The great thing about being a beer enthusiast in Madison is the variety of local choices we have from so many talented brewers. If their expertise is put to good use, as it was in 2009, get ready for a spectacular 2010. Here are 10 wishes that I hope come true for Madison in the new year.
1. I wish my eight bottles of Barbara will hold out at least until the next major snowstorm. Brewmaster Kirby Nelson named this wonderfully rich and warm Imperial Doppelbock after his wife. The beer appeared for the first time in bottles as a winter seasonal in the Middleton brewery's Capital Square 4-pack series. Joining that line of speciality brews later in the year will be Weizen Doppelbock. And, come April, Kirby's Supper Club hits the streets in six-packs and 12-pack cans.
2. This year, the Great Dane should be unleashing a monster beer that's quietly been fermenting for over a year. Last winter Great Dane brewmaster Rob LoBreglio and Capital Brewery's Kirby Nelson joined forces in an attempt to exceed the boundaries for the biggest, highest-alcohol beer made following the German Purity Law of 1516, which says beer should only be made from water, barley, hops and yeast. No name for the beer yet, but I'm wishing for some in a limited commemorative 22-ounce bottle -- whatever it gets called!
3. Madison's soon-to-be newest beer venue, Sprecher's Restaurant & Pub (1262 John Q. Hammons Drive, Middleton) is scheduled to open Jan. 18. The pub isn't directly affiliated with the Sprecher Brewery of Glendale but was given rights by brewery owner Randy Sprecher to use his name and sell his beer.
4. Vintage Brewing hopes to open in early 2010 in the former JT Whitney's location (674 S. Whitney Way). Let's all wish for Vintage to succeed. Whitney's closed in March. New owner Trent Kramer is originally from Spring Green and has plans to stress local ingredients in the menu. Kramer also runs Vintage Spirits & Grill (629 University Ave.).
5. Ale Asylum brewmaster Dean Coffey and partner Otto Dilba are hinting that they're planning at least one new brew. They won't say what it is, only that they plan to do some small introductory batches for the taproom before putting it into bottles. I'm wishing for another one of Coffey's special Belgian beers.
6. I wish Central Waters Brewing up in Amherst continued success as it celebrates its 12th anniversary Jan. 30. Brewery president Paul Graham says they are doing some small-batch experiments with wine barrels and sour beers. Graham says he's still formulating recipes, but he'll have something new, and likely tart, in 2010.
7. More great beers from New Glarus Brewing. Among its lineup is a pale ale called Moon Man that'll be out in March. Dan Carey is also planning a honey bock called Cabin Fever for stores this month. Come fall, watch for Back Forty Bock, a traditional Wisconsin bock. In the New Glarus R&D Series, there are whispers of a fermenting Belgian lambic style beer.
8. More brewmaster dinners at Mount Horeb's Grumpy Troll. In January 2009, brewmaster Mark Duchow followed a medieval theme by serving a Stein (Stone) beer made by dropping hot rocks into the wort and caramelizing the sugars to create a unique flavor in the beer. The accompanying meal featured lamb chops and leg of fowl (turkey drum stick). Duchow hasn't set dates, but he does confirm at least one brewmaster's dinner for 2010.
9. More Wisconsin-made, buy-local initiatives from the state's brewers. The use of locally grown hops was a trend last fall in several wet-hopped brews, so expect more in the year ahead. Lakefront Brewing of Milwaukee just released Local Acre, a beer made with all-Wisconsin hops and barley. Sand Creek Brewing of Black River Falls also hopes to bring its One Planet Ale to Madison in bottles in 2010. One Planet is made from nearly all Wisconsin ingredients, including honey harvested from hives on a farm on Madison's west side.
10. My final wish is for more beers in 22-ounce bomber/picnic bottles. Ideal for two people, the big bottles make meal planning and trying new beers easier than purchasing an entire six-pack. To be specific: I would like to see Tyranena's Spank Me Baby Barley Wine in a wine-sized bottle. Brewmaster Rob Larson often provides it on tap at the brewery's annual New Year's Eve party, but I want to take some home. Now that would be something to look forward to in 2010.