Drink:Grace:Travel – 2012 Year in My Phone Camera Review

I just got a new phone.  It was time to clean out the old phone – messages, pictures, etc.

I thought it might be interesting to see the 2012 year-in-review according to a select group of my cell phone pictures.  I take a lot of pictures when I travel, so not every place ends up on the phone, but it’s a good random 2012 year in review.

It shows I am certainly blessed with wonderful a family, great friends and a good life.

Drink: Brew Day with Mike Brenner

Sometimes your travels just occur at home. This time we travelled to the kitchen to brew beer with a soon to be famous Milwaukee brewer.  Mike Brenner is a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Technology’s Master Brewer program.  Mike runs Brenner Brewing company, which is a “brewery-in-planning” that will focus on craft beers featuring the artwork of local Milwaukee artists on the labels. Mike started out as an artist and still loves the art scene.  Mike relates that “It all started on a sunny spring morning four years ago while homebrewing a batch of beer in front of my art gallery, Hotcakes. I realized that for 8 years people had been coming to my arts events for the beer in the keg more than the art on the walls. Then it hit me. I needed to flip the whole process. Instead of luring people into my art gallery with free beer and then trying to convince them to buy art, I should sell the beer and use my brewery as a vehicle to support and promote local artists and musicians.”   Mike is currently looking for potential investors so if you have a fat savings account that you need to put to good use contact Mike.  You may have a chance at investing in a new Milwaukee brewery.  Mike started raising money to fund the brewery on Kickstarter – that was where I located him and made a donation which gave Ryan and I a brewing day with Mike at our house.

Random nonsense:  Here’s a video of Mike that you may have some trouble forgetting! 

After some discussion with Mike, we decided to do 2 batches while he was here, a Hopfen weisse and an extract version of his awesome Brenner Brewing Witchcraft Imperial Stout.  That was a lot to take on with only one stove in the house, so Mike brought along his old turkey fryer burner and a large kettle for us to make the stout outside while we brewed the Weise inside on the stove.

DSC_0097 Here’s the raw ingredients, 36 pounds of liquid malt, 12 pounds or so of grain to steep, a pound of coffee, some honey, molasses and other miscellaneous odds and ends.





Hops, hops and more hops!







Mike and Ryan are studying the recipe and making final preparations, adjustments and the occasional witty repartee to help pass the many hours the brewing process takes.



While the hopfen weisse started in one pot, it quickly moved into 2 before boil as there was about a 1000%+ chance of boil over.




Here you can see that we started the brew process in the daylight, however it was long gone by the time the stout hit a boil.  It was a windy day so we put some old doors in place to block the wind to get as much heat up into the kettle as possible.  This is true brewing genius level improvisation.


In the photo you can see an official Brenner Brewing company kettle as well as the company car!  I believe it is an Austin Martin smartly disguised as a cheap domestic so it can be parked at any bar downtown without being hassled.



We moved the kettle into the garage to get even further out of the wind.  The sun set and a boil was eventually achieved!





The stout is looking good!  We made so much that we had to distribute it to 3 different fermenters to accommodate it all.  The hopfen weisse was completed much earlier and is fermenting in a plastic bucket.

Check back with us in about 6 weeks for the hopfen weisse and about 6 months to see how the stout developed!  After racking the stout we added vanilla beans and oak, so it should be a big flavor bomb.

We had a great time with Mike and look forward to either getting new  jobs at Brenner Brewing Company once it opens or at least going for one of the tours.

Drink: Beer & Food Pairing at Red Eye Brewing Company, Wausau

Recently we hosted a Wisconsin craft brewing tour group, that stopped at Red Eye Brewing Company in Wausau, WI for a very special beer and food pairing lunch.

Let’s just start out by saying that the gang at Red Eye absolutely exceeded all of our wildest expectations for this experience.  You know how when you first meet someone who has a high level of excitement and enthusiasm for their work?  You can tell within just a few minutes or so that the person has great passion for what they do.  Passion is definitely a good word that describes what is going on at Red Eye. 

Pat, Beth and David at Red EyeOne of our greatest desires with our “Microbrews & Other Tastes of Wisconsin Tour” was to have a special beer and food pairing experience.  After our first visit to check out Red Eye, we knew we found the perfect place for this. Chefs David Lorio and Beth Hinner (pictured at right with Pat Cherek) embraced our idea for the pairings for our group. Based on feedback from everyone, they created a truly memorable dining experience.

