Thursday, March 31, 2016

​Oshkosh Beer Show #42 – Meet RJ Nordlund, the new Brewmaster at Bare Bones Brewery

This week we’re at Bare Bones Brewery in Oshkosh getting to know RJ Nordlund, the new brewmaster at Bare Bones.

During the episode we touched on RJ’s musical career. Here's a set of links where you can check out his music.
RJ Nordlund solo acoustic. 
Nordlund & The Nomad Assembly on Facebook.
Nordlund & The Nomad Assembly on Band Camp.

Monday, March 28, 2016

From Lachmann to Lion's Tail: A History of Brewing in Neenah

The Neenah Brewery remains a relative unknown within the context of Wisconsin brewing history. That would seem an unusual circumstance for any Wisconsin brewery– like this one – that was in operation for more than 50 years. But the Neenah Brewery’s obscurity isn’t altogether surprising.

This was a brewery that did little advertising. The consequence being that collectors haven’t been able to preserve and pass on the brewery’s vision of itself. Often it’s breweriana collectors who become the stewards of a small brewery’s legacy.

Also conspiring against the Neenah Brewery has been the city’s contentious relationship with alcohol. For much of its early history, Neenah was dominated by Protestant Yankees who had little use for the beer drinking customs of the city’s European immigrants.

Those Yankees and their immediate descendants were also largely responsible for the dissemination of Neenah's early history. It's not coincidence that a brewery conducted by immigrants seldom made it into the record. By the time that prejudice expired, the Neenah Brewery had already been forgotten.

The time is ripe for a fresh look at the history of brewing in Neenah. With the recent launch of Lion's Tail Brewing, the city's beer-making heritage has been renewed. The brewers who created this legacy deserve to be known.

Talk of a Brewery in Neenah
With 1849 came the arrival of breweries to Winnebago County. That year two breweries were launched in Oshkosh and there was talk about this time of one being planned in Neenah. It was said to have been the project of a Welshman named Jones. If said Jones ever did get his brewery up and running in Neenah, it didn’t last. There appears to be no record of this brewery being operational or producing beer for sale.

But Neenah continued to grow. Boosted by an influx of German immigrants, Neenah's population had risen to 1,296 by 1856. It would be only a matter of time before Neenah had its brewery. That time would not be welcomed by all.

Neenah, Circa 1856.
John Robbins Kimberly was among Neenah’s most affluent and influential early settlers. A stern Yankee, Kimberly was asked where he thought a good location for a brewery would be. Kimberly was said to reply, “In Hell, Sir.” His rancor presaged the conflict ahead.

To Kimberly’s chagrin, hell in Neenah would be located on the shore of Little Lake Butte Des Morts on property now addressed as 129 Lake Street. The immigrant who raised that hell was named Jacob Lachmann.

A Brewery Idyll
Born in W├╝rttemberg about 1823, Jacob Lachmann was trained as a brewer in his homeland. He was also a man of his time. Lachmann became engaged in the political upheavals that swept through Europe in 1848, leading a company of "Free Troops" in a struggle for constitutional rights. In the backlash that followed the unrest, Lachmann fled his homeland. He arrived in New York by 1849. Lachmann spent several years on the east coast before going to Milwaukee in 1854, then coming to Neenah in 1856.

On May 21, 1856, Lachmann purchased a portion of Lot 4 in Block 30 of Palmer's Map of Neenah and began building his brewery. By the close of the year, the Neenah Brewery was up and running.

Location of the Neenah Brewery highlighted in red.
Lachmann's was a typical set-up for a brewer of lager beer. The proximity to the lake was ideal. It meant accessibility to an enormous supply of winter ice. The harvesting of that ice and its subsequent storage in the brewery’s lager cellar enabled Lachmann to brew his cool fermenting lager beer even when the weather warmed.

The brewery itself was constructed of brick. The building also doubled as a home for Lachmann, his wife Katrina, their four children and the two workers who often shared quarters with the family. The resemblance to the rustic, village breweries of Germany would have been striking.

