Wisconsin’s craft beverage scene has exploded in recent years with an array of micro-breweries, wineries and distilleries cropping up around the state. In fact, in 2019, national statistics revealed that “Wisconsinites have 634 drinks per year. That’s nearly 150 extra drinks more than the national average—an entire keg more than your average American.” Thus, if you are a local beer, spirit or wine connoisseur, sipping your way around the state could take while. Consider this list of Wisco-made libations a good place to start.
“Overall, our mission is to give customers a ground-to-glass experience of this new wine region of the Wisconsin Ledge AVA. We want to grow and create a distinctive regional wine style that has the potential for world-class greatness,” says winemaker and co-proprietor Steve Johnson. “People are very excited to know that when they are enjoying these wines they are among less than one percent of our nation to have experienced these new varietals from an unforeseen part of the wine world.” For those who gravitate toward red wines, Johnson suggests trying M, the 2019 vintage of made from Marquette grapes. “This varietal has a pedigree of pinot noir and offers notes of black cherry, plus and a hint of spice,” he says. And for white wine fans, he recommends The Brianna, which is “also a new release and popular because of its intense floral aromatics and flavors of grapefruit and pineapple.” Another fun fact is that it is named after the grape it is made from!
“For our birthday this year, we gave ourselves what every 2-year-old wants: a nitrogen dosing system, which allows us to put nitro beers into cans, including our Chocolate Coffee Peanut Butter Porter,” says co-owner Missy Martens. “This beer—full of all those delicious words and flavors—was the reason we splurged. And our latest nitro can is our Platinum Blonde Coffee Stout, full-bodied and sweet, with a light bright base and surprisingly fun coffee flavor and aroma.”
J Henry & Sons also recently celebrated a milestone—its 10th anniversary! To commemorate a decade of making award-winning bourbons, The Henry Family released son Joe’s first limited-edition blend. “Our 2019 Anniversary Blend earned 93 points from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, and this month we released our oldest bourbon, eight-year Patton Road Reserve,” says co-owner Liz Henry. “We’re also anxiously anticipating the release of the 2020 limited-edition blend on Friday, Nov. 27.”
“Justif-I-ed PA West Coast Hazy IPA combines the best qualities of classic West Coast IPAs with those of New England-style Hazy IPAs—its astounding crispness marries perfectly with bursting juiciness and haze. Blueberry, guava and mango aromas and flavors pop from the can like fresh-cut fruit,” says CEO Ryan Browne. This brew is also a collaboration with Justified Anger and local artist Lilada Gee, with a $1 of every four-pack sold in the taproom or at Working Draft Beer Company pop-ups donated to a Black-led organization and an artist-led initiative that are advocating for justice, equity and positive change. “Gee took the blank canvas of the 16-oz. can the beer is packaged in and created a stunning and beautiful piece,” he says. Gee’s vibrant imagery was inspired by “using the justice scale as earrings and imaging what a Black woman would feel like if she was enjoying the feeling of justice for herself, her family and her community.”
“One of the things that we love about being from Wisconsin is that we have four distinct seasons that really affect our mindset and what we like to imbibe,” says co-founder Tom Dufek. “As the weather turns to fall and the days get shorter, we are looking for cozier beers with heartier ingredients. You’ll see boozier stouts and bigger Belgian styles.” Dufek recommends sampling the dry hopped, Hazy Double IPA A Fine Tapestry of Profanity and Topher Grace? No. Absolutely Not, a rum runner inspired sour with pomegranate, mango and cinnamon while they’re on tap at its King Street location in Downtown Madison.