blog.

I quit my job.

And I have no backup plan.

And I’m just going to wing it from here.

What does that mean for the blog? Well, until I find future employment, I am hoping that means more regular and consistent posts. It also means that I don’t know how much traveling or beer I will be able to afford to drink for the time being. I am working on making sure that I have somethings in place as backup to hold me over until I come across my next full-time employment opportunity, but until then, I’m on my own. I don’t have parents or a significant other that I can fall back on and help me out. I have a meager savings account that will sustain me for less than a month and some wit and charm.

But, I do hope that by no longer having to report to my current day job every day, I will be able to find the strength and energy that I have been lacking over the last couple of years. I have talked about it on the blog a bit, but I’ve been battling an extreme bout of depression on and off for the last eighteen months. What has not helped with my depression has been my job. In fact, I would argue that it has made it worse.

For the first time in my life, I relied on Xanax to get me through my day every day and it was the only thing that kept me from nervously throwing up in the bathroom every day when my stress and anxiety peaked. That’s not to say I haven’t thrown up in the bathroom at work because of these things, but it’s not every day. I’m working on be better.

The mere act of putting in my notice at my job as alleviated a lot of anxiety, which is horrifying considering the fact that I am planning on being unemployed. Well, not planning on it, but just am going to be without a job, and thus, without income. Coupled with the fact that in just two months, I will be kicked off my parents insurance, I really picked a hell of a time to just wing it.

But this is the first time in my life I don’t have a plan. Or even a notion for a plan. Or a want of a plan. I planned on college. After college I planned on grad school, but then decided to make Disney my plan. After Disney I planned to get a good job. When I got a not-so-good job, I planned on going back to grad school. When I didn’t do that, I just kept going to my day job every single day until the stress and anxiety peaked with me googling how many Xanax it would take to not kill me but seriously hospitalize me enough to have a valid reason not to go to work or have to speak to my friends the next day. Turns out, Xanax probably won’t kill you in any dosage but can royally fuck up all your inner workings. I quit my job the next day after I did that. I needed to. I probably should also go back to therapy and discuss that with someone, but I decided to just put it out publically on the internet to ruin any chance of future employment and to give insurance companies hard evidence of a pre-existing condition that would allow them to deny me coverage in the future.

So I’m going on without a plan. And I like that. It feels liberating. I don’t know what adults are “supposed” to do anymore, because everything I tried to do “right” left me anxious and depressed and something adjacent to suicidal. Maybe traditional adulthood isn’t the right path for me. I don’t need to compete with my cousins who are all married and buying houses and painting rooms to be nurseries, or my sister who just moved in with her long-term boyfriend and got her “dream job” right out of undergrad and got accepted into an amazing university for grad school that her “dream job” is paying for her to attend. I don’t need to be that person. I just need to find my path and allow my path to move me.

So right now I am going to be unemployed. And I am going to keep writing on my blog and welcoming my friends to also write on this blog, although they all say they will and no one can turn out content in a timely fashion. Not that I’m the one to throw shade, but also, come on. I can usually get a post out once a month and my friends can’t manage more than one post in a year.

But anyways, that’s besides the point. The point is my life is about to get wild.

Coming soon will be a post on New Glarius, followed by rapid-fire MSP brewery review, and MKE brewing’s new taproom. Also, I’ve got some content from Portland coming up and maybe something a little more international on the horizon. But more about that later.

Stick with me guys. We’re about to get a whole lot more… alcoholic.

Good City Brewing, Lower East Side, Milwaukee

What I was supposed to be doing on this day, the day in which I visited Good City Brewing, was attending an exciting double date day with Jake and my cousin Kaitlyn and her husband Andy where we were supposed to go to Third Space Brewing to celebrate their 2nd anniversary and then we were going to pop over the Great Lakes Distillery to just continue drinking until finally one of us blacked out, tripped, and ended up in some river. What happened, however, is Kaitlyn and Andy got tickets to the first Packer game of the season and canceled on us and so I canceled on Jake (or he canceled on me) (or we mutually decided to just not do anything) and my sister and I decided to just walk around the East Side to enjoy the natural beauty of a very lively, vibrant part of our city.