Local Beer
Winnebago County breweries of this period were local affairs, their patrons living in close proximity to where the beer was made. The materials used in making the beer were also of local origin.

Barley had been raised in abundance in Winnebago County from the time the land had been opened to farming nearly two decades earlier. Lachmann purchased the grain from nearby farmers and from it made his own brewer's malt. Hop farming had begun by the late 1840s. Like other brewers in the region, Lachmann would have had his pick of the local crop.

By 1870, the Neenah Brewery was just one of 11 such breweries operating in the county. But Lachmann's tenure was already coming to an end. There's some indication that Lachmann was in failing health near the end of his run at the brewery. In any case, in 1872 he sold the brewery and went into retirement.

Gathering Storms
On October 28, 1872, Frank Ehrgott took possession of the Neenah Brewery. He was soon joined in the venture by his brother, Adam. Like Lachmann, the Ehrgott Brothers were German immigrants. But the Ehrgotts would face challenges unknown to their predecessor.

The system of railroads advancing through Winnebago County made it easier for breweries to extend their reach into nearby communities. Menasha's two breweries had already been selling their beer in Neenah. Now the larger breweries of Oshkosh were sending beer into town. Just as troubling was the traction gain by the anti-alcohol brigades.

By 1875, Neenah's temperance supporters were a force to be reckoned with. With names such as The Good Templars (130 members), The Crystal Lodge (more than 80 members), and The Sons of Temperance (75 members), they had become a mainstream element within the community of 4,300. Their aim was to outlaw the sale of alcohol. They wanted nothing less than a dry Neenah.

The dry forces weren't going unopposed. Neenah's 15 saloons had a vested stake in keeping the beer flowing. The patrons of those saloons, many of whom were part of Neenah's populous community of European immigrants, also had no intention of giving up their traditional repast. Neenah's wets and drys were divided not only by ideology, but by ethnicity as well.

The Brothers Ehrgott
Amid the turmoil, the Ehrgott brothers grew their stake in Neenah. By the late 1880s, the Neenah Brewery was producing  just over 400 barrels of beer annually. It was then one of seven breweries in Winnebago County. To help secure their local market, Frank Ehrgott purchased a saloon located at what is now 128 W. Wisconsin Ave. Built a year earlier, the Ehrgott saloon acted as a tied house to the brewery serving only the Neenah Brewery's beer.

The Ehrgott's Tied House.
With Frank running the saloon, Adam Ehrgott took control of the brewery. He assumed full ownership of the Neenah Brewery in September 1882. He appears to have done well during this period. Between 1884 and 1887, Adam Ehrgott made a number of improvements to the brewery, including construction of a new brewhouse and icehouse to the immediate north of the original brewery. The maps below illustrate the brewery's expansion.

The improvements were nearly obsolete by the time they were complete. Other brewers were already phasing out the sort of upgrades Ehrgott was making. Mechanical refrigeration was rapidly replacing the centuries old method of cooling with harvested ice in stone cellars. The old-world ways were at odds with an industry being fundamentally reshaped by science.

The original Neenah Brewery is on the right. The updated ice house and brewery
built during the Ehrgott era is the large building in the center of the photo.
Rivals Near and Far
One of those nearby breweries taking advantage of new technologies was the Walter Brothers Brewing Company in nearby Menasha. Christian and Martin Walter had purchased what had been the Island Brewery in 1888. The Walter Bros. rapidly built up their brewery and began vigorously pushing their beer into the Neenah market.

By the early 1890s, Adam Ehrgott's small brewery was fighting to survive amidst a rising tide of beer from other places. And it wasn't just beer from Menasha or Oshkosh flowing into Neenah anymore. Among the new rivals was a former brewer named Jacob Mayer.

In the 1870s, Jacob Mayer had been part owner of the Island Brewery in Menasha. After selling his stake in that brewery he eventually settled in Neenah where he opened a bottling plant and beer distribution warehouse at the corner of Union and Sherry streets. In partnership with his son Joseph, the Mayers began distributing beer in Neenah that had been brought in by rail from other parts of the state. The Hartig & Manz Brewery of Watertown was one of the Mayer's early clients making its presence known in Neenah.

