My Ten Favorite Beers

Hey, folks, it’s Sunday. So, let’s lay off the serious stuff for a day and think about beer. Well, it’s Wisconsin, so maybe this is serious stuff.

Anyway, I was inspired this morning to think about my favorite beers by a column by the Wisconsin State Journal’s “Beer Baron,” Chris Drosner. Drosner’s been writing his column for ten years, so he celebrated with a look back at his favorite beers. This man makes his living drinking beer, so his writing is filled with references to “notes” of flavor. He tastes tangerine and melon. He can go on at length about yeast and hops.

Me? I like a cold one now and then. So, without knowing a damn thing about what I’m writing about (yeah, this is just another blog for me) here are my ten favorite beers.

1. Satin Solitude. I love everything that Central Waters brews, but this is my favorite. The smooth imperial stout is perfect for a winter’s night in front of a fire.

2. Abbey Tripel. I once got paired with a guy on a golf course in Rhinelander. It wasn’t until the 8th hole that I asked him what he did. Turns out he was the brewmaster at Sprecher. I shook his hand. I almost asked for his autograph. I teared up. I wanted to say, “Do you know how much your work has meant to me?” Anyway, I was surprised to learn that Abbey Tripel is their best seller. This take-no-prisoners Belgian (which is odd since the Belgians were usually the ones being taken prisoner) is in my winter rotation with Solitude.

3. Black Bavarian. Another one from Sprecher, this one got knocked from my dark beer top spot by Solitude, but it’s still a sentimental favorite. For years it was my go-to beer at deer camp.

4. Corona and Labatt’s Blue. I’ve hosted more than one summer party where I filled a cooler with these light beers from Mexico and Canada and called them my NAFTA beers. Since the treaty was signed in the early 1990’s, the joke has sort of worn thin (as has the agreement), but I still like the beer.

Potosi: It’s not just a beer, it’s a story and it’s a place.

5. Hopalicious. I’m embarrassed to admit that this is the only Madison beer on my list. But what can I say? This one from Ale Asylum just makes me hoppy.

6. PBR, Miller High Life, Budweiser, Hamm’s, Schlitz, Point. Blindfold me and line these beers up. Can I tell them apart? No, I cannot. But let me try again. Nope. Give me another chance. Huh. One more time. On the golf course on a hot summer afternoon there’s nothing better than a mid-century, industrial beer. It doesn’t matter which one. You can just taste the Cold War. It’s like Ike is right there in the cart with you.

7. Lakefront Maibock. I never much appreciated maibocks until I tried this one from the Milwaukee micro brewery. Smooth and tasty.

8. Potosi Oktoberfest. One Oktoberfest tastes pretty much like another one to me. I don’t love the stuff, but it’s a rite of autumn, like covering the bushes and putting away the porch furniture. I pick Potosi because the brewery is such a great story. This little village tucked into the far lower left corner of Wisconsin is home to the National Brewery Museum. The community rallied around the abandoned ruins of the beautiful cream city brick brewery that once made the beer that bore its name. Now, the building and the beer are back, combined with the museum. It’s all a successful nonprofit where the proceeds are reinvested right there in the community. It’s a lot of nice stuff in one bottle.

9. Zywiec Lager. This beer and I are both Polish imports. It’s a deep amber color and has a unique taste that comes with East European beers. In my Milwaukee youth, the cool, wrong side of the Iron Curtain beer was Bip, from Serbia. Zywiec tastes a lot like Bip, which to most people is a little like saying, “You know where Colby is, right? It’s right next to Thorp.”

10. Kronenbourg 1664. It’s just a tasty, crisp lager. But I enjoyed one sitting in a little outdoor cafe in Paris with a small bowl of pretzels that the waiter kept refilling. I was waiting for my wife to come out of a shop. It was a rare moment where I wanted her to just keep shopping. She did. I ordered another. There were more pretzels. It was a sunny day in Paris. I drink it now back here with an empty bowl, hoping for pretzels.

Well, that’s my list. What did I leave out? What on my list is swill? I will approve all comments as they come in, except any praise for Spotted Cow. That is swill.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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