70 brews at 17th event
By KRISTYN ADAMS For the Daily News Feb. 22, 2014
Barley Pop Pub & Restaurant will soon host its 17th annual Beer Tasting.
This is an opportunity to see, smell, swish and try 70 microbrewed treasures under one roof in Germantwon. It may help the most persnickety beer-drinker find a keeper while learning about a myriad choices.
“It’s not just the beer,” Kolberg said. “I enjoy the camaraderie and conversation. It’s fun to hear what people think about the different flavors.” Kolberg is looking forward to not having to make up his mind.
“I’ve pretty much settled, but then again, after the (Barley Pop Beer Tasting) I could change my mind.”
He enjoys Anaheim 1888, but Gordon Biersch Maibock is his favorite “because it has a strong taste right at the beginning, but then it calms down and has a smooth finish.”
Barley Pop is co-owned by Scott and Vicki Lear, Don and Deb Reinbold, and Jason Ohm of Waukesha. Ohm is unsure how the Beer Tasting started at the Main Street establishment but said the celebration was standard practice before July 2009 when the business changed hands from Tony Mastronado.
“Nothing will set this year apart,” Ohm said. “Everyone has had a good time for 17 years, so we wouldn’t change a thing.”
Is two hours enough time to taste 70 beers?
“Exactly,” Ohm said. “Most people taste all 70 because it’s more of an exploration or a tour. Others sometimes know from previous tastings what type of beer they like and stick to those varieties.
“Some people don’t want to taste a porter, or maybe they don’t like the bitterness of an (India pale ale). Of course, on March 1, we’ll have plenty of alternatives.” Ohm said samples range from stouts to bocks to ciders.
Microbrewing is the only common thread with all 70 brands that will be on hand.
“People love coming in to exchange insights on all types of beers, and to discover beers they normally wouldn’t find,” Ohm said. “There are serious connoisseurs who take time to really look at a glass; the smell the beer and have a special way to let it roll around their mouth. From one beer to the other, they really try noticing the differences.”
One will not find a spittoon. Unlike wine, beer tasting etiquette does not require spitting out each sample. It is recommended, of course, to have a designated driver. “The beer tasting takes up a lot of space,” Ohm said, adding it takes up the whole building. The kitchen will be closed, but there will be appetizers.
Most beer brands are procured through Beechwood Distributors. Boasting the best beer selection in Wisconsin, Beechwood distributes for Anheuser-Busch InBev brands, Sprecher, Guinness, New Glarus and many others.
“The beer reps come in and discuss the different brews with us,” Ohm said “It’s great to find out more about the recipes, and where the beers originate.”
The beer tasting is an anticipated seasonal highlight for many brew connoisseurs as it features brands off the beaten path. Ohm glanced at his lengthy beer list to find the proper name of his most unusual favorite.
“It sounds crazy, but there’s a milk stout I really like. It’s called Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout.”
Emily Armstrong of Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colo., agrees. “Of all the beers we brew here, the Nitro Milk Stout is wonderful. It’s a super-sweet stout that’s best served cold,” she said. “The best way to have it is right after you pour it very hard from the bottle. You get a creamy foam and it smells like brown sugar.”
An unbiased favorite from a grand collection at any beer tasting seems to leave Armstrong scratching her head, however. “Let me put it this way; beer tasting is like any hobby,” Armstrong said. “The more you get into it, the more you find out about different ingredients and ways the beers are crafted and you realize it’s like peeling an onion.
“At this point, I know I like seasonal brews like our darker Smoked Imperial Porter in the winter or a lighter lager in summertime.”
West Bend’s Lithia Beer will be among the many brews at the event.
The event is 2-4 p.m. March 1 at Barley Pop, N116W16137 Main St. in Germantown.