First, let me just talk about my love of the East Side. Everyone says Bay View is just “the East Side with parking” but personally, I find their vibes quite different. Bay View is where you move when you have your first kid. It’s mostly duplexes and there are yards. Things are spread out. There’s a Target. The East Side is young, trendy children who just graduated from UWM and aren’t quite ready to give up their lifestyle of drinking PBR at 4pm and smoking a joint in a dreamily, romanticized fashion out the window of their 100 year old apartment building while musing on the filmmaking masterpieces that Wes Anderson is cranking out bi-annually. You’re enamored with quirk and craft beer. You dreamed of moving to a city like New York or Boston or Chicago, but you’re stuck here. In Milwaukee. The East Side is as close to Brooklyn living as you’ll find in Wisconsin. They aren’t hipsters, not like the broke hipsters of Riverwest or the old hipsters of Bay View, they are just… aimless.

So Emily and I were wandering around the East Side, from Brady to North. And along our stroll from bustling Brady, filled with mid-thirties suburbanites trying to recapture their glory days of being untethered by kids and mortgages and corporate jobs and old hippies who were wistfully, publicly smoking weed and reminiscing about the glory days of Brady, when it was like Milwaukee’s own Haight, up to the Whole Foods on North where the crowd slowly transitioned into a younger vibe, college kids over zealously enjoying their first weekend of college away from their helicopter parents they left behind in Northern Wisconsin in the “big city,” we walked past Good City Brewing.

Upon our first pass, we were still full from our breakfast enjoyed at Qdoba with our parents (highly recommend Qdoba breakfast if you can find it somewhere near you), so we decided to put it on the “maybe” list for our afternoon activities and kept on walking. When we decided to return back to the car so we could drive up to Riverwest (always a mistake, I hate Riverwest people desperately) we walked past it again and decided, hell. Might as well have a flight.

Before venturing into Good City’s Farwell taproom and brewpub, I was already quite familiar with a couple of their beers that I had enjoyed in cans. Specifically their Motto APA that I have taken many places with me. Like to Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War and Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again. Okay, mostly I’ve just snuck this beer into the movies with me, but it’s good and I really like it. But what I was not expecting was to walk into their taproom and be handed a beer menu and to be confronted with 10 beers, 8 of which were in the IPA-family.

It is well established that I love IPAs. I could drink them all day. I’m even coming around to the idea of session IPAs so I can actually drink them all day without getting piss drunk after three of them. But Emily does not like IPAs and when you decide to split a flight because it’s noon and you’ve both got places to be (even if those places are just Riverwest) and you want to be a Good Blogger™, being faced with only 2 non-IPA options for beer is not too welcoming. Also, I find it lazy to predominantly offer IPAs as your beer options. IPAs are incredibly easy to make. You just keep throwing hops at the wall until you are satisfied that some asshole in a flannel is going to sniff it and say “wow, super floral” and then take a sip and with wide eyes proudly proclaim “DAMN that’s hoppy!”

But anyways, what we ended up getting in our four-pour flight was the Film Fest Lager, only available in September for the Milwaukee Film Fest season (yes, Milwaukee as a film festival, no. It doesn’t matter to literally anybody), the Varietal #9 which was Belgian style pale ale, the Motto APA, and the Reward triple IPA. As a good sister, should I have gotten a triple IPA when I knew that I was supposed to be sharing these beers with my sister who does not like IPAs? No. But did I have much choice in the matter? Not really. The breakdown was pretty simple. Emily really liked the Film Fest Lager, as did I. But I also was pretty cool with the Motto APA and Reward triple. Neither of us liked the Varietal 39, however. I think we’re just not very into Belgian style beers. Quite wheat-y in general.

