10 Wisconsin beers worth the road trip
Andrew P. Han
Wisconsin beers are finally finding their way across the border, and that's good news for neighboring Midwestern states like Minnesota. Wisconsin's strong brewing traditions have helped it cultivate one of the most active and noteworthy craft brewing scenes in the nation. Whether you're on vacation, on business, or just on a run across the state line to stock up on the best beers Wisconsin has to offer, keep an eye out for these brews.
Practically the official state beer, the Spotted Cow helped make Wisconsin's mark in the early days of the craft brewing revolution and built New Glarus Brewery into one of the nation's largest craft brewers. If there's a beer that can capture the "terroir" of south central Wisconsin, this is it. Clean and sweet, it's purposely kept cloudy with an addition of yeast to the bottle. This along with a hint of popcorn brings to mind the organic, barnyard essence of the region.
When Tommy Porter quit his job in the auto industry and started home brewing, he made sure the beer that would bear his name was perfect. It took him 20 batches to get it right, but boy did he get it right. Complex but drinkable, this beer is one of the finest the state has to offer. Look for notes of mocha and nut, with a hop finish and a velvety mouth feel.
"We try to showcase one hop variety" in each beer, says Ale Asylum employee Heather McGuire. In Bedlam's case it's Citra hops. This beer is big, aromatic, and fruity. We tasted pear, but you won't find actual fruit in any of the Ale Asylum beers. All that flavor is coaxed out by brew master Dean Coffey, who makes beer strictly in accordance with the German purity law of 1516, which limits brewers to four ingredients: water, yeast, hops, and malt.
This light-bodied wheat beer is made with grain from Washington Island, Door County, off the tip of Wisconsin's thumb. One of the early pioneers in Wisconsin's craft brewing scene, Capital operates a tap room at its brewery as well as its own restaurant in downtown Madison on State street -- right in the shadow of the Capitol. Sweet with a mellow hop finish, the beer has a superfine bubble structure that makes it a pleasure to drink.