Well, I jumped into the Wisconsin Book Festival mouth first by attending the We Make Beer: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of American’s Craft Brewers reading at the Great Dane. Obviously, I had to drink a beer while listening to the presenters: a tall glass of Crop Circle Wheat served with a lemon wedge, thank you very much.
As it turned out, drinking the beer was much easier than hearing what the author and his fellow brewers had to say. The Great Dane’s pool hall on a Friday evening is pretty raucous, so, even straining, I could barely hear anything being said. I missed half of what Sean Lewis read from his book (what I did hear sounded very intriguing nonetheless!), though it was a little easier to hear the presenters afterward. There were four brewers in total, including the author and Rob LoBreglio, one of the owners of the Great Dane. In large part because I haven’t met that many – or even any – I never knew that brewers were so funny. Their anecdotes, especially those about how they got into brewing and their not-always-favorable opinions of BeerAdvocate, had me laughing into my Crop Circle.
Some interesting facts I learned from Sean and the other brewers: when Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was first created 30-some years ago, it was the hoppiest thing around. Now it barely rates as hoppy. And though craft beers only accounts for 8% of the market, craft brewing has finally come into its own and can now be found on at least one tap in every hole-in-the-wall dive (in case you hadn’t noticed). And last, craft brewers agree – or least these ones did: you can over-do the hops. So stop while you’re ahead, hops-obsessed brewers.