Mark Cook and Jim Jorgenson started Bent Kettle Brewing in May 2015. Two weeks ago they opened their downtown Fort Atkinson taproom at 10 S. Water St. in an 1886 building on the south bank of the Rock River. The taproom has eight to 10 beers on tap, including brewery favorites Insolence IIPA and the smoked IPA Thwack. The taproom is also an outlet for some of Cook’s more limited beers, which he still makes on a 20-gallon homebrew system. As of last weekend, among those small-batch treats were his brandy barrel-aged Belgian dubbel called Occam’s Razor and a trial batch of the IIPA called Velvet Lips. The taproom is open 5-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sundays.
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
The Hop Haus produced just 350 barrels of beer last year in its Verona brewpub; this year, brewery owner Phil Hoechst is taking a big leap, launching three of his best-selling beers in bottles and kegs. Plaid Panther Scotch Ale, Magic Dragon Double IPA and El Andy IPA are being released next week in six-packs, followed by keg releases for local taverns. Octopi Brewing in Waunakee is helping with the brewing and packaging.
Hoechst hopes the agreement with Octopi will take some of the pressure off and allow him time to experiment with making other beers and one-off batches: “We’re going to brew experimental things, and I have a few IPAs we want to try out.” Watch the brewery’s Twitter for additional details on special-release parties around Madison.
Grant Johnston, brewmaster at Lucky's 1313.
Beer to watch for: 5th Quarter Porter
Veteran brewer Grant Johnston is now crafting beers at the new Lucky’s 1313 at 1313 Regent St. Johnston has brewed professionally for more than 30 years, with stops from California to England. One of his first house beers is 5th Quarter Porter, a solid take on the style, made with a combination of English and American malts and hopped for balance with U.S.-grown Centennial. “You should be able to distinguish the malts and hops, but striking a balance is the goal,” Johnston says. He is also currently offering a malty red ale (1313 Big Red) and a mildly hopped pale (Hoppy Go Lucky).
This is a very pleasant porter, with smooth chocolate and caramel maltiness that contributes sweetness. The Centennial hops and their piney bitterness remain in the background. It finishes with a hint of toffee, while remaining clean. This is the way a porter should be, flavorful and inviting.
5th Quarter Porter finishes at 5.8 percent ABV. It sells for $5/pint.
More beers to watch for:
If you see these limited beers, don’t hesitate, just grab them. Wisconsin Dells Brewing is out
with the first in its series of barrel-aged beers sold in black wax-sealed bomber bottles. The label for its bourbon barrel-aged Scotch Ale says it was aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels for 18 months; however, brewmaster Jamie Baertsch says it was actually at least 24 months, because she got busy and forgot about it. As of last weekend, Trixie’s Liquor still had a few bottles.
Madison’s Alt Brew released a bourbon barrel-aged imperial brown ale in commemorative brown ceramic resealable bottles. Brewmaster Trevor Easton offered just 200 bottles that were sold mostly through reservations. You’ll likely have to do some serious bartering to get one of these, if you know of someone fortunate enough to have scored a bottle of this brew.