Beer Me: Beer Fridge

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Every problem is a potential opportunity. And beside cirrhosis of the liver, the opportunity presented by our bursting-at-the-seams beer fridge is to taste dozens of varieties of delicious brews – right from the comfort of home.

Thanks to a perfect storm of a beer of the month club membership, trips to Discount Liquor & Woodman’s, white elephant gifts, and the generosity of friends – we have more beer than (gasp) even we can drink (and still operate as parents and contributing members of society).

From cheap to classy, Olde English to MKE’s O•Gii tea infused Wit, plus a mini keg of Christmas beer for extra cheer – we have just about everything you could ask for. So if you’re in Bay View (or you’re looking for an excuse to be) stop in for a cold one (or 6). And if not, then just admire the glory and pop the top on one of your own favorites.

Road Trip Guide: Milwaukee to Nashville

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Over Labor Day weekend we took a road trip to Nashville, TN and found some real gems along the way. And by gems I mean road side attractions, gifts shops, diners, neon signs, breweries, and general beautiful Americana. I don’t want to write about our vacation as much as the potential that a vacation like this holds. So here’s a guide in case you ever decide to make the trip.

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On the way down we stopped in Indianapolis to refuel…with beer. We found a brewery with a tasting room that was still open called Flat 12 Bierwerks. Apparently Indiana’s laws don’t allow kids past the lobby – the bouncer seemed confused when we walked up with a two year old in our arms but then she saw our ID’s and WI’s reputation preceded us – she understood. Anyway, the beer was just as good in the lobby and they sold “bullets” to go which was basically a plastic water bottle filled with beer. (Why don’t we have those here?)

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The gift shop at the Kentucky Museum. We didn’t actually visit the museum. We just heard there were a lot of white squirrels nearby and the gift shop came through with white squirrel souvenirs – we bought a small white squirrel candle. I also liked the ceramic KFC chicken bucket but didn’t even ask Tara if I could buy one of those.

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We waited an hour and a half for breakfast at the Loveless Cafe and generally that would have been unacceptable to me; but it was worth every minute for what might have been the best breakfast I’ve ever had. Yes that is a pile of pit smoked barbecue pork in between my eggs and grits. The biscuits and jelly were also amazing. On top of all that it had a great sign and a respectable gift shop. This must stop is on the outskirts of Nashville, TN.

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A Pink Elephant drinking a martini. Looking into the eye of the beast I shed a tear for his glory days of yore. (Across from Sad Sam’s off I-65 in TN)

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Nervous Charlies had a Gorilla, some good souvenirs, and some questionable ones. (Off I-65 in TN)

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A Giant Indian at Sad Sam’s off I-65 in TN.

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They just hang their ham out in the open down there which seemed weird but it smelled good…really.

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A re-creation of a giant prehistoric crocodile was just one of the reasons for stopping at Big Mike’s Rock Shop in Cave City, KY. The great selection of rocks, lots of souvenirs, and last but definitely not least a “Mystery House” where we defied physics made this place a highlight of the trip.

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Sharptooth! Or just your greeter to Dinosaur World in Cave City, KY. Unfortunately we didn’t get to visit due to rain.

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Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, KY. These cement wigwams are a motel, if that’s not as awesome to you as it is to me then my words will not do them justice. This is one of three remaining Wigwam Villages in the US (probably the world) and we had every intention of spending the night in one until a storm flooded our reserved unit and several others. Next time. (Read more about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigwam_Motel)

And as a side note, Cave City in general is definitely worth the stop. Obviously, they have a lot of caves, which are awesome in its own right, but they also have a bunch of touristy stuff that time has just passed by. It’s wonderful and a little sad, definitely worth a stop.

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Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, KY had a cool sign, brightly colored fiberglass animals outside, and the above pictured dish. They called it a sandwich (I think there was bread in there somewhere) – I called it tasty. For your own reference though, the service was poor and it smelled a little weird in there.

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A well placed stoplight downtown Louisville.

Conclusions:  These were just a few of the off-the-beaten path places we found. The more mainstream stops included a couple good breweries in Nashville (Jackalope was our favorite), lots of Bourbon in Kentucky (Heaven Hill had a nice tour and tasting), Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum (I think we saw Li’l Sebastian) , the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum (don’t let your two year old touch Mickey Mantle’s bat without gloves, also don’t grab it away from him without gloves), and plenty more that you’ll have no trouble finding.

My advice for your next vacation? Glad you asked. Drive somewhere, get off the freeway, stop at places that look like dumps (and then stop somewhere nice cause some really are dumps), buy souvenirs that are covered in dust, eat the local food, drink the local beer, and just go see America.

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(Souvenirs!)

 

2012 Wisconsin State Fair Round Up

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They say, “all’s fair in love and war” and this year our experience at the fair had both love and war. War with The Micro for denying us a keg kill despite our consumption of 440 ounces of beer (that’s 3.5 gallons!). Conspiracy? Insider trading? We may never know. More war with Cousins Subs for taking away Tara’s favorite food of the fair – deep fried Cheesesteak on a stick. With a whopping zero deep fried offerings Cousins failed fairgoers and it’s Wisconsin roots. We’re hoping a grassroots twiiter campaign will convince them to bring it back. Despite these fails, we still had plenty to love about one of our favorite times of year. Lot’s of good foods (including a couple new ones), plenty of MKE Brewing Co’s Cream Puff Ale, Herb’s Superb Milk (12 of ’em), and all round fun times reminded us why we look forward to that first week in August every year.

