Thursday, February 4, 2016

Oshkosh Beer Show #34 – Stillmank Brewing Co.

This week we share our visit with Stillmank Brewing Co. in Green Bay and drink Perky Porter, the brewery’s milk chocolate coffee porter.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Upcoming Beer Events

A brief shout about a trio of beer events on the near horizon...

Cask Tapping at Chester V’s
Wednesday, February 3 (as in tomorrow), Chester V’s will tap a specially prepared cask of Fox River Brewing Company’s Skywalker Stout. Skywalker is a 7.4% ABV Imperial Stout with a hop bill that resembles an IPA. The base beer is hopped with mosaic, simcoe and citra. The cask that'll pour at Chester V’s has undergone an additional dry-hopping in the cask with Australian galaxy and citra. Kevin Bowen, brewmaster at Fox River, will be on hand to tap the cask at 5 p.m. Pints of this beer will be just $3.50. Check out the Facebook Event Page for more.

The 7th annual Fond du Lac Brewfest
Saturday, February 6, Fondy’s annual beer festival takes place at the Fond du Lac Fairgrounds from 5-9 p.m. They’ve pulled in a lot of new breweries for this year’s fest. Check out their complete line-up HERE. Tickets are available online for $45. There's info on that and more, right here.

Barley’s Beer Sampling Series
Here’s some more good news. Nate at Barley & Hops has decided to move this next installment of his beer sampling series to Saturday night. Saturday, February 13 from 6-9 p.m. Barley’s will feature more than 60 beers and a slew of spirits and wines. Tyranena Brewing Co. will be the host brewery. Get your tickets in advance at the pub for $20 or at the door for $25, if tickets are still available at that point. Either way it’s a sweet deal, but better to get them in advance. This is likely to be a heavily attended event. Check out the Facebook Event Page for more info.

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Brewer's Stamp

Here's something beautiful passed along by my buddy, Oshkosh beer historian Ron Akin.

What we have here is a brewer's tax stamp for the 12 month period ending April 30, 1878. The stamp originated from the fifth district Internal Revenue collector's office in Oshkosh. Let's have a look – you can click the image to enlarge it.

Brewers were required to clearly display these stamps, which were essentially permits, near the entrance of their breweries. This particular grade was issued to brewers who produced fewer than 500 barrels of beer annually. For those brewers, the annual permit fee was $50 (or about $1,170 in today's money). If a brewer produced more than 500 barrels, the annual tax jumped to $100 (or about $2,340 in today's money). Crossing that threshold could be especially costly for a small brewer.

In 1878, Oshkosh had 3 breweries required to display the $50 stamp.
     • Christian Kaehler's Fifth Ward Brewery, with production of 140 barrels.
     • Charles Rahr's City Brewery, with production of 340 barrels.
     • Lorenz Kuenzl’s Gambrinus Brewery, with production of 470 barrels.

Kuenzl was about to get slammed with the 500-barrel tax. It necessitated his enlarging the brewery to increase capacity to the point where he could produce enough beer to make the leap profitable. Here's a look at Kuenzl’s brewery in 1893.

One more thing: the stamp pictured above was never issued, but it was signed by Albert K. Osborn, who from 1868 to 1883 was the Internal Revenue's tax collector in this region. Osborn had deep ties to Oshkosh. He was born in Colesville, New York in 1824 and moved to Oshkosh in 1844 with his father, Joseph Osborn. Incredibly, the Osborn homestead still stands at 840 Osborn Ave. It's the oldest house in Oshkosh and on the National Register of Historic Houses. Here's how the old place looks these days.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Oshkosh Beer Show #33 - Bare Bones Brewery

At last! I’ve been looking forward to this episode ever since Adam and I began the Oshkosh Beer Show last June. We’ve finally managed to get everyone together.

Bare Bones Brewery is the first new brewery to open in Oshkosh in 25 years. In this episode, we interview the brewery’s founders, Dan and Patti Dringoli, and meet Bare Bones brewmaster Lyle Hari. Here’s the inside story of Bare Bones Brewery.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bar-top Dry Hopping at Lion’s Tail

Here’s an extremely limited beer from Lion’s Tail Brewing in Neenah that offers something entirely new.