The Hartig & Manz float in Neenah's 1893 Fourth of July parade.
A bottle from the Mayer's
bottling works.

By 1892, the Mayers were bringing in beer from Miller Brewing of Milwaukee. Miller took a special liking to Neenah, establishing a tied saloon and hotel named Murer House adjacent to the train depot at 432 Sherry Street. Among the first sights passengers encountered when arriving in Neenah by rail was the handsome, brick tavern festooned with signs for Miller Beer.

As it looks today.
For Adam Ehrgott it had become altogether too much. Almost 20 years after the Ehrgott brothers had begun brewing in Neenah, Adam Ehrgott sold the Neenah Brewery. If he harboured a grudge, it didn't best him. He'd later go to work for one of his Menasha rivals, Walter Brothers Brewing.

On November 11, 1901, Henry Angermeyer became the new owner of the Neenah Brewery. The German-born brewer had come to America 15 years earlier and was a week shy of his 39th birthday when he took possession of the brewery.

Angermeyer knew what he was getting into. Prior to his arrival, he'd been brewing beer for the Sterling Brewing Company, of Sterling, Illinois. The situation there was similar to what Angermeyer would take on in Neenah. Sterling had one small brewery and it was engaged in the same sort of regional infighting with other breweries that plagued the Neenah Brewery. It was a battle Angermeyer couldn't win.

Three years after Angermeyer's arrival, the Neenah Brewery was barely getting by. The Wisconsin Blue Book for 1904 lists Angermeyer as the only person working in the Neenah brewery. It was an impossible task for a brewer trying to produce 500 barrels of lager beer a year in an ice-cooled brewery. Things weren't going to get better, either.

On the evening of August 4, 1905, Angermeyer and another Neenah man named Albert Zehner were rowing a boat loaded heavy with ties across the Neenah Slough. Near the Main Street bridge, the boat took on water and began to sink. Zehner managed to swim to shore. Angermeyer didn't. HIs body was pulled from the water by a search and rescue team. Angermeyer was pronounced dead about 9:45 p.m.

Henry Angermeyer left a wife, three young children, and a brewery nearing dissolution.

1906, the Neenah Brewery, Henry Angermeyer Estate...

The Closing Doerr
In October 1906, Lizzie Angermeyer found a buyer for the brewery her late husband had tried to revive. The new owner was named Oscar Doerr. Yet another German-born brewer would ply his trade at the Neenah Brewery.

Prior to his arrival, Doerr had been brewmaster at the White Eagle Brewery of Chicago. His plans for Neenah were ambitious. Two months after his purchase of the Neenah Brewery, The Western Brewer reported, "Mr. Doerr will make many improvements to the plant and until these are completed his customers will be supplied by the Menasha Brewing Company."

Among the planned improvements was the installation of a bottling line, an aspect of the business the Neenah Brewery had evaded to its own detriment. But turning over your accounts to a local rival while you rehabilitate your brewery was not a recipe for success. Doerr's plan fell flat.

At the close of 1909, the Neenah Brewery was all but finished. The inrush of beer from more efficient breweries put Neenah's brewery at a competitive disadvantage too great to overcome. Doerr admitted his defeat. On January 3, the first business day of 1910, Doerr sold the brewery. He would eventually return to Chicago.

The new owner was Louis Sorenson, an employee of the Bergstrom Stove Company. Sorenson had no prior involvement with breweries, but that was beside the point. It appears the purchase was motivated by the prospective return on resale and not an attempt to breathe new life into the brewery. On April 21, 1911, Sorenson sealed the brewery's fate. He sold it to the Walter Brothers Brewing Company.

Walter Brothers had little need for an outmoded brewery just five miles from its modern plant on Nicolet Blvd. The new owners gutted the Neenah Brewery. The building was converted it into a hotel over a saloon selling Walter Brothers beer. For the first time in more than 50 years, Neenah was without a brewery.

