Three Wisconsin breweries you should know (if you don't already)

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For all the exciting news recently on the Minnesota beer front, there's arguably just as many cool things going down in the land of cheese to our east. While the state's beer history is impressive (and includes a little company you may have heard of called Miller), the real action is what's being brewed in the nooks and crannies.

Here are three under-the-radar, just-over-the-border breweries that, if you haven't tried already, you should. (And for those of you already screaming "But what about New Glarus? Lakefront? O'so?": The breweries I've chosen are ones readily available in our fair cities.)

Furthermore

Cracked pepper. Smoked peat. Beets. Furthermore Beer, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, gets props for being the brewery with the oddest ingredient list--and some of the most rewarding results. Fatty Boomballaty, its "big, fatty" version of a Belgian white, is a funky cross between a pale ale and a witbier that manages to capitalize on the best of both styles. Knot Stock, its widely available, sessionable APA, challenges drinkers with a combination of cracked pepper and Northern Brewer bittering hops, while Thurmo Refur is fruity and sour and full of purply beet goodness.

If I have one criticism of Furthermore, it's that they don't offer a variety pack. Seems to me it'd be easier to introduce someone to a beet beer if they didn't have to commit to 72 ounces of it. Just sayin'.

Central Waters

Central Waters was only recently (and quietly) introduced to the Minnesota scene, but there's good reason to be excited. While their year-round offerings are super solid, it's their seasonals and special offerings that really get people enthused. Four bourbon-barrel-aged beers, a cherry stout made with Door County fruit, a fresh hop ale made exclusively with Wisconsin-grown hops: Central Waters is all about keeping its flavors thick and the ingredients local.

Not only that, it's one of the few breweries in the country that uses solar thermal energy in the brewing process. So when the apocalypse finally comes and we're all busy building fires and hunting and gathering, rest assured there will be at least one good (almost) off-the-grid brewery we can count on for a beer to go with that charred muskrat.

Tyranena

Bitter Woman, Dirty Old Man, Sheep Shagger, Scurvy: You might think twice about picking up beers with names like these, but you'd be wrong. Constantly evolving and consistently exceptional, Tyranena's tagline is "Legendary Wisconsin Beer," and while only time will tell, it might not be too far off. Tyranena boasts a huge variety of beers as bold as their names, plus a "Brewer's Gone Wild" series (like a naughty version of Summit's Unchained Series). Even better, it has a sweet tasting room, just east of Madison, off I-94, with long hours and all kinds of goodies on tap. So next time you make the haul to Chicago, plan an extra hour (or three) for a break in Lake Mills.

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