Microbrews & Other Tastes of Wisconsin TourThe chefs designed a 5 course menu that paired up a unique hand crafted beer with complementary artisanal food.  Red Eye focuses on the freshest ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible.  The world class beers are brewed by award winning brewmaster Kevin Eichelberger.  For each course the food was described by either David or Beth and the beer description was given by Pat.

So let’s take a look at the pairings!  While we are not food critics, we’ll do our best to describe in words what is really better off being tasted.

First up we have Bloom, a Belgian wheat beer paired with Fresh Catch Ceviche in a shot glass.  It was a perfect compliment of the refreshing citrus flavors in the beer with the bracing acidity of the ceviche – it very quickly disappeared from everyone’s plate.  What a great start!

Craft Beer Tour Red Eye Brewing Wausau 3-31-2012 11-59-08 AM

For our second course, Chef Beth prepared a Goat Cheese and Raisin Compote on Filo.  The raisins were lovingly bathed overnight in Scarlet 7, a Belgian Dubbel that was also the beer we tasted with this dish.  We will never look at a raisin the same way again, they were beautifully transformed and taken to a whole new level.  The simplicity of this creation really hides the subtle complexity of the flavors that came through.  Absolutely delicious.

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Now it was time for some soup.  How about Shrimp Bisque and Thrust, an American style Pale Ale?  The soup had tremendous depth of flavor and a pleasant biting edge to it.  The hoppy bitterness of the beer, softened up a bit as it not only complimented the soup, but had to compete with the soup for the attention of your tongue.  It was a good competition and both the soup and the beer won!

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Now it is time for the main course.  A couple of weeks before our visit, Red Eye had just released Smolder a Marzen Rauchbier .  Once upon a time, all beer malt probably had a smoky quality from the wood that would have been used to fire the kiln, but eventually they found ways to dry malt in a smoke free manner and called it progress.  In the northern Bavarian town of Bamberg there is still a pocket of old styled Rauchbier being brewed, but for this beer experience we don’t have to go to Germany, as brewmaster Kevin created the flavors for us right here in Wausau.  What could possibly pair better with Smolder beer, than smoked pork ribs?  Really only one thing, Smolder with David’s Red Eye smoked pork ribs with jalapeno corn bread on the side.  Now you would certainly not describe Red Eye as a rib joint, but here is a typical comment from folks on the tour – “Best ribs I’ve ever had”.  The meat was moist, flavorful and oh so wonderfully tender, and yes they actually were the best ribs we ever had.

Craft Beer Tour Red Eye Brewing Wausau 3-31-2012 12-37-53 PM

Still hungry?  It’s time for dessert!  Now beer is not often thought of as the perfect drink to go with dessert.  It may be true that not every beer pairs well with dessert, but if you happen to have a great stout handy, bring on the chocolate!  This is exactly what Chef Beth did for our group, she created a chocolate cupped coffee mousse and paired it with Veruca Milk Stout.  There are great coffee notes in this stout. Milk Stouts are created by adding lactose which is an unfermentable sugar derived from milk. In the hands of a great brewmaster the addition provides wonderfully mild sweetness and a fuller body to the beer.  The chocolate mousse was creamy, sweet and oh so divine.  Several of the guests asked Beth if they could get her recipe.

Craft Beer Tour Red Eye Brewing Wausau 3-31-2012 12-51-45 PM


It was a great meal, great beers and gourmet food, transformed into a really unique experience by eating it with a view of the brew tanks on one side and the open concept kitchen on the other.  Everything was seamlessly woven together by beer descriptions from Pat and Food descriptions from David and Beth.  We weren’t done yet, but the group broke into applause to show their enthusiastic appreciation. 

The food was all gone, but it was time for a tour of the brewing area, and then afterwards some time to relax at the bar before we have to head out.

Craft Beer Tour Red Eye Brewing Wausau 3-31-2012 1-06-58 PM

Pat explains the brewing process and what makes Red Eye and their craft beers unique.

Craft Beer Tour Red Eye Brewing Wausau 3-31-2012 1-15-47 PM

We will need to make a return trip for when these barrel aged brews are released!  I know I saw an Imperial Stout there.

OK I think by now you get the idea that we really loved our beer and food pairing at Red Eye – just amazing.  For our 3 day tour, it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for everyone.  We have not scheduled the next tour yet, but if you want to get on the list to be notified you can sign-up at www.getawaybeer.com and if you like us on Facebook, you’ll also be one of the first to know – www.facebook.com/getawaybeer.

We’d like to reveal one secret about Red Eye, that you may not know.  If you are in Wausau with us on a beer/food experience or go to visit on your own, about 5 minutes away from Red Eye is Bull Falls Brewery. In a future blog, we’ll let you know why they are also worth a visit.