Kohler Festival of Beer Cracks Open Midwest Brews

Wisconsin is a state known for its love of beer. Though Milwaukee lost production of Schlitz, Pabst and Blatz throughout the years, Miller still pours out of the “Beer Capital of the World.” But, the secret is there are plenty of quality brands brewed in rural Wisconsin that refresh the periphery of the adult beverage business.

Some of those unassuming brands gathered this past weekend for the Kohler Festival of Beer – settling into that little town just outside Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Hosted by the five star American Club, the festival celebrates the mega makes from Milwaukee and St. Louis, but not at the expense of smaller brewers.

I was in attendance at this year’s festival. The American Club as the perfect host, and we’ll be doing a full on review of the property in an upcoming feature.

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For now, it’s all about the beer. As a service to your discerning taste, I wanted to recommend some smaller Midwestern brewers on full display at this year’s festival. You might have to work to find their bottles at your local liquor store as their shipping amounts and range tends to be limited. But, here’s hoping you can enjoy a glass or two of the following:

New Glarus: A popular brewer in Wisconsin, New Glarus might be poised to venture into wider markets with its Spotted Cow and its delicious cherry infused Belgian Red.

Goose Island: Coming out of Chicago, Goose Island offers an extensive small batch line. I got a crack at their tasty IPA (a big theme at the Festival) and look forward to trying out their well-reviewed 312. 

New Belgium: Perhaps the best known brewer on this list (and a welcome Midwest outsider, coming in from Colorado), its Fat Tire Amber Ale is rapidly becoming a national brand. At the Festival, I had a chance to try out its hoppy Ranger IPA and its seasonal Summer Helles.

3 Sheeps: This northern Wisconsin company might be the smallest brewer on this list, but its beers have the most unique names. I tried a sample of “‘Hello. My Name is Joe’ Malt Beverage with Coffee Added.” That might not trip off the tongue, but it tasted good while residing there.