While I have been a homebrewer for more than 20 years, my first first beer fest was the Kohler event a year ago. And it was an amazing eye-opener. Uplifting and deflating and ultimately, a marvelous experience.
It was uplifting to see and taste all the wonderful new brews the current generation of micro-brewers are designing and making. While I’d like to see more good old-fashioned quality pilsners, I applaud the marvelous concoctions I sampled. I may not be on board with the current obsession with Belgians and shandys (often too sweet for me) and turbo-charged imperial stouts (a little too combustible). But there’s no denying these beers are made really well by really impressive people, and there’s no better place to check them out than the Festival of Beer.
It was deflating in the sense that I briefly had brewing envy. While my beers are adored by those who drink them, the Kohler micro-brews were so technical-color. No worries. I got over it quickly with the help of friends Tom Bedell and Tom Harack. We toasted and moved on.
Impressed by my Kohler experience, I went to a beer fest in Chicago’s Old Town, a benefit for St. Michael’s church if I remember correctly, and it was also pleasant–a fun atmosphere in which to check out some delightful beers.
If you’re a golfer, you know what I mean. If you’re not a golfer, no worries. What makes Kohler’s Festival of Beer–what a great name–is its thoughtfulness and its great setting. The beer-and-chocolate pairing is inspired. Building on that, this year’s schedule has many other food-and-beer connections, from dining to seminars with chefs. There’s also a pub crawl, a 5K beer run, a beer-and-golf event.
There’s also a home-brew competition. If the next generation wasn’t so darned good at brewing, I’d think about entering.
For more information click on: Kohler Festival of Beer, May 31 to June 2, Kohler, Wisconsin. (near Sheboygan).