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Anyways, the place seemed pretty sanitized. Classic brewpub with tables and full servers and garage doors that were open onto the beautiful early fall day. The usual. There was nothing that really stuck out or wow-ed me about the place, other than the fact that the food smelled so good. But the bartenders weren’t anything remarkable. They mostly had some drama about Dave Matthews going on behind the bar, and as it is no longer 1998, having Dave Matthews related drama is exhausting for me to listen to. Especially as a patron of a bar and not someone who actively chose to associated with people who mark all their major life events by who they were dating at which Dave Matthews’ concert.

I apologize that this isn’t a better or more informative post about Good City. I was just underwhelmed by the entire experience. I think my cousin Kaitlyn said it best when she told me “Oh, I always call that place Okay City.” Because that’s what it is. Just okay. They make a shitton of IPAs and they do it just fine. It’s nothing that I would go out of my way for. I can’t imagine there is much variety you can have when all you’re brewing is forty seven different IPAs. But there’s always next time.

And speaking of next time, my next post will be about New Glarius Brewing, found only in Wisconsin. Don’t get too excited, because I didn’t have any beer there!

2nd Annual Wisconsin IPA Fest, Menomonee Valley, Milwaukee

Well shit. If it’s not another post in the same decade. Must be the sign of end times. But here I am, writing to you about something that happen like three days ago*. That’s right, fam. Three DAYS ago. Not months. Not years. Days. And what’s the reason for this? First, I am trying to be more timely in my writing in general. And second, the blog is called daze of beer. Not yerez of beer. So, I present, on this dreary Tuesday following a hellishly hot Saturday the tale of the second annual Wisconsin IPA Festival hosted by Third Space.

This is the second time that we have visited Third Space and also the second time that we visited for a fun celebration on an ungodly hot day. If you recall correctly for the last time we went to Third Space last September, it was also well into the 90s that day. It makes for standing around outside drinking IPAs rather unenjoyable, but as we are consummate professionals, we still did our best to drink and drink and drink and drink. So we decided to buy five drink tickets a piece when we started our endeavor. Now, head’s up. This means that we each had five different kinds of IPAs. Not full pours, obviously, but it’s still a lot of ground to cover so let me just quickly throw down what we were drinking.

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Round one: Ashley and I both had the Closer Everywhere IPA from Hacienda Beer Co. and we both loved it. Like, deeply, profoundly loved this beer. It was almost too bad that we started on such a good note because it set an impossibly high standard for the rest of the IPAs to live up to. Jake’s first beer was MobCraft IPA, which I gave him so much shit for because we go to MobCraft every week and for some reason he decided to still get their IPA instead of something from a brewery that we are not as close to or do not frequent literally. Every. Week. But regardless, he liked it. And I knew he would because it’s a good IPA and I know it’s a good IPA because I have had it before, numerous times, as we go to MobCraft. Every. Fucking. Week.

Round two: I had the Hopped By Ziggy IPA from New Barons Brewing Coop. I didn’t like it. I’m sorry but I just did not like this IPA. It tasted like nothing. No flavor whatsoever. It wasn’t even that “oh, I just taste a shitton of hops.” It wasn’t even that. It was literally like drinking a Miller Lite they forgot to sprinkle a flavor packet into. Ashley’s second beer was Zed Cloud with Motueka Hops from Lion’s Tail Brewing Co. out of Neenah. She liked it. I don’t honestly remember what she had to say about it although I do believe this is the beer she insisted I take down a direct quote for and I just didn’t because it was really hot and I had to drink fast or else my beer would also get hot. Jake’s second beer was the Bitter Bitch from Biloba Brewing. He didn’t like it. It was too bitter. And then someone made a comment that it must be what I taste like. Because I, too, am a bitter bitch.

