In about a week's time, Madison Craft Beer Week kicks off, offering more than 300 beer-focused events from April 28 to May 7 in the area. It seems Madison's brewers are rolling out new brews and collaborations by the dozen, and many will come just in time for a week that celebrates the spirit and craft in which these beers were created. Aside from a few Craft Beer Week-eve events on April 27 (including the Isthmus Cask Ale Fest at the Madison Children's Museum), once April 28 hits, these craft brews will officially be flowing freely in Madison area pubs, restaurants and breweries.
The name of the game in craft brewing is collaboration, it seems, as a signature of Craft Beer Week is the annual Common Thread Collaboration brew. This year marks the sixth time Wisconsin brewers have joined forces to create a beer, which is a Baltic porter brewed at host brewer Ale Asylum. The release party for this brew, which will be 5-8 p.m. April 23 at Ale Asylum, comes a few days before the official week starts.
Also just in time for Craft Beer Week are three other Wisconsin brews with interesting stories behind their creations:
1. Red Arrow American Pale Ale, Wisconsin Brewing Co.
Keeping with the theme of collaboration, Red Arrow American Pale Ale has recently been brought to full-scale production, the product of a three-year-old partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Brewing Co. One of six student teams out of the UW-Madison College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Department of Food Science had the winning recipe for the brew, which was judged by a panel of industry professionals, experimented with by professor Jim Steele and Hans Zoerb of Campus Craft Brewery and brewed within a set of standards determined by Wisconsin Brewing Co.
As if the story behind the creation of this brew wasn't interesting enough, the branding of the brew (developed by UW-Madison's School of Journalism) is also an interesting one. Red Arrow honors the 100th anniversary of WWI and the 32nd Division. The 32nd Division, which is comprised of Wisconsin National Guard volunteers, earned the name Red Arrow from their ability to consistently and successfully pierce enemy lines.
At the start of Craft Beer Week, Red Arrow will be available at the Wisconsin Brewing Tap Haus downtown as well as the Wisconsin Brewing Co. in Verona. It will also be available on tap and in stores throughout Wisconsin.
Meet some of the individuals behind the creation of this APA:
2. Oranje Crush, Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.
Another beer you'll find at many Craft Beer Week events is Great Dane's latest—Oranje Crush. This saison (a fruity farmhouse ale perfect for summer) is made with Mandarina Bavaria hops and a bit of bitter orange peel. A creamy mouthfeel is met by a dry, malty flavor that still has that orange-flavored tangyness, with a carbonated pop on the finish.
Try this beer during Craft Beer Week by picking up a six pack or single can at any Great Dane location, and join Great Dane at any of the following Craft Beer Week events:
Isthmus Cask Ale Fest: 7-10 p.m., April 27 at the Madison Children's Museum
Beer and Wing Ding: 5-7 p.m., May 3 at the Great Dane's downtown location on East Doty Street.
Madison Craft Beer'd Championship: 7-10 p.m., May 4 at the Great Dane's downtown location on East Doty Street.
Beer & A Bloody: noon-2 p.m., May 6 at the Great Dane's downtown location on East Doty Street.
We think this beer would definitely be Kel-approved.
3. Anniversary Lager, Leinenkugel's
Another collaboration brew recently released is one that celebrates the anniversary of the 150-year-old Jacob Leinenkugel's Brewing Co. The limited-edition Leinenkugel's Anniversary Lager was made with Munich-based Hofbräu München brewery, and is part of a year-long celebration the brewery has planned. America and Germany join forces for this Märzen-style lager, as American hops meet German malt. It's brewed in the sprit of Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity law dating back to the 1500s that regulated what was allowed to go into beer.
"As we discussed how to celebrate this incredible milestone for our brewery, we wanted to ensure whatever we did was truly genuine and in the spirit of what we've been doing for a century and a half," says Dick Leinenkugel, president of the brewing company.
Set to arrive on draft at select bars this month and available in six packs in June, the lager will also be celebrated at an anniversary party on Aug. 11-12 at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.