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Baron's Brewing Prowess On Display

The Beer Barons would like to congratulate the following members on their recent competition wins.  Way to go! 

Gold Medal Bruce Buerger Gold Medal 21A Spice, Herb or Vegetable Beer 2014 Drunk Monk Challenge
Gold Medal Timothy Minger Gold Medal 10A American Pale Ale 2014 Midwinter Homebrew Competition
Gold Medal Matt Stever Gold Medal 12A Brown Porter 2014 Midwinter Homebrew Competition
Gold Medal
Josh Strupp
Co-Brewer: Dan Kramer
Gold Medal 12C Baltic Porter 2014 Midwinter Homebrew Competition
Silver Medal Matt Stever Silver Medal 2A German Pilsner 2014 Drunk Monk Challenge
Silver Medal Steve Patt Silver Medal 12C Baltic Porter 2014 Drunk Monk Challenge
Silver Medal Steve Patt Silver Medal 12C Baltic Porter 2014 Midwinter Homebrew Competition
Bronze Medal Matt Stever Bronze Medal 1E Dortmunder Export 2014 Drunk Monk Challenge
Bronze Medal David Skreczko Bronze Medal 17F Fruit Lambic 2014 Midwinter Homebrew Competition
Bronze Medal Matt Stever Bronze Medal 1D Munich Helles 2014 Midwinter Homebrew Competition
Bronze Medal Bruce Buerger Bronze Medal 28D Specialty Cider or Perry 2014 Midwinter Homebrew Competition
 honorable-mention David Skreczko Honorable Mention 27A Common Cider 2014 Midwinter Homebrew Competition

article header“Have you ever seen 12 Bigfoot in one place at one time?” Ask most people that question and you’d better be prepared for some strange looks and inquiries about if you’re feeling okay. But that’s exactly what you would’ve witnessed at the Beer Barons meeting this past January 22nd. You see, some dedicated Barons were able to capture 12 vintages of Sierra Nevada’s classic Bigfoot Barleywine for a vertical tasting of mythical proportions. 

The 10 Barons who participated in the tasting were able to sample annual releases from 1998 & 2000 and 2005 – 2014. Yes, that’s right, 12 years of Bigfoot dating back up to 16 years! The beers were provided by Barons Dan Schlosser (1998, 2000, 2007 & 2014), Mike Schwartz (2005) and Jayme Nawrocki (2006 & 2008 – 2013).









The tasters, several of which are BJCP judges, sampled the beers side-by-side:






Before we get into the beers let’s talk a bit about cellaring beer and the effects of aging.

First off not all beers age well, while others are suited for it. Pale Ales and IPAs with their fresh hop aromatics are not beers you should consider aging, as those fresh hop qualities we all love are some of the first things to drop out. Wheat beers are another style you should consume fresh and avoid cellaring. In general lower ABV sessionable beers are not candidates for aging. Beers that are high in alcohol, have a moderate amount of roasted grains, use a wild yeast, are barrel-aged, and are bottle conditioned are prime candidates for aging. Styles that age well are beers such as barleywines, imperial stouts, Belgian strong ales, lambics and old ales.
Aging affects the flavor of beer in a number of ways, the majority of which are formed by oxidation. One of the most common descriptors for oxidative flavors is wet cardboard. This off-flavor is classified as an aldehyde and has a very low flavor threshold: as little as 0.1 parts per billion.cellartips
Oxidation will also affect the color of beer, making it darker over time.
The aroma of many light-colored beers can be affected by oxidation. The malt character present in a fresh example may become honey-like over time.
Dark beers tend to react differently. As they age, sweet, sherry-like notes replace rich malt aromas. Many people welcome this, although it is much different from the original malty character of the fresh beer. These sherry characteristics result from the oxidation of malty-tasting chemicals called melanoidins.
Sherry-like flavor can add complexity to certain beer styles, like barleywine and dark Belgian ales. However this flavor would not be considered appropriate in lower alcohol beers and too much can make strong, dark beers seem singular and uninteresting.

Now back to the Bigfoot tasting.

One thing to note is that Sierra Nevada switched from twist-off caps to pry-offs in 2007. This is important, as twist-offs tend to allow more air ingress, which can increase, and speed the level of oxidation that occurs over time.

As we sampled the beers we attempted to zero-in on which beer was best, which was worst and what the peak range for the beers was.

When the beers were poured it was obvious right away that the 98' & 2000 vintages were quite a bit darker than the others, a sure sign of oxidation. Some of the comments on these were "chunky," and "sherry-like." The group quickly agreed that these 2 beers were well beyond their prime and should not be considered in our rankings.

In general the color lightened and the clarity improved as you moved from the older beers to the newer, with the 2014 being a bright, rich copper and clear.

