Photography by Dave Compton Wolff
Wisconsin has long been hailed as the Land of Beer, and the Fox Cities craft beer scene supports that reputation – just take a look at these locally brewed beauties if you need proof.
Grab a designated driver (not it) and make a day of checking out the breweries in your own backyard. Cheers!
Vixen’s Vanilla Cream Ale
Fox River Brewing Co., Appleton and Oshkosh
Flavor profile: Fruity, with a sweet cookie-like nose
Perfect for: offering to guests at your Christmas party
This recently released golden strong ale offers the perfect amount of sweet and spice. Expect a strong Madagascar vanilla flavor balanced by the subtle spice of cinnamon, finished with the crispness of California orange peel. Spices were added to the kettle during the brewing process as well as in the aging tank for increased depth of flavor. Malt character is slight, while hop flavor and bitterness are close to absent.
Stone Arch Scottish Style Ale
Stone Arch Brewery, Appleton
Flavor profile: Rich caramel with a hint of smoke
Perfect for: sipping along with some live music
This easy-drinking amber beer is described as a gateway craft beer – it’s the first beer brewers at Stone Arch recommend to newbie craft brew drinkers. Its sweet profile, with pronounced malts and faint hops, makes it a great choice for those dipping their toes into the craft beer pool for the first time. We recommend pairing it with a cheese flight and some live music on Tuesday night from 6–9 p.m. in the Stone Arch Tap Room.
Dog Daze American IPA
Bare Bones Brewery, Oshkosh
Flavor profile: Hoppy, with bold citrus notes
Perfect for: becoming your new go-to brew
The flagship beer at Bare Bones Brewery is this India Pale Ale that is all about the hops. Brewmaster RJ Nordlund says tame malts support the hops and allow them to truly shine, with Chinook and Centennial hops providing the bold citrus flavor. With an 8 percent ABV, it’s a bit on the stronger side, so proceed with caution. Or don’t, but we warned you. Bonus: the Bare Bones Brewery tap room is dog-friendly, so bring the fur family along on your visit.
Bourbon Trail Barrel-Aged Stout
Lion’s Tail Brewing Company, Neenah
Flavor profile: Rich vanilla, roast coffee with cream
Perfect for: drinking with dessert
This velvety stout was the first release from Lion’s Tail barrel-aged beer series. Two batches of their oatmeal stout were aged in barrels from distilleries along Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail (hence the name). The stout aged in the barrels for about a year, developing a lively 8 percent ABV while borrowing flavors of charred oak, vanilla and caramel from the bourbon-soaked barrels.
Little Chute Brewing Co., (inside Main Event Steakhouse) Little Chute
Flavor profile: Medium bodied with hints of banana and clove
Perfect for: reminiscing about warm summer days
Little Chute’s first original brew is this pale-in-color, light-in-hops traditional witbier — a nod to the town’s Dutch heritage. The strong wheat presence provides a light crispness and a subtle sour twang. This easy-drinking, hazy beer is a great end-of-summer sipper, or just a mid-winter reminder that sunny days are ahead. Fans of Blue Moon Belgian White and Hoegaarden Original White Ale will definitely want to add this local version into their rotation.
Resolution Barrel Aged Imperial Porter
Appleton Beer Factory
Flavor profile: Sweet tobacco, vanilla coffee and a little coconut
Perfect for: lounging by the fire, preferably in a snow-covered lodge somewhere
The Zusammen Project (Zusammen means “together” in German) is Appleton Beer Factory’s new barrel-aging program which crafts beers with complex flavors using local ingredients. Its latest release is this chocolaty imperial porter. Brewer James Bardeen is heading the program which repurposes old bourbon and wine barrels for aging beer anywhere from 6-18 months. This porter has been aged in rye whiskey and bourbon barrels from a craft distillery in Illinois. The barrels lend flavors of vanilla and even slight coconut notes to the 9 percent ABV beer.
Courthouse Pub, Manitowoc
Flavor profile: Malty, with a touch of spice
Perfect for: a Saturday afternoon, after the yard work is done
A lighter styled Marzan with mild hops, this Munich Helles was one of the first beers brewed when Courthouse Pub began making beer 15 years ago. It’s been on tap (almost always) ever since. Golden in color, it’s a well-balanced beer that shouldn’t be overlooked for its simplicity. The beer’s pleasant flavor – not too hoppy or overly sweet – makes it a favorite of craft beer snobs and new beer lovers alike.