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.

Renovated Building in the Old Market Area

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.

Beer Tent at 7pm

Fun at Sunfest

Randy and Sprecher Fans

These Guys Know Beer

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.

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.)