Notes From the First Door County Beer Festival

The first Door County Beer Festival is in the books! Over 1,100 people turned out to sample fantastic beer and food, soak in the music, and learn more about brewing, local agriculture, and Wisconsin cheese from our great vendors and presenters.

Organizers John McMahon and Dave Eliot did a fantastic job putting this event together, and a bevy of tireless volunteers helped us pull it off, but it’s the quality of the people and conversation that made it such a wonderful day at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall Park. As I wandered the grounds I learned a ton about beer from the servers and other beer lovers at an event unlike any Door County has seen before.

Here were some of the highlights of my day wandering the grounds:

• Capital Brewery‘s bourbon barrel aged Imperial Dopplebock. At least I think that’s what it was. If you missed a chance to sample from this pony keg you missed one of the most buzz-worthy beers of the festival. Egg Harbor jewelry maker Angela Lensch described it best when she said it was “like an old fashioned in a beer.”

• Kyle Cherek and the folks from Wisconsin Foodie embracing the event and Door County. Cherek was on board and believed in this event from the very start. The Wisconsin Foodie crew spent three days on the peninsula taking in sights, restaurants, and talking to the people that make this such a great destination. We can’t wait to see the footage they came away with.

• The Creme Brulee Stout from Southern Tier had people talking in the tent. Sweet, but not as sweet as you might expect, the New York Brewery made an impact on a partisan Wisconsin crowd. The 2x Stout was tasty as well.

• Rush River. The Uber Alt German ale brought tasters back time and time again. “This is great!” I said to Robbie Stair as he continued to field endless requests. “Well, we didn’t come all the way up here to bring you crap beer,” he deadpanned in response. He wasn’t laughing. Gotta respect that.

• Alterra‘s free pour-over coffee. Great tasting and strong like bull, this hit the spot for me in mid-morning when four hours of Ride for Nature set-up and beer festival running had me dragging.

• Catching up with Carol Skare and her daughters Courtney and Karin from The Cookery.

For over 30 years The Cookery has been supporting local producers, but Carol said it was only after a fire shut the restaurant down for a year in 2007 that they had the time to re-evaluate their supply chain. Today their deliveries come much less often from a semi, and more often from the trucks and cars of local growers and farmers. While it’s still difficult to source as much as they would like on the peninsula, Carol says the local production scene it has come a long way in just the last five years.

• Chatting with home brewers, brewery reps, and folks like Brad from Stillmank Beer Company, just getting his product launched. The crowd at the festival was passionate about their beer, eager to learn, and more eager to share.

There was a lot more to love, and we certainly have a lot that we can improve on, but we couldn’t be happier with the crowd that made year one so great. Please chime in on our Facebook page or email info@doorcountybeer with your own thoughts on the festival. We’d love to hear from you!

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