The brewery was gone, but the drinking wars raged on.

Drys and Wets
The Walter Brothers' takeover of the brewery came on the heels of a fresh defeat for Neenah's dry forces. In the April elections of 1911, the drys narrowly missed passing a measure outlawing the sale of alcohol in the city. Undeterred they tried again. Then again. Finally, in 1917, the dry faction achieved its goal. On July 1, 1917, Neenah became the only incorporated city in Winnebago County to vote itself dry. The measure was passed into law by a single vote.

The following year, the wets rallied. Again it came to a vote. Neenah voters repealed the dry law by a 13-vote margin. On July 1, 1918, Neenah's saloons were back in business. The final word on the matter came down less than two years later. The 18th Amendment went into effect on January 17, 1920 marking the onset of National Prohibition.

Not surprisingly, Prohibition brought the return of brewing to Neenah. But the brewers had gone underground... literally.

Milwaukee Sentinel, December 23, 1928.

To Ashes
When Prohibition ended in 1933, the breweries of Menasha and Oshkosh resumed operation. In Neenah, the brewery that had once been was too far gone to redeem.

By that time, the Neenah Brewery was barely a memory. Few could recall that there had been a thriving brewery on Lake Street. The smell of beer still lingered, but now it was stale Schlitz at Jerrys' Lakeside Bar. What survived of the past was extinguished in 1968, when the building was gutted again. This time by fire. After the blaze, the remains were knocked down and buried.

The 1968 fire. Photo courtesy of Douglas Bisel.
The aftermath. Photo courtesy of Douglas Bisel.
129 Lake Street, former grounds of the Neenah Brewery.
Roaring Back
Brewing returned to Neenah On November 20, 2015 when Alex Wenzel opened Lion's Tail Brewing Company in the Equitable Reserve Association Building at 116 S. Commercial Street. Like Jacob Lachmann before him, Wenzel is prototypical of the brewers of his generation.

A former homebrewer whose obsession became a profession, Wenzel brews a wide range of beers on a 10-barrel system in a building that was going up just as the Neenah Brewery was going down. The beers Wenzel produces he sells from the taproom he operates in conjunction with the brewery. It's an arrangement the Ehrgott brothers would appreciate.

Alex Wenzel in the Lion's Tail brewhouse.
Among the first beers Wenzel brewed for Lion's Tail was Mile of Munich, a Bavarian-style dark lager. It's a beer that would have tasted familiar to the Neenah pioneers who experienced the pleasure of Lachmann's dark lager 150 years earlier. Wenzel and his brewery have revived an unlikely continuum and are writing the next chapter in a hard-won history that now spans three centuries.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Oshkosh Beer Show #41 – Nitro IPA

This week ​we’re drinking a recent arrival to Oshkosh, Samuel Adams Nitro IPA.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Then and Now: The Parading Oshkosh Beer Cans

In 1949, the Oshkosh Brewing Company began canning its beer. The first type of can used by OBC was a crowntainer, a can with a seamless body and funnel-shaped spout. Initially described as a “metal bottle” crowntainers were introduced in 1939 by the Crown Cork & Seal Company.

Here’s a look at an OBC crowntainer.

Here’s how those cans looked from the top.

To help introduce the new package, OBC made a large replica of the can for the brewery’s float in the 1949 Oshkosh Fourth of July Parade. Here’s that float coming down Oregon Street near 8th Avenue.

When the parade was over the can was taken to the home of OBC executive, Lorenz “Shorty” Kuenzl on Bent Avenue. Here’s Shorty’s 14-year-old son John Kuenzl posing with the can.

John Kuenzl would later be a driver for OBC and eventually become president of Lee Beverage of Wisconsin, a beer distributorship based in Oshkosh. Here he is again with his friend Dick Oaks (of the Oaks Candy family).

Earlier this year, the Society of Oshkosh Brewers was asked to take part in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which took place Saturday on Main Street in Oshkosh. Inspired by the OBC float of 1949, the SOB's parade entry was in keeping with the club's ethos of "Upholding Oshkosh's Brewing Tradition." Instead of doing a single can, though, the SOBs decided to do a six-pack of cans, each adorned with a classic Oshkosh beer label.