It was interesting to compare the beers side-by-side and note the subtle and often times not so subtle differences. The hops became much more evident in the 2011 – 2014 and really dropped off in the beers prior to that. The malt character rounded out over time and the sherry notes increased in the older beers. The alcohol (Bigfoot is ~10% ABV) was generally less evident and blended in the 2005 – 2011 and more prominent and noticeable in the 2012 – 2014. Personally I noted a bit of a hot alcohol in the 2009, but nobody else seemed to pick up on this. A couple of the tasters felt that the 2008 was the best balanced of the group while another mentioned that the 2005 was harsh and had a menthol character. One taster also noted the 2011 as being harsh, but in my opinion that was the best of the bunch and seemed to be the best balanced. The dark horse of the group was 2005 with 3 second best votes, although it also received a worst and second worst vote. It just goes to show you that judging can be a bit subjective and dependent upon one's palate.

Overall this was a great experience and I'm thankful to have been included. If you have a little patience, you can put together your own vertical of some of your favorite big beers in the future. Happy cellaring!


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Baron's VP Wins Draft Magazine Contest

Barons Vice President Jayme Nawrocki put his knowledge of craft beer and US craft breweries to the test in Draft Magazines recent Great American Beer Fest (GABF) Draft Competition.  The object was to choose ten breweries you think will win beer competition medals at the 2013 GABF.  Whoever puts together the list that garners the most points wins a trip for two to Washington D.C. to attend SAVOR Craft Beer and Food Experience on May 9th and 10th in 2014.  For those of you that aren't familiar with Savor, it has become extremely popular and is a very difficult ticket to get, so this is truly an awesome prize and is sure to be an experience Jayme won't soon forget. Jayme's list (below) brought in 280 total points and made him the grand prize winner! Congratulations Jayme! All your fellow Barons are equal parts happy for you, proud of you, and jealous of you! 

Brewery Points
Firestone Walker Brewing Company: 70
Pizza Port Carlsbad: 0
Boulevard Brewing Company: 25
Pabst Brewing Company: 20
Sun King Brewing Company: 20
Sandlot: 45
Spoetzl Brewery: 0
Devils Backbone Brewing Company - Basecamp: 50
Troeegs Brewing Company: 25
Barley Brown's Brew Pub: 25
Total Points: 280

TapHandles2013 Picnic Review

It was a fantastic picnic as usual.  A fun time was had by all and we were able to enjoy some good food, good beer/mead/cider/soda and the commaraderie of our fellow club members.  Thanks to everyone who made it out and a special thanks to everyone that spent time organizing the event.



Joe SmokerSpeaking of food, this years event was made extra special because of Joe Keckeisen and his wonderful Smoker.  Joe smoked what seemed like a ton of chicken, pork shoulder and beef brisket.  Smoking all that meat is a lot of work and a big commitment of time.  As Barons we should all feel lucky that Joe volunteered his time in putting this together for us.  Thank you Joe, your efforts do not go unappreciated!



DSC 0431The Beer Barons would like to congratulate David Hardeman Mash Paddlewho ran away with top honors in both the Beer and Food categories this year.  David brewed a delicious IPA and made some awesome Stout Meatballs in dominating this years competition.  Way to go David and congratulations from all your fellow Barons!  Dave will now get his name forever etched along with other past winners on the Jerry Hetzel Memorial Mash Paddle.  Congratulations David!! 

Here's to looking forward to next year.  May we have better weather and an even larger turnout.

Baron Bob Manke AHA Featured 'Brewer Of The Week'

The Beer Barons own Bob Manke is the American Homebrewers Association's featured 'Brewer of the Week.'  Check Bob out online at the AHA Website here.  Congratulations Bob.  We always suspected you had something against Wee Heavy!!

Siebel Logo copyFirst Barons HomebrewKen Megal Scholarship Recipient To Attend Siebel Institute

Ken Megal the proud recipient of the first ever Beer Barons Homebrewing Scholarship is set to attend the Advanced Homebrewing course this summer at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois.  Ken, a Baron since 2009, has served as an officer the past 2 years and was selected from a number of applicants by the Board earlier in the year. The Advanced Homebrewing course covers a variety of topics from the brewing process to sensory evaluation to recipe design and more.  The course is scheduled from July 22 - July 26 and is facilitated by craft brewing gurus Randy Mosher, Ray Daniels, Chris White and Chris Graham.  The Barons would like to congratulate Ken and wish him the best as he furthers his brewing knowledge and skills through this unique opportunity.  We encourage other members to get their applications ready for the 2014 award. Cheers!



