This coming Saturday, beer fans across Madison will be disembarking from whatever safe transport took them home from Olin Park, livers busily processing the fruits of the Great Taste of the Midwest's bounty to varying degrees of success. And shortly thereafter, beer fans hailing from points beyond Wisconsin's borders will have their trunks full of New Glarus, O'so, MobCraft, and a handful of other beers not (or not yet) widely available outside the Badger State, speeding away with their new treasures.
Last year, pre-GTMW week witnessed a veritable plague of beery locusts, the shelves relatively full of New Glarus Wild Sour -- easily last year's most impressive Wisconsin release -- and damn near scrubbed clean by the time the dust settled on Monday after the Taste. The air was thick with the plaintive cries of those who waited a week too long to pick up a four pack.
I'm all for sharing the wealth of Wisconsin brewing, and I want visitors from out-of-state to have a shot at the good stuff while they're in town. But I also want my friends and neighbors to have their fair warning this year, that the time is now for those limited or unusual beers they'd been waiting on. Here are a few worth chasing down before they're in the wind altogether
Black Husky Sproose II IPA
Really, anything that's on shelves from tiny, self-distributed Black Husky will probably be an endangered species post-GTMW. But the piney, hoppy beauty that is Sproose (formerly known as Sproose Joose) is a Wisconsin superstar that wise shoppers will snap up while it's here.
While this is a Wisconsin-centric post, a few moderately chase-ish beers from outside of Wisconsin deserve mention. Founders Dissenter Imperial India Pale Lager is a Backstage beer that's relatively cheap and plentiful (compared to previous releases, anyway), and just hit shelves. Similarly, Deschutes Black Butte XXVI is here to celebrate not only the brewery's birthday, but its arrival in the Wisconsin market. And Nebraska Brewing is only distributed in a couple states east of the Mississippi, and Black Betty Russian Imperial Stout is arguably that brewery's tentpole release; it's around...for now.
MobCraft's wackadoo lineup
Madison's crowd-sourced brewery is growing in both production scale and public awareness, and there are some festival-ready brews sitting on store shelves this week. Batshit Crazy's second run is near its end, as is Hop Gose the Grapefruit's initial run. Brand new to retail is Candy for Breakfast, a porter with coffee, peanuts, and chocolate, and that's the kind of thing that beer geeks will flock to on a festival weekend.
New Glarus Thumbprints
Yep, right back where we started. Like last year, New Glarus has a complex but also quite accessible sour on shelves, the Thumbprint release simply named Oud Bruin. This baby's going to age well, in addition to being quite pleasant right away. Another Thumbprint, Scream IIPA, is nearing the end of its run already (though word is that another batch is shipping out). Plus, New Glarus will be on visitors' radar by virtue of the R&D release that's happening throughout the weekend. I'm tempted to say that even Belgian Red and Strawberry Rhubarb might run scarce, but I think we're well-enough stocked to survive the rampaging hordes. (Related: I'm really curious to see if shoppers at the brewery find all those withdrawn bottles of Berliner Weiss on the shelves there.)
O'so's big bottles
I'm as amazed as anyone that Winds of Change, O'so's Bretty pale ale, has lasted as long as it has, but its luck can't continue to hold. It's been aging well. Convenient Distraction, on the other hand, is running low all over town. This coffee/vanilla variant of Night Train is definitely worth drinking immediately. Restless Soul, formerly known as the tap-only Brett Dank, just recently came out in bottles, and should be plentiful enough to last. But really, why wait?