Round three: I got the Tropidelico IPA from Gathering Place Brewery and I really liked it. I love a very citrus-y IPA. And then here’s also where things got dicey because Ashley tried to get Demon Haze from Eagle Park Brewing Co. but they were actually out of it, so she ended up getting the Space Whistle IPA from Company Brewing, which she still liked. Jake’s third beer was Mosiac Theory from Component Brewing. Jake’s assessment was that the beer didn’t have much flavor.

Round four: This was a big one for me, guys. I got the Galaxy IPA from Octopi Brewing and I adored it. It tasted like Blue Moon ice cream. That’s right. My favorite flavor of ice cream which is an illusive flavor that is hard to describe because it’s so firmly rooted in it’s chemical makeup that it never occurs naturally but that is what this beer tasted like. I was so into it that I tried to see how other people described it on Untappd and Beer Advocate and other people were also struggling to articulate the flavor of the beer, which is exactly how I also feel about having to articulate what blue moon ice cream tastes like! So brilliant. Ashley’s fourth beer was Juju the Avenger from Rock County Brewing. She had some very unpleasant things to say about this beer. It would be indelicate to repeat them here in this high class blog. And Jake’s fourth beer was Juice Packets Citra from The Fermentorium. I think he liked it enough. He doesn’t like IPAs though, so this whole day was a hard read for me on what Jake was thinking about any particular beer.

Closing round: I had the NZF from Lucky’s 1313 Brew Pub which I don’t remember drinking. Not because I was sloshed after five four ounce pours, but more so because it was so hot and all I could think about was how hot I was. Ashley’s last beer was the Bunny Green Toe from Lake Louie Brewing. Again, I don’t know what she thought about it. Jake’s last beer was Ride Fast Take Chances from Fifth Ward Brewing Co, which I do remember him liking. Especially since it was Fifth Ward Brewing Co out of Oshkosh and not someone trying to call Walker’s Point the Fifth Ward again.

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And then he bounced because it was goddamn hot guys. But I will say, the beer that won the People’s Choice award for best IPA was the festival was the Demon Haze IPA, which is you recall from scrolling up, was also the IPA that Ashley tried to order and they were already out of. So I think everyone sort of saw that coming in terms of what the People’s Choice beer was. I voted for the first beer I had, for the record, the Closer Everywhere IPA from Hacienda Beer Co. The IPA that was named best in Wisconsin from the experts that be was Upward Spiral from Third Space, which I didn’t have at the festival, but it is definitely a staple of my home beer stock. I almost always have either Upward Spiral or Happy Place stocked up in my kitchen, so I’m glad to see them getting recognized for having such an outstanding beer.

Honestly, I love Third Space beers and I love going over to their brewery and I am going to have to find an excuse to head over there on a typical day, maybe on a day that hell is firmly contained below Earth’s crust and now just leaking into life.

*This now happened over a month ago, but I still wrote it three days after the fact and I’m

Brewery Rapid Fire Review: Life Updates

My friends, it has been a hot minute. Although I just finally released part two of City of Beertherly Love, there is a lot of content I intended to write that I am just going to reel off quick here to get the slate cleared for the rest of the year.

My life has been hectic, and beer drinking has become rote. Since Philadelphia, I have traveled to Los Angeles, Montreal, and Colorado and enjoyed beer in almost all of these places. At the time, I had great intentions about writing individually about all of these topics (except for Montreal, as we never went to a brewery and the only beer I drank was Coors Light). But, like we all know, life ran away from me.

In Los Angeles, I went to two breweries. Three Weavers and another one that I don’t even remember the name of. How bad is that? I didn’t even make notes on either one. Three Weavers was in a warehouse district and I remember really liking the beers there. JD, his roommate Craig, and I sat outside and cultivated some sunburns while playing pub games and drinking beer. After that we went back to JD’s for an afternoon chill sesh, and after that, we went to another brewery, but by that time of the day, my brain was fogged by beer and life and I just never made a note or anything. Nothing. No notes. I don’t even know where we were. Just somewhere near JD’s apartment. It was good though. I had a sour there that I believe had a Peter Pan-y type name. Or maybe I was making false memories because I knew that the next morning, I was head to Disneyland bright and early and just wanted everything to be a Disney reference. Either way, Los Angeles seems to have a beer scene that would be cool to explore but unfortunately, I didn’t really like LA that much and don’t know if I will be venturing back there any time soon, especially knowing that JD is moving.