Here's the full SOB parade crew just before the start of the parade.

SOB cans parading down Main Street.

Here the cans are piled high in Oblio's after the parade.

A few more shots of the SOBs.

Here's my John Kuenzl reenactment.

Finally, here's a very brief video of the SOB cans executing their crowd-pleasing, figure-eight, six-pack formation.

Much thanks to Kay Kuenzl-Stenerson who was a great help with this post. Also thanks to Chris Bauer, Correen Redlin, and Dick Waltenberry for their pictures posted here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

​ Oshkosh Beer Show #40 – A Wisco Bock Trio

This week we dive into a pool of Bock beer. We’re drinking Wisconsin-brewed Bocks by Huber, Bull Falls, and Lazy Monk breweries. Prost!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Beer Production in Oshkosh and Beyond

Takes a while for this stuff to become public, but the 2015 numbers have finally been released for beer production in Wisconsin. Let’s take a look at how the brewers in our area did last year.

Production is reported in barrels, with one Barrel of beer being equivalent to...
     • 31 U.S. gallons.
     • 13.6 cases of beer.
     • 330 bottles of beer.

Onto the numbers...

Fox River Brewing Company: 2011.5 barrels
A huge year for FRBC, with production up by more than 65%. The Oshkosh branch produced 894.62 bbls. The Appleton brewery made 1116.88 bbls. Most years, production is split evenly between the two breweries, but with the bottling line humming along in Appleton, that brewery now produces the majority of FRBC’s beer. This year will be interesting for Fox River. That rate of growth isn’t sustainable on the brewery’s current systems. If things keep charging along as they have been, Fox River will need to add capacity, perhaps this year.

Bare Bones Brewery: 131.5 Barrels
A good start when you consider that Bare Bones didn’t begin showing up in the Wisconsin production reports until October. The three final months of the year also tend to be among the slowest for brewers. At this pace, Bare Bones would be on track to produce just over 500 bbls a year; a solid number for a new brewery of this size. Here’s some perspective on that: Stillmank Brewing of Green Bay, a packaging brewery established in 2012, produced 1,220 bbls this past year. With a new brewer and packaging equipment coming to Bare Bones this year, I’m looking forward to seeing what this brewery does in its first full year of production.

A few breweries near to Oshkosh.

Stone Arch Brewery: 2852.76 Barrels
Also known as Stone Cellar Brewpub, this is biggest producer around here. Since the brewery began distributing its bottled beer in 2012, production at Stone Arch has been on the rise.

Appleton Beer Factory: 405 Barrels
This Appleton brewpub opened in 2012 and has been producing at about this same rate since its inception. Keep an eye out for ABF beers, the brewery will soon begin distributing its draught beer in Oshkosh.

Rowlands Calumet Brewing Company: 206 Barrels
Established in 1990, this is the longest running small brewer in our area. Chilton’s finest keeps rolling along.

Knuth Brewing Company: 30.3 Barrels
The only true “Nano-Brewery” in our midst, Knuth opened in Ripon last July. The brewery began appearing in Wisconsin production reports in September. Knuth has been averaging 7.575 bbls per months on it’s one-barrel brewing system.

Lion’s Tail Brewing: 0 Barrels
The Neenah brewery opened in November and has yet to be included in Wisconsin production reports. That will change soon.

The coming year will be especially telling. We now have a mix of new and established breweries in this area with more new breweries on the way. In most regions, that type of dynamic tends to favor all of the brewers. Will that happen here? We’ll see.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Visit with Oshkosh Breweriana Collector Greg Putzer

Greg Putzer has been collecting breweriana for almost 50 years. He shows us his massive collection and talks about what the hobby has meant to him.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

​Oshkosh Beer Show #39 – Biere de Mars

This week we get into Uinta Brewing Company's Biere de Mars, a French-style ale aged in Chardonnay barrels. A perfect beer for this time of year in Oshkosh.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

From Lachmann to Lion’s Tail, a History of Brewing in Neenah

Next Thursday (March 17), I'll be at the Neenah Public Library giving a talk about the history of beer and brewing in Neenah.