Thursday, January 27, Lion’s Tail will release its Custom Pale Ale. This is no ordinary Pale Ale. Each glass of CPA is dry hopped on the bar top using hops of the customer’s choosing. Talk about hand crafted beer.

The short video below spells everything out. This was a pilot batch, so for now CPA will be available only for a limited time. There may be more coming in the near future. If you want to get an early taste of CPA, join the Lion’s Tail Keg Club. Now onto the beer...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The SOBs Drink Bad Beer

That’s a fairly inflammatory title for a blog post, but it’s true. I saw it happen last Wednesday.

The Society of Oshkosh Brewers, better known as the SOBs, ganged up in the friendly confines of O’Marro’s Public House to sample beers spiked with off-flavor compounds. What’s the point of doing that? To become better homebrewers.

If you can identify specific off-flavors in beer, it becomes much easier to figure out their source and where you might have gone wrong in the brewing process. Seems odd, but drinking bad beer can be as important as drinking good beer when you’re looking to up your brewing game.

Here’s a one-minute peek at the SOBs’ bad-beer binge...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mythical Oshkosh - Fun with the Boys

This is a the second in a two-part series of posts concerning myths about Oshkosh spread by American newspapers. You can find the first post here.

More reports on the city that couldn't possibly exist – Oshkosh. Tall-tales continued being spun about Oshkosh throughout the latter half of the 1800s. But not all the stories were myth. As we'll see, Oshkosh's unruly reputation wasn't unwarranted.

The Main Street of Myth, circa 1887. - Photo courtesy of Dan Radig
Let's start with a whopper. In February 1868, the Fond du Lac Commonwealth ran a story titled Fun with the Boys in Oshkosh. The point of the piece was that mayhem and violence were the natural state of affairs here. Papers everywhere picked up the story and ran with it. If there was a single fable that cemented Oshkosh's reputation as a wild town, this was it.

The late Oshkosh historian Jim Metz explains what Fun with the Boys in Oshkosh was all about.

Metz is absolutely right when he says, "Fun with the Boys in Oshkosh became a euphemism for mayhem.” It was repeated constantly. I can't count the number of times I've comes across it in old newspapers.

Almost 50 years after it was introduced, the catchphrase was still in use. In 1910, Wisconsin author Jerome Watrous wrote in the Milwaukee Sentinel, “Having fun with the boys in Oshkosh — There may be back towns in China and a few dark spots in Africa where the inhabitants haven't heard the remark, but I doubt it.”

It became part of the common vernacular. You can see why. Fun with the Boys in Oshkosh. There’s a mad kind of ring to it. It ought to be revived.

Here's another one that made the rounds. It's boosted by a dose of pure bullshit.

– Tallulah, Madison Parish, La., Madison Times, March 27, 1886

Well there is some truth to this one. There really was a man named William Waterman aged 109. But he didn't live in Oshkosh. He lived in Grand Rapids (now known as Wisconsin Rapids). Why move him to Oshkosh then? Because when you're a newspaper editor filling up space, it's sexier to have your boozing ultracentenarian living in sin city. It's not as though, Waterman's life wasn't interesting enough. He was born six months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence and had seen George Washington in the flesh. Better yet, he married for the second time when he was 100 years old. When Waterman died at the age of 113, he was supposedly the oldest person in the United States.

As the 1800s drew to a close, myths about Oshkosh continued to be perpetrated by American newspapers. But a number of them – perhaps recognizing that the joke had gotten out of hand – attempted to put a damper on the Oshkosh phenomenon. Here's the New York Times with a feeble stab at setting the record straight about Sawdust City.

– New York Times, February 28, 1888

By the 1890s, some of the fictions were giving way to facts juicy enough for print. When Mayor Charles Oellerich launched a campaign to have Oshkosh saloons close on Sundays, the nation's newspapers took notice. Here's a story on the ensuing showdown, This appeared on the front page of the Bismarck, North Dakota Weekly Tribune on March 30, 1894. The story ran verbatim in dozens of American newspapers.

