Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How to Avoid Getting Back to Work After the Holiday Weekend Is Over
It's easy: Don't stop drinking. The amount of high-quality beer being made within a few miles of where I'm sitting is positively astounding. Those of us who live up here know it. Those of us who like beer try hard never to take it for granted. Just in the last couple of weeks, several of our local breweries have made news that reminds us how fortunate we are.

--Middleton's Capital Brewery is just a few blocks away, and Friday it won another national award, this time as a Grand Champion at the U.S. Beer Tasting Championships in Chicago, for its Winter Skal. At the same event, Milwaukee's Sprecher Brewery won a similar honor for its Black Bavarian. (Black Bavarian apparently did not win for its ability to heal the sick and raise the dead, although it can.)

--The New Glarus Brewing Company, just 20 miles down the road, broke ground a couple of weeks ago on a new facility that will allow it to more than double its production capacity, thus bringing more Spotted Cow, Fat Squirrel, and Raspberry Tart to the masses. A couple of years ago, New Glarus Brewing pulled back its distribution to a smaller area, although this expansion may permit them to widen it again. If so, it will be the happiest thing to happen in Chicago since last year's World Series, at least.

--My hometown brewery, the Joseph Huber Brewing Company (50 miles from here, tops), was featured in a Capital Times article over the weekend. The brewery has been a fixture in Monroe since 1848, but it's only within the last 10 years that it's developed a variety of beers beyond yer basic Huber beer, and Huber Bock in the spring. They mostly appear under the Berghoff label.

--Now that summer's here, it's wheat beer season. Wheat beer was the first variety I got into when I first became a beer snob, and it's a great place to start your own adventure in snobbery. Although I like other styles better now, a wheat beer still hits the spot on a hot day better than most. The Wisconsin State Journal recently lined up several wheat beers and taste-tested them. I won't give away the results here, but let's just say the old hometown brewery knows what it's doing wheatwise.

--A new brewpub, Ale Asylum, has just opened on Madison's East Side, becoming the first brewpub on that side of town. Before the summer is out, local legend the Great Dane will open a third location on the near west side to go along with its downtown and south locations, and Granite City Food and Brewery, a regional chain brewpub, will open out here on my side of town.

Beer. It's what's for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast if we can manage it, all summer long.

Recommended Reading: One week from today, voters in Iowa will select a Democratic nominee for governor. The contenders are Chet Culver, current Secretary of State and son of longtime U.S. Senator John Culver; Mike Blouin, former state economic development director (who was a Dubuque County pol of some sort when I lived there nearly 25 years ago); and state representative Ed Fallon, whose longshot candidacy has captured not just progressives but a few Republicans, too. Culver is purportedly the front-runner, mostly on name recognition, but there's a perception among some voters that he's not very bright. He is bright enough to have a blog, though--which you will appreciate even if you care nothing about Iowa politics.

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