Did you know Neenah was home to a brewery long before Lion’s Tail came around? It’s true. Jacob Lachmann launched the first brewery in Neenah back in 1856. The city has an interesting and somewhat contentious history when it comes to beer and I’ll be covering the whole story. 

The presentation starts at 7:00 p.m. and will run about an hour. Maybe after, we can all head to Lion’s Tail for a beer. I think that would be the appropriate thing to do.

Monday, March 7, 2016

An Afternoon with Chuck Rahr

Charles Rahr died last week Monday, February 29. He was 87 years old.

He preferred to be called Chuck.

Chuck Rahr was the last brewmaster at the Oshkosh brewery owned by his family. His great-grandfather Charles Rahr launched Rahr Brewing Company in 1865.

Chuck Rahr was born 63 years later on October 3, 1928. At that time, no beer was flowing from his family's brewery. Prohibition was on. The Rahr's were getting by making soda water.

Chuck was six years old when the ban on beer was lifted in 1933. He told me most of his early memories involved the brewery where his father, Carl – the third generation of Rahr brewers – made beer.

In February 2011, I was fortunate to get to know Chuck Rahr. I was put in touch with him by Oshkosh beer historian and breweriana collector Ron Akin.

The first couple of times Chuck and I spoke were over the phone. The conversations were awkward. I came away with the impression he didn't want to be bothered. I persisted, explaining that I wanted to write a story about his career at the brewery. That story had never been told. I said to him that I thought it was important and that people would be interested. He didn't seem to share my enthusiasm. We were getting nowhere. I asked if I could come see him. He agreed and we set the date.

February 7, 2011, I drove to his home in Appleton. It was a dreary, Monday afternoon. When he let me inside, I remember thinking of my late uncle's house. Like Chuck, he had been a lifelong bachelor and his home had the slightly disheveled look of a place tailored to the eccentricities of an elderly, single man. You could tell he was comfortable there.

We started talking. At first, it was mostly just me talking. He didn't seem the least bit interested. For no reason I could discern, he showed me one of his numerous trap-shooting trophies. Chuck had been a champion marksman, winning his first state title for trapshooting in 1970. That's what he wanted to talk about. Not me. I was there to talk about beer.

I pulled a sheet of paper from a folder I had brought full of newspaper clippings, pictures and other items pertaining to the Rahr brewery. The sheet in my hand contained the recipe for Rahr's Elk's Head Beer.

I handed the paper to him and asked if we could sit down and go over it. We sat at his dining-room table and he looked over what I had given him. He wasn't at all happy when he realized it was the recipe for the beer he used to make.

He wanted to know where I had gotten it. I didn't like his indignation and didn't want to tell him. Now I was getting angry, too. This was going to hell before it even started. I asked him why my having the recipe was a problem. He told me he didn't want people making bad beer from that recipe and then calling it Rahr's beer. He told me about homebrew he had tasted and that it was terrible.

I told him I hadn't come there to talk about homebrew, but that I was a homebrewer and could make good beer. I offered to make a batch of Elk's Head for him to prove it. That offer seemed to mellow him. He explained that he couldn't drink beer anymore because of health issues he was having. I asked if he had been much of a beer drinker back when he was a brewer. Still looking at the recipe for Elk's Head, he said, "I loved beer."

From that point on, we got along wonderfully. It turned into one of the most memorable afternoons of my life. Once we started talking deeply about beer he was nothing like the distracted, detached man I had first encountered. His mind was sharp and he was generous in sharing his knowledge. He had vivid memories of the brewery and his days making beer there.

He didn't seem to care anymore about me having that recipe. We went through the entire thing, step by step. Before long, I wasn't even asking questions. I didn't have to. He went off on one interesting tangent after another about making that beer. The only downside was me trying and failing miserably to scribble every word he said into a notebook. I wish now that instead of sitting there with my head in that notebook I had spent more time watching him as he explained things to me.

