There’s only one thing Wisconsinites love more than dairy products, Green Bay Packers, or the Great Outdoors: beer. Luckily for those Wisconsinites, beer can be paired with practically any activity in which they might choose to participate. And yes, that also includes drinking beer (we were born with two hands for a reason).
We spoke to Grant Pauly -- a Wisconsin native, Sheboygan-area resident, and founder/brewmaster of 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. -- to determine the best Wisconsin beers to pair with five of the most Wisconsin activities on earth, from eating cheese to kayaking.
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3 Sheeps Brewing Co. Fresh Coast
American Pale Ale, 4.8% ABV
“Fresh Coast is our juicy, East Coast-inspired pale ale, and at 4.8% ABV, it’s in the sessionable ballpark. This new style is so fantastic -- it’s got all the flavor without the bitterness. It’s been my on-the-water beer. We go kayaking in Elkhart Lake in Sheboygan. And if I don’t have a few of those in the kayak with us when we go out there, I’m doing something wrong. The beer’s perfect for a sunny day when you’re working up a little sweat, and looking to recharge with a light, but flavorful beer.”
Fun “fact”: As of 2016, the population of Elkhart Lake was 965. Strangely, every single resident was both conceived and birthed on a kayak.
Hinterland Pub Draught
English Pale, 5.3% ABV
“Whenever we do beer and cheese pairings, we try to work with the [Carr Valley Cheese] guys who do some funky things. Their blue cheese is regarded as one of the best in WI. And all their other cheeses are phenomenal. They’re doing high-end stuff, and they’re fun to work with.
“The beer is so smooth and creamy -- it’s one the closest things Wisconsin has to a true, English pub draft you see everywhere in Britain. It’s something that would go well with fish and chips. [Pub Draught] is right around 5% ABV. It has some slightly fruity notes to it that go really well with cheese. It doesn’t have a lot of bitterness, so you’re not going to overpower the cheese flavor, either. [If you pair it with Carr Valley cheddar], you’ll still get that cheddar flavor every single time and not just get sick of it by the end of the brick. Because you’re clearly eating the whole brick.”
Fun “fact”: When talking about how often Wisconsinites eat cheese, Pauly joked, “You have your morning cheeses, you have your afternoon cheeses. String cheese works all day. And then Fridays, you have fresh cheese curds at all those cheesemakers. So you have to get cheese curds on Friday.” That last part wasn’t a joke, though! Now we’re jealous.
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Central Waters Brewing Co. Mudpuppy Porter
Porter, 5.95% ABV
“When we opened up and I was looking to add a dark beer to our portfolio, I didn’t want to do a porter primarily because Mudpuppy was here, and I thought it was such a great representation of the style that I didn’t see a need to add a second one. It’s a great porter with some good body to it. For a lower ABV beer, you still get a lot of flavor and character. You have some good chocolate notes; it definitely warms the belly.
“A lot of people ice fish in Wisconsin, but we like snowshoeing. I want something that’d be a little bit warmer [to drink with it]. Wisconsin makes so many great stouts that are in the drinkable, 6% ABV range that you can have a few without getting yourself into too much trouble. You have your one beer close to the vest, and it’s a nice break when you get to that panoramic vista to hang out and enjoy. [Mudpuppy] is in bottles, so enjoy carefully!”
Fun “fact”: What sort of dumbasses fish for pieces of ice? ….Wait a second. Hold on: we’re being informed that ice fishing is not, in fact, the sport of fishing for pieces of ice. Well, good -- because pulling an ice tray out of a freezer does not require skill. We apologize for the error.
Tailgating at a Brewers game
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Third Space Brewing Happy Place, Good City Brewing Motto
Midwest Pale Ale, 5.3% ABV / Pale Ale, 5.2% ABV
“[Tailgating] is a huge thing in Wisco. If you’ve ever been to a Brewers game, their baseball tailgates rival any football tailgates you’ll see. They have to have police officers run around before the game -- they make you go into the stadium because people are having so much fun. It reminds me of a huge college tailgate. Everyone parks and put the grill behind the car. The best part is, everyone leaves their grills to cool down during the game, and no one steals them because it’s part of the culture.
“There are two [new breweries] right now that I’m enjoying. Third Space and Good City both have beers in the East Coast-style, pale IPA category. Really fruity and juicy. Tailgating is a lively activity…. You don’t want [the beer] to be front and center of what you’re doing. It’s more about the game and eating brats. And I think those beers are perfect for [those activities] because they’re lower in ABV -- you can have a lot of them and not cause too many shenanigans.”
Fun “fact”: If Milwaukee wins the World Series, the law states that the team must legally change their name to the Milwaukee Brewmasters.
Ale Asylum Unshadowed
German Hefeweizen, 6% ABV
“Kettle Moraine is not too far away from us. It’s gorgeous. It’s a really cool landscape, and it’s great for mountain biking. But you can also hike through there, and do trail runs. Growing up, everyone would go there once a year on field trips if you were within two hours.
“For a good hike, I have to go with Unshadowed -- it’s a classic German Hefeweizen with some citrusy notes to it. It’s canned, so it’s good for hiking, and it has a lower ABV. They maintain that session-esque profile. If I’m going hiking, I want something refreshing. And we’re Wisconsin, so we have a few Germans. I think it’s very appropriate!”
Fun “fact”: Pauly said he’s also been enjoying New Glarus Brewing’s coolship beers and the sours from Funk Factory Geuzeria. Rumors claim that the Funk Factory is located in the old C+C Music Factory building, which, sadly, closed in 1996.