Sunday, October 20, 2013

A New Milestone in the History of Brewing in Oshkosh

Richard Cardenas Brewing in the Street
That’s a grandiose title for a blog post as pedestrian as this one is sure to be, but there is a small twist of truth to it. Saturday morning, a couple of SOBs (Society of Oshkosh Brewers) did something with beer that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been done with beer in this city before: they brewed it in the middle of N. Main Street.

Now it is possible that Leonard Schiffmann may have been brewing beer in his saloon on Main St. back in the 1870s, but what took place on Saturday was different. These beers were brewed in the actual street. I mean in the road itself. And I admit that I’m one of the two who committed beer out there on the pavement. Here’s what happened: The SOBs had a stand at the Saturday Farmer’s Market promoting, the club and their upcoming event Casks & Caskets. While that was going on, Richard Cardenas and I set up our brewing equipment in the street and proceeded to make beer. Richard brewed an Irish Red Ale and I made a German Dark Lager. We hadn’t planned it this way, but those were fitting beers to break in Main Street  as a brewery when you take Oshkosh’s ethnic background into consideration. And while the beer was being made in the street, another SOB, Jody Cleveland, was giving away free sample of his homebrew in Oblio’s.

So is this stuff of any consequence? Of course, not. But I still like the idea of it. And I think it’s kind of indicative of what’s happening beerwise in Oshkosh as of late. This is a beer-centric community of more than 60,000 people with just one brewery. Historically, this has been a place that’s supported multiple breweries even during times when the population was a fraction of what it is now. That leaves us with a void that’s being filled by homebrewers. It’s not all that different from what occurred during Prohibition. When commercial beer became illegal, homebrewing in Oshkosh exploded. Over the past couple of years, there's been a similar growth in homebrewing here. Currently, the SOBs have more than 70 members, but that number, by no means, represents the total number of homebrewers in this area. At this point, there are probably hundreds of people making beer in this city. And that’s really how it should be. As it always has, Oshkosh brews.

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