AIGA Wisconsin and the Beer Barons Host Homebrew and Label Competition


AIGA Wisconsin and the Beer Barons of Milwaukee hosted our first ever Home Brewed beer & label competition on Thursday, June 13th at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery. All Wisconsin homebrewers, designers, illustrators, creatives and community members were invited to pair up in teams to create custom craft beer and labels to be entered into the competition. A panel of celebrity judges, including author, designer and homebrewer Randy Mosher, then chose best beer-label coupling based on pairing, creativity and presentation.

Congratulations to the winning team of Steve Parkhill (Beer) and Brett Tomczak (Design) for their winning Road Work Saison collaboration.  Click here to see all of the submissions.

Road Work Saison

Bruce NHCBruce Buerger Presents at 2013 Homebrewers Conference

The Beer Barons very own Bruce Buerger presented at the National Homebrewers Conference on Friday, June 28 in Philadelphia.  Bruce's presentation on 'How  to Improve Club Events and Empower New Leaders' was very well attended and well received judging by  the  crowd's response. Several Barons were in attendance and we can report that Bruce knocked it out of the park and represented our club well. Attendees found the session very informative and asked a lot of good questions.  Great job Bruce!

WoB-10thAnniversary-3C-RGB-xtrasmall10th Annual World of Beer Festival

The 10th anniversary of the world of beer festival has come and gone, but won't be quickly forgotten. From all accounts it appears to have been a huge success. We increased the size of the festival and sold out in advance. To make more room, we added a tent for the VIB area which worked out very nicely with great feedback from the attendees. With the increase in ticket sales, we were able to add more breweries and beers this year topping 287 beers, meads, and ciders. In addition, we had 20 brewers representing 20 breweries and brewpubs as well as 12 sales reps representing 23 brands and 5 staff from meaderies and cideries. That also topped all previous efforts.

The patio was filled with homebrewers. We had 6 homebrew clubs from around the region spanning Chicago to Mequon as well is 4 up-and-coming breweries or meaderies that are still in the licensing process and 2 homebrew shops. Brew and Grow of Waukesha raffled off a 15 gallon stainless steel brew pot to one lucky homebrewer.

We expanded the shuttle bus program to include 7 buses with capacity for 280 people and 9 pickup locations. We ended up with almost 200 people riding the shuttle buses and we reached our goal of breaking even.

The volunteer staff excelled as always. The Schwabenhof had an incredible food service including roasted suckling pigs, roast chickens, homemade Hungarian sausages, rollbraten and more.

Consensus among the festival Managers is that we reached the capacity for the facility as it exists. If our expectations on income vs expenses hold out, we will have made enough money to fully fund the scholarships that we want and really don't have any need to expand further at this time. This is great news because it means that for the managers, the festival can only get easier!

We hope all the Beer Barons are proud of the World of Beer Festival and the accomplishments that we've made with it. We've had more than one attendee say this is the 2nd best beer festival in Wisconsin only exceeded by the Great Taste which, I'll add, is in a whole other league.  If you've never been to the festival, you really need to check it out. We're always looking for volunteers to help serve beer and perform some of the other tasks that need doing during the festival.

Cheers and we look forward to seeing you all at the 2014 World of Beer, Saturday June 7, 2014. Be sure to mark your calendars now!


Brian Joas earns Grand Master BJCP ranking

The Beer Barons would like congratulate Brian Joas on attaining the rank of Grand Master BJCP judge.  Brian not only is the first Baron to attain the Grand Master ranking, but he is the first in the entire state of Wisconsin!

Brian first took the BJCP exam 4 years ago. Shortly after passing the exam he became very active in the Barons BJCP Training Program and quickly took on a lead role.  After achieving a National status he began working on his Grand Master Service Requirement (GMSR) by becoming an exam grader. Within a few sets of exams the BJCP board unanimously voted him in as an Associate Exam Director.  Brian first achieved Master status in mid-September 2012 and acquired the necessary GMSR credit to achieve Grand Master status within 6 months. Along the way he has played a key role in developing the Midwinter and German Fest Stein Challenge Competitions, served as the Judge Director for the NHC First Round and Schooner Homebrew Competitions, and received his Mead Judge Endorsement.

This is quite an accomplishment and the Barons are both proud and fortunate to have Brian as a member.  Congratulations Brian!

Support Your Local Brewery

Support Your Local Brewery

Support Your Local Brewery is a national, grassroots partnership of beer enthusiasts, professional trade associations and brewers dedicated to supporting and protecting the legislative and regulatory interests of small, traditional and independent craft breweries. This is run by the Brewers Association & AHA.

Sign up today! Click here to go to their web site.

2014 Midwinter


Upcoming Events


04.23.2014 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
April General Meeting


National Homebrew Day


05.07.2014 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Board Meeting & Social Hour


05.18.2014 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Chilton Beer Fest

2013 World Of Beer


2013 German Fest Stein Challenge


2013 Delafield Brewhaus Schnapp Hans Cup