My next trip was Montreal, where, thanks to food poisoning on day one, left me not feeling too eager to drink at all. Before going, I tried researching breweries, but the fact that I do not speak french made it hard to find a place to go. So we did not go to any breweries. Craft beer is kind of an bullshit American hobby anyways. But while there, I did have two Coors Lights. That’s it. I feel shame. Don’t worry.

In Colorado, I went to Odell’s with Nicole and her high school best friend Nathan and had their “locals” flight. It consisted of the Colorado Lager, Drumroll APA, Rupture Fresh Grind Ale, Odell IPA, and Myrcenary Double IPA. We had a fun time there. Don’t remember much about the beers, but I do know that I was excited to check it out because I had started stealing Odell’s beers from our tiny house mates at Caitlyn and Luke’s wedding and was really eager to check out the brewery after enjoying the illicit brews. (Thanks Lindsey and Andrew for the beer. Check out Lindsey’s amazing photography in your free time or her IG which is flawless.)

The last rapid-fire brewery update is that in July we went to a food truck rally in Riverwest, right here in Milwaukee, hosted by Gathering Place Brewing. The rally was busy and it took forever to wait for beer from the beer tent, and they quickly ran out of beer from local breweries, so we wandered inside Gathering Place. It’s a chill little brew op going on in Riverwest, but it’s one of those places where the brew room and tap room are not separated, so the whole thing smelled like grain and yeast. Which is not my jam. But it was cute. I look forward to going back some other time. I do need to start seeing more things in Riverwest.

And that’s essentially just what I have to say. I’m sorry that my summer has run away from me and this endeavor I ventured on last MAY with the intent to visit every brewery in Milwaukee has gone so far off the rails that here we are winding down on our second summer and I don’t have much to show for it. It’s amazing what a little prescription Vitamin D and anti-depressants can do. Suddenly I’m too busy to drink beer because I’m not chronically depressed? What? Insanity. but anyways, the next post is about the Wisconsin IPA Festival that we went to a couple weeks ago. It’s completely written, but I wanted to get this out into the wild first just so you know that I have not totally forgotten about this blog. I am really trying hard to get my writing back on track, but my God, I have been busy.

 

2nd Story Brewing, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia treated me well. Ever since my adventures to Utah last summer where I thought I would be just fine and suffered greatly at the hands of a society that is incredibly restrictive of their booze and women, I have this lurking sense of anxiety when I decide to do things alone and independently. It hasn’t stopped me. Clearly you’ve seen how far I’ve come on my solo travels since my post nearly a year ago about my visit to Squatters but that doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t think about that feeling of being stranded in a city where you don’t know anybody and everything just sucks. But that feeling didn’t even begin to cross into my consciousness when I was in Philly because I had a great time.

Monday morning, after spending the night with Nicole in Baltimore, I caught a bus back to Philly to continue my urban exploration of the City of Brotherly Love. The weather was gorgeous, warm but not hot, and the people were the perfect mix of disinterested in my bullshit and caught up in their own. My first stop back in the city was not a brewery, but rather, the Mutter Museum. I’d highly recommend checking it out. After that, I strolled around the city without much plan. I didn’t necessarily feel like I needed to hit up another brewery so I didn’t even make the effort. However, fate had other plans, and as I wandered around, wondering what I should do with my final two hours before I needed to head back to the airport, I stumbled upon 2nd Story Brewing while trying to figure out where I was and why was the road closed, even to foot traffic.

