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13th July 2010
Omaha’s Beertopia has been hosting its Sunfest Craft Beer Festival for many years but this year they had something new to offer to the 700+ guests, Sprecher beer. Since Sprecher products have only been in Omaha for a few months, Randy and Anne took this opportunity to check out the local craft beer scene. On the surface, there isn’t much of a scene, but if you just scratch lightly, you’ll discover a few Nebraska breweries and a whole lot of craft beer aficionados. Among the best Omaha breweries we sampled is Upstream; one of its brewpubs is located in the Old Market area downtown, a really cool shopping/eating/bar district based in renovated warehouses.
We’re told that despite the growing audience for craft beers in Omaha, only a couple of stores are dedicated to offering a broad selection of craft beers. We visited Brix on 170th St., and Beertopia on 36th and Farnam. Brix is a gorgeous new store with everything for your party needs including a beautiful selection of beers. Beertopia also has a remarkably good selection of craft and import beers along with a knowledgeable staff.
Beertopia is located on an unassuming corner with 3 other dedicated beer pubs: Crescent Moon, Huber House (German) and Max and Jo’s (Belgian). Coincidentally, Sunfest Craft Beer Festival took place in the parking lot behind this craft beer mecca. This was a perfect venue for the festival because like Omaha, it was unassuming yet surprisingly sophisticated.
In between introducing fest goers to Sprecher beers, answering questions, and having his photo taken with Sprecher beer fans, Randy sampled beers from nearby Nebraska breweries including Hopluia, Neraska Brewing Company (NBC), Gottlieb, a group of homebrewers and Uplands. At the other end of the tent were notable breweries such as: Left Hand Brewing Company, Great Divide, Avery, New Belgium and more. Contact www.beercornerusa.com for a complete list.
Of those he sampled, Randy’s favorite beer was a Dortmunder, which I believe was made by the homebrewers who also made some nice rye beers btw. As for commercial beers, NBC’s Melange a Trois was outstanding. Left Hand’s 400 Pound Monkey deserves praise for being a nicely balanced English IPA. Honestly, of the 100+ beers available, many were more than respectable. This is a festival craft beer lovers should put on their calendar because in addition to the usual suspects, several surprises are offered each year.
Thank you to our Omaha distributor DiLoranzo-Penke for involving Sprecher in this festival. And thanks to all the great Omaha residents who love craft beer. You do the industry proud. More pictures can be found at the Sprecher flickr gallery, www.sprecherbrewery.com.
28th June 2010
It is without regret that I write a few hundred folks did not make it to Summerfest on Saturday between 1-5pm because they were soaking up the great beers, foods, and atmosphere at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale during the 1st annual WI Craft Beer Festival produced by the WI Brewers Guild. This event, which offered over 100 craft beers plus 20 food pairings by area chefs, included not volunteers pouring but brewers and brewery owners representing 30 breweries from around the state. South Shore, Pearl St, Grumpy Troll, Titletown, New Glarus, Capital, Sprecher, Vintage, Chameleon, Lakefront, Sand Creek, Milwaukee Ale House were among the mix of award-winning breweries small and large that arrived glad to pour their best and talk smart about their brews.
Among the foods for pairing — Anchorage restaurant prepared shrimp scampi; Ovation offered shrimp cakes; sliders and other delicious dishes were included with the price of a ticket. And true foodies had a great time because chefs from each restaurant were on hand to talk about their dishes and their pairing strategy.
Click on flickr at www.sprecherbrewery.com to see WI Craft Beer Festival event photos. (Sorry, images were too large to upload to this post.)
21st June 2010
This past Saturday we had the official release party for our Belgian Dubbel. About 100 people showed up and a good time was had by all. Charlie Jigs of Streamline Productions and WMSE DJ’d while guests hung out enjoying their Belgian Dubbel served in a snifter, which is the best glassware for this style of beer.
