Craft beer continues to be a major economic and cultural force across the country and here in the Badger State. As Chris Drosner writes in his annual retrospective for 77 Square,
To say this year was the best yet for craft beer in Wisconsin is a bit silly, because “this year” has always been the best year. Constant growth and innovation make sure of that.
But for Wisconsin, and Madison especially, it has been a particularly best year.
The highlights from the past year are many; listed below are some of the big and small ones:
- the second annual Madison Craft Beer Week, which featured dozens of events all over town, including a “big beer” tasting at Brasserie V, just one of several 2012 tastings that J and I participated in there
- too many other special tap nights to count; J and I caught a few, including Furthermore at Natt Spil and Founders at Coopers Tavern
- the arrival of nanobrewery One Barrel Brewing Company in the Atwood neighborhood
- Port Huron Brewing Company’s opening in Wisconsin Dells, with distribution now reaching Madison
- the expansion of Ale Asylum and arrival of Karben4 Brewing
- the release of specialty bombers from the Great Dane
- new beers from established area brewers, including the locavore Wisconsinite from Lakefront, the delicious Serendipity from New Glarus, and the adventurous Jinja Ninja from Vintage. For more on the latter, check out this recent MadTable Q&A with “Madison’s Rockstar of Beer Naming, Scott Manning”: “I gave a lot of thought to how a beer called Jinja Ninja would taste and look and smell — orange and amber in color, big on ginger flavor, but with a lot of other complimentary flavors and elements in play, kind of like an orchestration of martial arts moves on the palate, where it’s beautiful and seamless and a little dangerous.”
- Bottoms Up, the new book, documentary, and museum exhibit from the Wisconsin Historical Society that considers Wisconsin’s historic taverns, bars and breweries
For a look back at more great brews of 2012, check out this PDF from Wine Enthusiast for the top 25 beers they reviewed this year. Coming in at #16 with a 92 rating on this list of great beers from around the world? Two Women Lager from our very own New Glarus Brewing! It’s made in collaboration with Weyermann Malting, both companies led by women in the male-dominated field of beer-making. What did Wine Enthusiast think of Two Women?
It’s crisp and malt-driven, as you would expect a classic lager to be, but the Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops impart iconic noble-hop notes of grass, soft grapefruit essence and earthy flower. Smooth and balanced in the mouth, it has a light green-tea astringency that adds texture to the biscuity malt core. A soft green-apple twang and a mineral note liven the finish.
As Jim Draeger inscribed my copy of Bottoms Up, the book: Prosit!