As I am an “adult” with a “real” job that forces me to be in an office from approximately 9am to 5pm every day, much as the Dolly Parton song suggests, I am not very well acquainted with the 2pm on a Monday brewery scene. But not to fear, because most people probably aren’t. I say that because I was one of two people in the entire place. 2nd Story is more of a brewpub, which means they have a full menu and a very restaurant-y vibe. I would have loved to eat there, but I had already eaten at Five Guys about an hour and a half prior and was in no mood for more food. But that is alright, because that left enough room to drink four beers. At 2pm. On. A. Monday.

The first beer I had was the Pier 53, which was an America IPA. Now, let’s talk about this term. “American” IPA. I was always under the impression that there are IPAs and there are APAs, but in my time in Philadelphia, I learned of the term “American IPA.” But here’s the rub. I still don’t know if they are different or not. Some places on the web are just like “APAs are America IPAs” and other places are like “no, they are similar but NOT the same.” I also consulted Nicole on this matter, but since she knows just about as much about beer as I do she was also very confused. But regardless, it was good.

Also, while I was sitting at the bar, the bar manager and restaurant manager had very different ideas on what kind of music they should be listening to and the poor bartender seemed to be stuck in between. The bar manager was very into the Grateful Dead and the restaurant manager was very into Tom Petty and they kept switching back and forth, and bitching at the poor bartender for allowing the other guy to change the music. At first I thought it was a friendly kind of joke, but over the course of my two hours at this brewery, sitting at the bar, with no one else in the place to dilute the experience, I realized that they were not fucking around.

My second beer was a Anniversary Triple IPA. I think I enjoyed it, but I also think I found it a little too hoppy. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited almost three months to write this and then I could’ve had a more insightful thought on the matter, but unfortunately, I have been busy being a social butterfly and not a depressed shut-in as of late, so I haven’t gotten around to writing while the memories were fresh.

The third and forth beers I had were both their Que Hora Es? Mexican Lager. It was like a Landshark, but better! But still, I would rather have a Landshark for the sake of irony alone.

Overall, I would say this was  radically different kind of brewery than Evil Genius. This was very refined, traditional, and focused on your classic “beer flavors” whereas Evil Genius was really big on the kitschy and kooky things you can do with beer. That doesn’t make one better than the other, but just that they are radically different places with completely different styles of beer.

But the one thing I would like to note about 2nd Story is not about their beer, but about their bathrooms. There bathrooms are the most inclusive bathrooms I have used outside of a liberal arts college campus. They didn’t have men’s or women’s restrooms but rather just “restrooms.” You walked into this space with a long line of sinks, turned a corner, and there was a long line of floor to ceiling stalls. You walked into your little cube, used it, walked out, and washed your hands. Everyone was together. In one place. It didn’t matter who you were or how you identified. You just peed and went on your way to the communal hand wash station. That is amazing, especially for a city with such a reputation as Philadelphia. I loved it.

So, in close, Philadelphia is great and I can’t wait to go back. They had so many breweries I didn’t get a chance to visit but the two I went to were amazing. Can’t wait for the next adventure in the City of Beertherly Love.

Evil Genius Beer Company, Philadelphia, PA

Picture it: Thursday, April 19th. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A weary case manager sits at her desk with her officemate and boss brainstorming quick weekend getaways to help her manage the lingering winter blues that have gotten her down. Anything within 8 hours. Those are the only guidelines. No reasonable solution is offered. The hope of a weekend away dims. Fast-forward three hours, she sits at her desk, eating some sort of leftover from the previous night that cannot quell her hunger for adventure. She’s clicking through Google Flights, trying to look forward to her summer trip to Colorado. And then she sees it. Airfare. $6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Good God, that must be a mistake. $6? There must be a missing zero or a decimal error or something. But no. It is not a mistake. Within minutes, she has herself booked on a $6 one way flight to Philly and $6 back. Between terrorism fees and taxes, she has herself a $25 round trick ticket to the city of Brotherly Love leaving Sunday morning and returning Monday night. She did it. She escaped the Good Land another time.