Randy Sprecher tapped the first keg, worked the bar and the room, then gave a tour of the brewery as only he can do. Unfortunately, I neglected to get photos (sorry!). However, our next release party will be our big 25th anniversary blowout featuring a Cherry Lambic and I’ll be sure to get photos of the party and partygoers. Hope you can join us for this event — September 25th — at the brewery, 701 W. Glendale Ave, Glendale.
In the meantime, plan to attend the WI Summer Solstice Beer Lovers Festival this Saturday, June 26th, at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale. Twenty-eight craft breweries and brewmasters from around the state will serve 100+ beers and 20 beer and food pairings to attendees. There will be 2 bands playing during the event, which takes place 1-5pm, rain or shine. Tickets are $50/person, or $90 for two. They can be purchased at Sprecher, or at www.welcometoglendale.com.
14th June 2010
Cheers to the guys in the brewhouse!
Sprecher won 8 medals at the 2010 LA International Commercial Beer Competition:
- 4 gold (Irish Stout, IPA2, Oktoberfest, Piper’s Scotch Ale);
- 3 silver (Dunkel Weiss, Hefe Weiss, Abbey Triple); and
- 1 bronze (Dopple Bock).
13th June 2010
Not that we hibernate 3/4 of the year, but it’s true — Milwaukee comes alive during the summer. Today is the 34th Annual Locust Street Days, always a fun, neighborhood festival with great bands, kids activities, and lots of people out for a good time in the sun. Can’t find Sprecher on the street? Stop into the Tracks or Linnemans. If you’re not down at the Lakefront but you like really amazing aerial feats, you might want to get yourself there quickly because the truly mind (and ear) blowing Air and Water Show is happening as I type. Check out the website, and then go see it for yourself: http://www.milwaukeeairshow.com/.
Now I need to step back in time. On Friday night Randy and I attended the annual Greg (GB #85) and Nicole Jennings party benefiting Habitat for Humanity at Merrill Hills Country Club. ( I’m proud to say Sprecher was the official beer that evening. ) Several hundred party guests along with 50 or so Green Bay Packers such as Jennings, Jermichael Finley, AJ Hawk, Nick Barnett, Nick Collins, Aaron Rogers, Josh Sitton, Patrick Williams, etc., appeared to really enjoy the event which included dinner, a live auction, music and fireworks.
Far from being aloof, all the Packers I spoke with were really gracious. Honestly, if you’re a Packer fan, the $100 ticket price is a small fee, especially since 100% of the proceeds are donated to Habitat. I took a few photos, most of which look better on my phone, but here are a couple:
I’m always struck by how different football players look w/o their gear on. Jermichael Finley is very tall; it would be hard to mistake him for anything but a professional athlete. Same with Josh Sitton who’s not exceptionally tall, but he’s certainly solid. But that’s not always the case. From the photos above you can tell Jennings and Collins are about the same height as Randy. In fact, it would be easy to mistake them for just another party guest. Quick Quiz — if the photos weren’t labeled, could you figure out who is the brewmaster and who the pro football player ?
06th June 2010
Too many people have asked about the author of Sprecher’s blog posts so I’ll take this opportunity to out myself before someone else does. Although this blog was never designed with the intention to be the exclusive property of one Sprecher employee, to date I, Anne Sprecher, have been the sole author. I was born in NYC and lived there for several years post-college before returning to Mke for grad school and again for a job. Mke has been a vortex in my life. But I guess I worked through any bad karma because soon after my 3rd move to Mke I met Randy Sprecher and we were married in 2002. Since 2004 I’ve done PR and marketing for the brewery. Among the other things, I design classes that are oriented toward women, classes that demystify craft beer and reveal its pleasures. Since attending unGeeked (#ungeeked), “The SxSW of the Midwest,” my work has gotten much more interesting because I’m now immersed in social media.
Before meeting Randy, I didn’t drink beer. Logic = why waste all those calories on something with no taste? Have tequila instead. Randy taught me that good beer (and soda) not only has flavor, it has a complex flavor profile much like wine. I quickly became a craft beer lover and perhaps evangelista. As a whole, craft beer drinkers are a pretty interesting group. True, some can be a bit persnickity; snobby even. Maybe they’re just insecure. Genuine craft beer lovers want to share their experiences and learn from others. And that’s what makes working in this industry FUN.