I like that bit about Oshkosh being a wide-open city. In terms of pure vice, this town had few rivals. New York City was one of them. The saloon closing caused the New York Evening World to draw the connection between these two dens of iniquity.

– April 2, 1894

Oshkosh saloonists weren't giving up their hard-won reputation that easily.

– Jamestown, North Dakota, Weekly Alert, April 12, 1894

Can you guess who won the battle? Of course, you can. By the end of the year, Oellerich was out on his ear and the saloons were going full bore all week long.

Here's another ordeal involving Oshkosh saloons that was reported nationwide.

– Rock Island, IL. Argus, December 7, 1898

Not so fast. The tradition of Oshkosh saloons giving away a free lunch to boozers proved more durable than anyone expected. Many of the pre-Prohibition saloons in the city continued offering their patrons free grub at any time of day or night. Here's an example of just that from the 1905 Oshkosh City Directory.

The building that housed Klawun's saloon still stands on the corner at Boyd and Merritt streets. You can still get lunch there, too. You'll have to pay, though. Here's what it looks like today.

Just one more. This article was widely circulated in 1897. It's about more fun with the boys from Oshkosh. Goes to show you can take the boys out of Oshkosh, but you can't take Oshkosh out of the boys...

– Princeton, Minn., Union, July 22, 1897

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wisconsin Brewing Co. Tap Takeover Tonight at Chester V’s

Here’s the menu for the WBC tap takeover starting tonight at 8 p.m. at Chester V’s. Check out those porters... And you can check out the Facebook event page HERE.

Click image to enlarge

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Oshkosh Beer Show #32 - Brutus Strong Ale

This week we’re with Scott Jensen from Dublin’s Irish Pub drinking Milwaukee Brewing Company’s Brutus, a strong ale fit for winter...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tonight: Gardina's Beer Bar Series Vol. 25

And in case you've yet to see this, here's the full rundown on the cask, the taps and the beer dinner happening tonight at Gardina's.
Gardina's Beer Bar Series Vol. 25

Fox River Brewing Co.
Oshkosh, WI

Tuesday, November 19th at 6 PM 

Firkin tapping at 6 PM sharp

This months featured cask is Fox River Brewing Co. Abbey Normal (a Belgian-style Dubbel) conditioned on Brandy-soaked Oak chips.

In addition to the cask tapping, we will be featuring three of FRBC's unique beers on tap in a mini tap-takeover!

FRBC Wildflower Wit

FRBC One Size Fits All West Coast-style IPA

FRBC Port Barrel-aged Belgian Quadrupel

We will also be offering 4 oz flights of the FRBC beers!

Please join us Tuesday, January 19th at 6 PM!

Back by popular demand, we will also be offering our four course chef's tasting menu to pair with the four Fox River brews. You can arrive at any time during normal dinner service hours to take part in this fantastic pairing of culinary creations and world class craft beer! 

Chef's Tasting Menu

$32 Per Person, tax and gratuity not included!

Course 1 Wildflower Wit
Paired with a hot Brussels sprout salad with crispy prosciutto, caramelized fennel, crushed hazelnuts and finished with a Wildflower honey vinaigrette 

Course 2 One Size Fits All IPA
Paired with a scallop Ceviche topped with pickled pineapple, served over avocado Carpaccio and finished with Blaum Bros. Hellfyre Vodka foam

Course 3 Abbey Normal Cask w/ Brandied Oak Chips
Paired with a Chateaubriand of pork, prepared Sous Vide with a tuxedo barley risotto and finished with a wild mushroom jus 

Course 4 Port Barrel-aged Belgian Quadrupel
Paired with a smoked walnut and cranberry cake, finished with Creme Anglaise

Presented by Head Chef Dane Campbell

We are accepting reservations for parties of 6 or more, for smaller parties please arrive early as we do expect this event to be very popular!