Dramatic? Yes. But guys! I went to Philadelphia! One two days notice! With no plans! And nothing but a backpack! Was it crazy and impulsive? Yes. Did I have a good time? Yes. Did I drink beer? Of. Fucking. Course I drank beer. So welcome to this fine edition of the blog where I talk about one of the most delightfully silly and meta and nostalgic breweries I could have come across. Evil Genius Beer Co. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

So, I have been trying to get out to Philly for a while, but this trip was so sudden and unexpected I had nothing in mind when I got off the plane at Philadelphia International Airport. I didn’t research any breweries and all I had was a note on my phone with a list of things recommended to me by my officemate. And his list was mostly comprised of his sentimental attachment to his hometown and less interested in my base pleasures, which is beer.

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The actual list.

But anyways, I found myself standing in the designated rideshare pick-up area frantically googling “breweries philadelphia” because I had nothing planned and I just chose the first one that popped up on the “near me” list without even looking at their website. And can I tell you how big of a mistake this was? Just kidding. It was actually one of the most perfectly random Google suggestions that could have crossed my way.

My Lyft driver was quite concerned about my course of action, I must say. He told me numerous times he would never be okay with his daughter, no matter how old she was, just blindly wandering the streets of Philadelphia alone and into some brewery without any plan or purpose. And when he pulled up to the curb, he asked if I felt safe getting out and if I didn’t, he would take me somewhere else. Other than the obviously questionable subway that ran overhead, it was very much the neighborhood you find a brewery. People were hugging in the streets. There was a place on the corner serving brunch with a cute chalkboard sidewalk sign out front. This is where my people were. This is where I belonged. Of course, before I truly departed from my Lyft, I told the driver if I was stabbed, I would haunt the shit out of his car. But we had a good rapport so I do not feel guilty about this at all.

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First nice day in Philly, so the windows were open.

Walking in, the place had just opened. It was 12pm on a Sunday and there were two guys sitting at the small space at the bar, and another bunch at a table. To order, you walk up to the counter and they have a small queue system in place. I decided to go for a five-pour flight to start my day and stood and stared at the board behind the taps with wonder and awe. While having a brewery theme is, to an extent, niche and obnoxious, it can be done right. As mentioned in the Broken Bat post, some themes can be fun. I will also say that the specific theme that Evil Genius was going for also had the ability to be tacky or abused or too kitschy. But, they handled it with grace and dignity, and I was not annoyed by it. Which is saying something as I am annoyed by almost everything. All their beers were named (maybe inspired?) as pop culture references. It was like the Gilmore Girls of beer, really.

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The beer menus were on VHS clamshell cases.

So, as I stated, I got a five pour flight to start. The beers I got in the flight were the Kill It! Kill It With Fire!, #ICANTEVEN, ET Goes Home, Aziz! Lights!, and Scotty Doesn’t Know. The Kill It! was a style of beer that I am not familiar with at all. Mostly because I don’t know anything about beer and I have been running a beer blog for over a year now (I know this because I just paid for another year at this beautiful domain) and I still don’t know shit. But anyways, it was a Biere de Garde with plum and elderberry.  I thought it was good but I didn’t quite get the plum and elderberry flavors. The thing I did appreciate about this beer was that it was beer. That might sound silly, but with a lot of beers (especially some of the ones I’m about to talk about in this very post) with the experimental IPAs and sours, the taste of beer is lost to the kookiness. But this beer was beer, which is something I want to start getting back to more. Beer flavored beer.

