Six Beers to Represent Your State
I just received a fascinating care package from America’s Dairyland. Travel Wisconsin has put together a promo pack to promote the state’s breweries. It comes with a media kit promoting the state and pictures of lots of smiling people enjoying beer. And it includes a six-pack of these beers:
- New Glarus Spotted Cow. The one predictable inclusion, Spotted Cow is both the flagship of the craftiest of Wisconsin’s craft beers as well as its second-best seller (trailing only Miller Lite).
- Lakefront IPA. Lakefront’s a stalwart of the state’s craft movement, founded in 1987. Its neither as old or traditional as Madison’s Capital (1984). But Lakefront’s from Milwaukee, not New Glarus-adjacent Madison, and I guess they wanted geographical diversity.
- Tribute Brewing Old Eagle Chocolate Porter. Umm. It’s in the far north of the state?
- Hinterland Packerland Pilsner . This Green Bay brewery is in the shadow of Lambeau Field—enough said.
- Potosi Golden Ale . The story behind this brewery is much like Fitger’s—a century of life in Potosi before collapse in the 70s.
- Leinenkugel’s Wisconsin Red Pale Ale. This isn’t too surprising. Miller may be the biggest remaining old-time brewery, but Leinie is the most beloved. The red pale though—another hmm on that one.
Wisconsin is unique in that it never lost its regional lager makers. Beyond Miller and Leinie, there’s Minhas and Stevens Point and the biggie, Pabst, which is slowly reinhabiting its ghostly old abandoned buildings. (One of the items in the press kit was a Pabst-is-back-in-Milwaukee video.) So of course that presence would be represented in a six pack. And you can sort of see some logic elsewhere. But it’s also a slightly disappointing pack—all but one of the beers are pale ales or lagers. I’d have liked to see one or two beers from the new guard, in a more daring styles.
Still, this would be incredibly hard. A travel bureau would have to do several things at once—represent the tradition and history of a state’s brewing industry, offer regional diversity, try to create a sense of dynamism and excitement, and perhaps most importantly, not alienate the very brewers they’re trying to promote. I suppose that probably leads, nine times out of ten, to a more cautious approach.
Let’s think about it another way. You’re going to make a six-pack of your state’s breweries to send to, oh, I don’t know, your favorite beer blogger in Oregon. If you wanted a beer person elsewhere to understand the skill, tradition, and breadth of your state’s beer, which would you choose? It’s really hard!
As a discussion starter, here’s an Oregon six-pack I could live with: Barley Brown Pallet Jack (let’s imagine I find it in a growler): a great Oregon IPA from the east side. Upright Pathways Saison: we have an amazing wild ale tradition here, and this is one of the best. Ft George Cavatica Stout: dark ales have a long and important history here, and Ft George’s Festival of the Dark Arts turns Astoria into a month-long stout haven. Deschutes Twilight: there needs to be a beer representing the history and tradition of the state; Deschutes has been our best-seller for years, and this is a wonderful little session ale that captures why they got so popular. pFriem Pilsner: I often joke that Oregon’s secret weapon are our pilsners, and you gotta have a Hood River brewery there. Block 15 Sticky Hands: because you have to have two IPAs on any Oregon list as well as a Corvallis/Eugene brewery.
But wait, this means no Breakside, which is pretty shocking. No Buoy or De Garde or Ninkasi or Gigantic or ... you see how impossible this would be. I’m already forsaking my own list
Anyway, fun parlor game. Give it your best shot.