The craft beer industry has a great ethos. Rather than the Coke/Pepsi binary dynamic (you either like one or the other), people in the craft beer industry give props where props are due. If you like someone’s beer, you tell them; if you don’t like the beer, you may offer up a fair critique from your perspective, but you definitely don’t slam the product in public or otherwise. If you see an employee drinking another brewery’s beer in a bar, you don’t fire them for patronizing the competition (ahem, macrobrewer(s), you know who you are). You get the idea – there’s a lot of respect among competitors in the craft beer industry.
At the end of the day people in the craft beer industry are both producers and consumers, much like the folks generating social media. How so? We share passion for innovation with due respect to the audience. Our goal is not to dumb down so people “get” what we’re doing; nor do we want to toil in oblivion. We want to start and be part of many conversations.
31st May 2010
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.
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.
23rd May 2010
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.
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 www.sprecherbrewery.com 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.
16th May 2010
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 www.americancraftbeerweek.org:
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.
13th April 2010
This recipe for superb pulled pork was created by Chef Nathan Berg of Native Bay Restaurant and Lounge in Chippewa Falls. Many thanks to Lucy Saunders for including it in her terrific recipe book, The Best of American Beer & Food (2007, Brewers Publications). Simply named Bock-Braised Pork Shoulder, we’ve rechristened it Grand Slam Pulled Pork Carnitas for baseball season. Definitely, if you want to win friends and influence people during a pre-game tailgate, serve this recipe. You can either serve it in pulled pork sandwiches or use our variation, Pulled Pork Carnitas.
Beer Pairing Suggestion: Sprecher Black Bavarian, Sprecher Mai Bock, or Sprecher Dopple Bock
Bock-Braised Pork Shoulder
1 cp flour4-5 pounds pork shoulder (about 3″ thick); note: can substitute pork butt
4 tablespoons grapeseed (or safflower oil)
1 lg yellow onion, halved and sliced thick
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
4 cups pork or beef stock
36 ounces Sprecher Dopple Bock
10 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon truffle oil
1. Preheat oven to 200F (unless using crock pot; see Note in step 2). Place flour in a shallow pan or plate, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge both sides of shoulder roasts in seasoned flour, and shake to remove excess.
2. Heat oil in large, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sear all sides of the pork until brown and crispy. Place the onion, carrots, and celery in the bottom of a deep casserole or Dutch oven, and place meat on top. Add stock and beer until meat and vegetables are fully submerged, and add peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Cover with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil (to prevent meat from drying out and burning) and place in oven. Bake at least 6 hours. Note: You can also use a slow cooker or crock pot set on low).
3. Remove pan from oven and remove lid, taking care not to let steam hit your face or hands. Taste a small piece of pork and check its texture. It should be falling straight off the bone or coming apart easily when pulled. If the meat isn’t fully tender, return to pan or slow cooker for another 1 to 2 hours.
4. Remove meat from liquid, set it on a plate or in a shallow pan, and place it in the refrigerator to cool slightly. In the meantime, strain cooking pan juices and place in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a roiling boil on the stovetop. Reduce liquids by 70%, to about 2 cups. When fully reduced, taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and sherry vinegar.
5. When cool enough to handle, pick through the pork to remove all bones and as much of the fat as possible. To finish, combine pork and sauce in a large saucepan and heat until warmed throughout. Stir in truffle oil just before serving.
Makes 6-8 servings
8-10 Flour Tortillas (if using large ones; more if using smaller tortillas)
1. Heat both sides of each tortilla in skillet. Tortillas are ready when they begin to puff.
2. Remove from skillet and set aside or in warming oven.
3. Place tortilla on plate, add some cheese, then pork, then cheese. Roll up and serve as is or with salsa and guacamole.