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The #ICANTEVEN was a watermelon blonde ale which I did not like. Not because the beer was bad but because it tastes like watermelon. Guess what family? I hate watermelon. I hate it so much. Now, you might be wondering, “Hey, dumb ass, if you hate watermelon, why did you order a beer that was supposed to taste like watermelon?” And the short answer of it is that I am, in fact, a dumb ass. The long answer is that I like watermelon flavored things. Like Jolly Ranchers and juice. But this beer legitimately tasted like watermelon, not the chemically reproduced in a lab equivalent of a memory of what watermelon used to taste like once upon a time before the Great War. I think that speaks to how the beer was made (with real watermelon I would guess) but it also means that I had a hard time finishing it. (But I did finish it because I’m a Guida and Guidas don’t leave beer on the table. That’s alcohol abuse.)

The ET Goes Home was a Double IPA that tasted like strawberry milkshake. Or at least that is what is was supposed to taste like on paper. In practice, in my notes, I wrote that the gimmick outsold the taste. Philly was nearly a month ago at the time of me writing this (timeliness be damned) so I’m not sure I have more to elaborate on the matter.

The Aziz! Lights! falls into the same category as the #ICANTEVEN which is simply. I am an idiot. This was a cucumber IPA, and I am sure to someone it is refreshing, but I don’t like cucumber. Why did I order this? It tasted like cucumber. Unless a cucumber has spent the majority of it’s life in vinegar and comes out a pickle, I will not eat it. I will not let it diffuse in my beverages. I won’t let Jimmy John’s put it on my veggie sandwich. I. Do. Not. Like. It. And I did not like this beer. Because I’m, again, stupid.

The Scotty Doesn’t Know was a oatmeal pale ale. Apparently I liked it because all I wrote in my notes was “‘Twas good.” Which honestly, is probably a glowing endorsement from me. I don’t even know myself that well anymore.

So, after I wrapped up my flight, I was starving to death because I hadn’t eaten all day. And I had just flown in from Milwaukee. But, as I believe in thoroughness of life and was also having a grand time reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara pre-Golden State Killer capture (read the book, it’s amazing), I decided to have one last beer. So I got a full pour of the Stacy’s Mom citra IPA. My notes on this beer say this is “what I live for” and it’s light and “less pretentious” than many IPAs. Now, let me take a moment to be self reflective on this statement. Assuming a beer can be pretentious and priding another beer in being less so, in and of itself is pretentious. I think I was starving to death and a little too up on my own bullshit at this point. But guys, I was in the city of Brotherly fucking Love. The city of the Super Bowl Champions. The city that for the last two and a half years of my life I have had to listen to my officemate prattle on and on about how about his the greatest city in the world, no matter what the Schuyler Sisters insist on. I was wrapped up in my love of Philadelphia and was totally fine being pretentious. I had wandered into a city I had never been in before with just a backpack on my back, no plans, no where to go, and I was feeling free and independent. This is what happens when I travel alone. I get too into my own bullshit.

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But anyways, by the time I finished the Stacy’s Mom, I needed to get food. I should mention that there is a light menu at the brewery but my aforementioned officemate had given me an extensive list of food recommendations that I needed to tackle in my less than 48-hour stopover in Philadelphia and I could not waste a meal on a salad. So I closed my tab and headed out.

Since visiting Evil Genius, though, I have become an avid fan of their social media accounts. This is a brewery run by nerds for nerds, and it devastates me that I do not live closer to the lab and cannot visit more frequently. I will also say that the only moment of melancholy I experienced on my solo travels was in this brewery as I sat there reading the beer list and taking in the atmosphere thinking about how much Jake and Ashley would’ve loved that place. The beertender said my told my total was twelve doll hairs at some point. Doll. Hairs. That’s shit Ashley would’ve been all over. I won’t get too sappy about my visit to Philly (especially since I have another post in this two-part City of Beertherly Love series coming up), but this brewery was a great first impression on the city. It was unassuming and disinterested in being anything other than what it wanted to be. It’s definitely on my list for when my friends and I inevitably return. I loved Philadelphia and can’t wait to go back.