Here’s a couple more quick takes on other foods I tried this year:

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Pork Donut – Yep another meat and donut combo and another winner for me.

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Deep Fried Pizza on a Stick – This is the closest you’ll get to a Ponza Rotta this side of downtown Waukesha and that’s a good thing.

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Brewtons – Wonton wrapper filled with good stuff, deep fried and put on a stick. Worked.

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Deep Fried Brownie on a Stick – Kinda like a corn dog but if the hot dog was a gooey chocolate turd.

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Deep Fried Battered Bacon – You already know what I think about this.

Goodbye WI State Fair. See you in a year.

 

WI State Fair: I’m so excited…

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And I just can’t hide it. It’s almost that time of year again. Yes, Wisconsin State Fair time. With less than 9 days to go, the excitement is palpable. It’s like Christmas – but with less Jesus and more cheeses. And nothing gets me excited like the list of the new foods to be had. There are 57 of them this year but I’m just going to list the top 5 on my “must eat” list – in no particular order:

  1.  Deluxe Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Cheddar Hot Dog On-a-Stick:  This one has some depth – it takes a whole 11 words to describe it! It will take me just minutes to eat it.
  2. Sweet Chimi-Nutella (Banana, Nutella, Cinnamon, Pecans and Powdered Sugar wrapped in a Flour Tortilla) –The Mexican influenced Chimichanga and Italian origin Nutella combine for this multi-cultural treat! I’m calling this deep fried delight my heart healthy choice because it has cinnamon, fruit, and nuts.
  3. Cookie Dough Cone or Sundae (Layers of Cookie Dough, Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Soft Serve): There are three new cookie dough dishes on the list this year but this one stood out for adding the soft serve – a good call for this hot summer.
  4. Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Tots On-a-Stick: A hat trick! Deep fried (of course), bacon (still of course), and sweet potato. Finally, this trendy little root gets fairified!
  5. Pork Donut (Sugared Bismark Stuffed with BBQ Pork): I can see the people turning up their noses at this unholy marriage of meat and pastry. Not me. I can already taste these two flavors working together to tickle my taste buds.

There are plenty more that I want to try (and probably will). And as always, I’m looking forward to washing it all down with MKE Brewing Co’s Cream Puff Ale (quite possibly the best beer ever) and some of the new offerings from The Micro. Of course I’ll also be drinking plenty of good old Herb’s Superb Milk.

Stay tuned for all the food reviews and other fun at the fair because I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.

If Heaven Had a Gift Shop…

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It might be like the one at Best Place in the old Pabst Brewery. Or, if the song is right, and “in Heaven there is no beer, that’s why we drink it here,” then you better just visit this one while you can. In addition to the gift shop (and just as good or better) is the the Best Place bar and the tour you can take. We checked it all out Saturday and thought it was pretty awesome. Being that the original Pabst Brewery closed in 1996 (pour some of that tall boy out in remembrance) I never got to take a tour there. It sounded pretty sweet though – so to experience even just a little bit of that history in this new incarnation of the brewery was still fun. For me it was a great combination of Milwaukee, history, beer, and a gift shop full of new and old (found in the brewery) souvenirs. Oh yeah, and some guy playing a Lute singing the Police’s “Message in a Bottle” but with the words “PBR in a Bottle” – that was entertaining too.

You can check out all the details here for yourself: http://www.bestplacemilwaukee.com/

Wisconsin Beer Lover’s Festival

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As a lover of Wisconin beer and a Wisconsinite that loves beer, this festival was doubly awesome!

There was a great selection of Wisconsin Craft and Micro Brewers represented in the streets of Bayshore Town Center and they each had multiple brews for sampling.  I tried to keep track of everything we tasted and I was going to write some comments about each beer too, but they were all good and there was too much to drink to worry about that.  I also started neglecting to write down the exact name of the beer as the afternoon went on, but it should be close. So, here’s a list of what we had (and thanks to Tara being the designated driver this is mostly what I had):

Angry Minnow Last Notch, Big Bay Brewing Company Pale Ale and Boatilla, Bull Falls Brewery Lager and Weizen, Capital Brewery Hop Cream and Weizen, Central Waters IPA, Chameleon Brewing Company Witty, Fox River Brewing Co Abbey Normal and Maibock, Grumpy Troll Brewery Norwegian Wit, Lake Louie Brewing Mosquito Bite, Milwaukee Brewing Company Bock, Northwood Brewing Floppin’ Crappie Ale, O’so Brewing Picnic Ants and Hop Whoopin’, Pearl Street Brewery El Hefe and IPA, Potosi Brewing Company Steamboat Shandy, Silver Creek Brewing Vintage Ale, South Shore Brewery Honey Maibock and Red Lager, Point 2012 and Nude Beach, Stone Cellar Six Grain, Titletown Brewing Apricary and Johnny Blood Red, Vintage Brewing Co Spring Bock and Wit, and finally Woodman Brewery Red Ale and Coconut Wheat. 

My favorites included the Pearl’s El Hefe and South Shore’s Red – Tara really like their Honey Maibock too.

And as if all that tasty beer wasn’t enough, each brewery was paired with a restaurant and food sample! That was amazing in itself. The best was the Blackened Whitefish Sandwhich from South Shore Brewery – super tasty and probably worth a drive up to Ashland, WI.

(Thanks Tara for getting us tickets and making it a great Father’s Day weekend.)