Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

August 6, 2009

Beer Diary:

Great Taste Of The Midwest Preview

Whether this is your first Great Taste or you’re a seasoned pro, use the opportunity to check out some of these underrated breweries.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
This Saturday, August 8, is the preeminent beer event of the Midwest: the Great Taste of the Midwest, a gathering of 120 breweries from across the country (but the vast majority from the Midwest) presenting around 500 different brews for thirsty fest goers to sample. With that many beers on hand to entice and titillate, the average attendee can get a little overwhelmed with the number of choices. While there are plenty of must-taste, no-brainer booths to visit—Founders, Three Floyds, Bell’s, New Glarus, Surly, etcetera, etcetera—I recommend straying from the beaten path and checking out some underrated or otherwise hard-to-find breweries that you may not come across again until next years’s Great Taste. Below is a list of breweries I’d recommended giving a taste; and one I’d strongly suggest you avoid.

Barley Island Brewing Co.
The entire state of Indiana gets overshadowed by Three Floyds—and for good reason—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out breweries like Noblesville’s Barley Island, an unsung brewery with a solid line up of brews.

Boulevard Brewing Co.
For me it’s kind of a stretch to call Kansas City part of the Midwest, but that doesn’t mean Boulevard doesn’t make great beer. At the Oregon Brewers Fest this year they had a fantastic Belgian-style ale brewed with corn flakes. Wild. Hopefully they’ll have similarly funky brews at the Great Taste along with their stalwarts.

Flossmoor Station Brewing Co.
A longtime great brew pub in Chicago’s suburbs, Flossmoor recently started bottling, but it can be tricky finding their stuff inside the Chicago area—and impossible outside it. Here’s your chance to get a nip.

Free State Brewing Co.
This brewery claims it’s based in Kansas. I didn’t think they allowed craft brewing there. Worth checking out to see if it actually exists …

Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
A dynamic brew pub in eastern Michigan with a huge variety of styles both historical and funky, Kuhnhenn is one of those breweries that I really wished would package and distribute its great beers across the entire Midwest. For now, though, we’ve got to drink their brews when we come across them at great beer bars and fests like this. Or, you could always visit Warren, Michigan and sip from the source.

Millstream Brewing Co.
For all intents and purposes, this is Iowa’s lone packaging brewer. And they make good beer. Visit them and help promote the Midwest’s most beer-poor state.

Minhas Craft Brewery
How do you know when a brewery isn’t really a “craft” brewery? When the brewery feels the need to put “craft” in its title, unlike the 119 other breweries at the fest (and that’s including MillerCoors-owned Leinenkugel’s). Minhas is a leech on the industry, and is actually nothing more than a marketing and packaging company. My suggestion would be to get a sample of their Minhas Light (marketed as “it’s the cheapest”), immediately dump it, rinse your glass thoroughly, then visit a brewery that actually cares about beer.

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
Sure, the Minnesota brewer people will be clamoring for will be Surly, but another gem from the Minneapolis area (other than Summit—give their Horizon Red Ale a taste if you haven’t already) is this brew pub, with a whole stack of awards to go along with their stellar specialty brews.

Short’s Brewing Co.
Joe Short and company’s brewery up in Bellaire, Michigan features amazingly creative beers—and impossible to get outside of Michigan—with crazy insane concoctions like barrel-aged triple IPAs, smoked apple ales, and rye fruit brews. If you’re not up for tongue-twisting lunacy, at the very least give their Huma-Lupa-Licious a sample and let me know if you think I’m an idiot.

Tyranena Brewing Co.
This small brewery smack dab between Milwaukee and Madison puts out a wide range of familiar styles, but Tyranena really shines with the Brewers Gone Wild series, with giant IPAs (like Hop Whore) and a bourbon-tinged rye porter (Dirty Old Man).

Today is the feast day of St. Arnold, patron saint of beer.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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