Memorial Day at Sprecher

What are you doing to celebrate Memorial Day?  Having a BBQ? Hanging out with friends and family? Taking a brewery tour?  All great reasons to stop at Sprecher and celebrate the first Memorial Day we’ve been open in many years.

P.S. Say hello and give props to Sean who’s working in retail today.  He spent 6 years in the US Army.  His final deployment to the Kuwait-Iraq border lasted from Jan 2009-Jan 2010.

P.P.S.  Say hello and give props to Butch, who keeps the offices and public spaces clean.  He just retired from the service after being enlisted for 21 years and 6 months.

Sprecher has several employees who served in the armed forces, beginning with Randy Sprecher, CEO, Founder and Head Brewmaster.  In fact, if Randy hadn’t been drafted into the Army, and if he wasn’t color blind,  Sprecher Brewery as we know it probably wouldn’t exist.

Say what?

Not that Randy didn’t always have an entrepreneurial spirit, it’s just that one day he was surfing without many cares except where the next wave was coming from; later that afternoon a letter arrived requiring he report to the draft board, and almost immediately he found himself on his way to basic training then onto jungle school (Tiger Land, Fort Polk, LA) in preparation for deployment to Vietnam.  Packed and ready to go, Randy was called out of the line of soldiers heading to the airport for the plane to Vietnam.  His CO wanted to know why, after having done so well,  Sprecher’s troops were getting killed, why he didn’t read the signals right.  True, none of the soldiers actually died during the exercise; this was just a simulation, but one designed to recreate actual war conditions.  Turns out the CO changed the night ops signals to colored flares and Randy is color-blind, causing him to unintentionally misread the flares and make decisions that put his troops in harm’s way.   After three days of testing to make sure he wasn’t faking, Randy was reassigned to a general’s office in Augsburg, Germany, where the seeds of Sprecher Brewery began to germinate.  Those seeds were cultivated thanks in no small part to the GI Bill.

Jeff Hamilton, President of Sprecher and the WI Brewer’s Guild, served several years in the US Navy.

Don Wambach, Regional Sales Manager, served in the Airborne Rangers Division of the US Army.

Mother and daughter Dale Kitzman (Accounts Payable) and Michelle Brzek (Business Development) have a son and brother, respectively, who is currently in the US Army and stationed in Afghanistan.

We are deeply grateful to all the veterans and those currently serving, those who lost life or limbs, those who respond(ed) to our country’s call to service.  If you know someone who served in the US Military, ask them to share their story.   They might just take you on an adventure you’ll never forget.

Gluten Free Sprecher Beers – Mbege Ale & Shakparo Ale

In 2006,  Sprecher surprised many when it added two new beers to its line-up: Mbege Ale, an East African style beer, and Shakparo Ale, a West African style beer.  Those who expect only more traditional European style beers from Sprecher were a bit perplexed.  Not only are these beers not European in origin, they are gluten free (made without any malt or wheat).

History: Sprecher’s two gluten free beers, Mbege Ale and Shakparo Ale were first brewed for Milwaukee’s African World Festival in 2006.  Sprecher brewmaster Craig Burge researched African beers then brewed four test batches for sampling by the AWF taste testers.  They settled on two: Mbege Ale, which is made with sorghum, banana juice and millet; and Shakparo Ale, which is made with sorghum and millet.  In the years since these ales have become part of Sprecher’s lineup of distinctive beers.

Sprecher Mbege Ale
Sprecher Shakparo Ale

Character: When first introduced both beers were critiqued for being too different, too sour, although they had some followers.  Indeed, Mbege and Shakparo are very different from smooth lagers and hoppy ales in large part because they are reflective of their place of origin.  But, because they are beer, they exhibit characteristics not unlike certain European beers.  In fact, their profiles are similar to those of some Belgian beers.  Mbege (7%abv) is reminiscent of a Belgian sour with a citrus, melon, fruity, sweet flavor profile, lightness on the palate and nice acid balance.  Shakparo (5.7%abv) has more of a cider or winey character, but is also light on the palate with a nice refreshing acid balance.  Both beers pair well with food, especially spicy foods or curries, but also cheese and everyday fare such as burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Gluten Free: What makes these beers truly unique is that they are authentically gluten free.  These are not beers whose recipes have been altered to be gluten free; they are beers whose original recipe requires no malt, wheat or any products containing gluten.  In the years since Sprecher first released Mbege and Shakparo, word of mouth, blogs and reviews have created a cult following among people suffering from celiac disease (people who have an autoimmune disease that makes then gluten intolerant) and craft beer lovers across the country.

Availability: Currently Mbege and Shakparo are available for purchase at Sprecher Brewery, 701 W. Glendale Ave, Glendale, WI, and at many retail outlets throughout the country.  If you cannot find either beer, please visit to find contact information for a wholesaler or retailer near your location.  Engage in a little grassroots activism:  Ask them to carry these beers.  Any decent business will if they know there are interested customers.

It’s As Good As The Fourth of July!

Hint: This annual nationwide holiday celebrating a byproduct of America’s rebellious, striving, passionate, hedonistic, democratic and innovative spirit occurs always in the month of May.

Hint: The small businesses recognized during this holiday are  so significant as a group, Congress passed HR 1297 in their honor.

Hint: You have to be of legal drinking age to truly appreciate it.

Answer = ?

Done wondering?  It’s American Craft Beer Week!  This year ACBW takes place at craft breweries throughout the nation May 17-23.  If you appreciate craft beer, if you’ve heard about it but never tried it, if you don’t think you like craft beer, this is the week to visit some craft brewers in your area and taste what they have to offer.   There will be beer and food pairings, new beer release parties, free tours and many other events at little or no cost.  We want to thank our customers for letting us do what we love and encouraging us to stretch the boundaries of “tastes great;” we also want to give props to our fellow craft brewers for building a significant industry that is truly Made in America.

Many craft breweries throughout Wisconsin will have guest taps in addition to their line up of great brews (thanks Greg Koch of Stone for issuing the guest tap challenge).  All week long Sprecher will host Central Waters’  Shine On, South Shore Brewery’s Wheat Dopplebock, and Capital Brewery’s Tettnanger Dopplebock.  And you’ll find Sprecher Black Bavarian at Capital Brewery, Sprecher Mai Bock at Central Waters, and Sprecher IPA2 at South Shore Brewery.   Need I say more?  Alright — this is the best reason for a statewide brewery road trip.  Don’t have the time?  Well, guest taps are about bringing the beer to you,  so stop into your local microbrewery and take a leap of faith you won’t regret.  Go ahead,  sample a killer Wisconsin craft beer you’ve not had before.   It will give you one more reason to say, Wisconsin ROCKS!  Not there yet about the WI ROCKS?  That’s ok; a couple WI craft brews and you’ll understand what we mean.

Other special Sprecher events: Breakfast with the Brewmaster, 8am-9am, Thursday, May 20th.  Join Sprecher brewmaster Craig Burge for a beer and bagel.  This is an incredible opportunity and I’ll leave it at that.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a complete celebration of Wisconsin craft beer without some artisanal cheese.  Free samples and extra brewery tours all week, so stop by.

About HR 1297 — Here’s a little info copied from

Small brewers are small businesses; they provide so much to their local communities and have reshaped American beer culture. On April 22, 2010, U.S. Congress began discussing House Resolution 1297 (PDF file) supporting the goals and ideals of American Craft Beer Week.