We talked for several hours. By the end, Chuck's voice had grown raspy. I asked him what it felt like when the brewery closed. His answer was oblique, but said everything. "Even as a little kid I used to watch my dad brew the beer," he said. "It was our life.” To hear him say it was a heartbreaking thing.

We went down to his basement so he could show me some of the memorabilia he still had from the brewery. I took pictures of him holding several of the pieces. I was happy to see that the picture of him accompanying his obituary in last week's Northwestern was from one of the pictures I took that day.

A couple weeks after that meeting, I posted the story I wrote about Chuck Rahr and his brewing career. I printed a copy of it and mailed it to him. Chuck never told me whether he liked it or not. And I never asked. I think if he had disliked it, I would have heard about it. He wasn't shy about telling you when he thought he’d been wronged.

Chuck Rahr lived a somewhat solitary existence in his latter years. After we met, I often wondered if others ever saw the side of him I was lucky enough to get to know when we talked about beer. I didn't have to wonder about that too long.

A few months after meeting Chuck, I was talking to a friend of mine, a fellow member of the Society of Oshkosh Brewers named Gary Fenrich. We were at an SOB meeting and Gary mentioned off hand that he had met Chuck Rahr, a year or so earlier. I was floored.

At the time, Gary was exploring the idea of starting a contract brewery and perhaps reviving one or more of the regional beer brands that once flourished in Wisconsin. His pursuit of that idea led him to Chuck Rahr and an experience much like my own.

After Chuck's death last week, Gary sent me a text asking if I'd heard the news. I had. We wound up talking on the phone sharing our memories of Chuck with one another.

"He was just a nice guy," Gary said. "When he started talking to me about the brewery, it was almost like he was living back at that time. He was so proud of what they had done. He walked me through the years of the brewery and all the camaraderie he had with all these other small brewers. It was incredible."

I told Gary again about the afternoon I spent at Chuck’s house. Gary remarked about the similarity to his meeting with Chuck. "That's almost exactly what it was like for me when I met him," he said. "It’s almost like we were together when we were talking to him. It’s not like it was scripted, but it was almost like he was waiting for us to get there."

I’d like to think he was. I'm glad we made it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Oshkosh Beer Show #38 – Almanac Beer Company

This week we check out Almanac Beer Company, a brewery new to the Oshkosh scene. We're drinking Almanac's excellent Barbary Coast Imperial Stout.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tuesday Brew News

A few notes about what’s up now...

Hops & Props
Oshkosh’s largest beer fest is set to kick off this Saturday, March 5, at 7 p.m. in the EAA’s AirVenture Museum. Tickets for the three-hour fest are $75 and there are still some left. Grab them online HERE. Even if you’re not going, you might want to peruse the massive beer list they’ve lined up for this year’s fest. Check that out HERE.

A New Brewmaster Coming to Bare Bones
In early February, Bare Bones Brewmaster Lyle Hari accepted a position with Props Brewery & Grill in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Lyle will finish his term in Oshkosh in mid-March. His replacement at Bare Bones will be announced shortly. More coming on this in the near future.

Tap Lists
Over in the column on the left you’ll notice two recent additions to the Oshkosh Area Tap Lists (revert to web view,  phone users!). In the past couple weeks both Barley & Hops and Oblio’s have begun posting their taplists online via Taphunter. Nice job, folks! I've also just added Lion’s Tail Brewing in Neenah to the list of Oshkosh area taps. I figure they’re close enough to be included in our scene.

The First Time in a Long Time
Something struck me the other day while I was cruising the beer isle at Festival Foods in Oshkosh. Right now is the first time in 45 years that there have been six-packs of beer from two Oshkosh breweries being sold from retail shelves here. The last time it happened was 1971 when the Oshkosh Brewing Company and Peoples Brewing were still going concerns. Maybe I’m getting sentimental in my old age, but this shit warms my heart. Prost!