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Wisconsin beer and breweries: News and reviews
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Beer Here: Louie's Demise from Milwaukee Brewing
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Credit:Robin Shepard

Last fall, the Milwaukee Brewing Company started distributing its three primary beers in Madison. Milwaukee Brewing is composed of a production brewery and brewpub in Grafton, along with the well-known Milwaukee Ale House in the city's historic Third Ward. Its flagship is a red ale named Louie's Demise.


What is it? Louie's Demise from the Milwaukee Brewing Company.

Style: Louie's Demise doesn't fit cleanly into a single style, but it most closely resembles an English brown or red ale. These beers range from deep reddish-copper to brown in color, and are medium-bodied, with an emphasis on maltiness. There is some bitterness to provide balance, but the hoppiness is generally mild in flavor and aroma. The malty tones may have some roasted or toffee aspect in both flavor and aroma. These beers commonly range from 4% to 5.5 % in alcohol content.

Background: Louie's Demise is the beer that helped start it all for brothers Jim and John McCabe, the owners of Milwaukee Brewing Company. It is based on an original homebrewing recipe they developed in the early 1990s. This brew has an amber color and great balance, with noticeable hop character from Tettnanger and Perle hops. It's made with special honey malt, which gives it a soft roasted and light nutty background. The beer finishes around 5.2% ABV and sells for around $8.50/six-pack.

Louie's Demise gets its name from the brothers' great-great-uncle Louie of Sheboygan. An old family photo that showed a group of stoic men holding dimpled mugs of beer hung in their kitchen and encouraged a toast just about any time homebrewing occurred. When the McCabes decided to take their most popular beer to a commercial scale, they went looking for a name, and turned to the photo for inspiration. They discovered that the men in the photo were actually attending their Uncle Louie's wake back in 1886. Come to find out, Uncle Louie had died in a bar fight -- bludgeoned with a beer glass in a dispute over a woman. Hence, Louie's Demise.

Milwaukee Brewing also has a series of seasonal beers called "Timed Releases." Watch for a Dunkel Weiss to appear around Madison over the first week of March. Jim McCabe teamed up with Briess Malting of Chilton to try out a new specialty malt in this beer, which he says gives it the fruity sweetness of a chocolate banana.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Light, but a firm malty nose.
  • Appearance: Reddish-copper color and a marbled, soft, tan head.
  • Texture: Medium-bodied and soft.
  • Taste: Solid, smooth caramel maltiness.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Malty, but overall clean.

Glassware: Louie's Demise is a beer with lots of malt flavor, and deserves a heavy, sturdy glass mug, preferably with dimples to show off its brilliant copper hues.

Pairs well with: The assertive sweet caramel tones go well with warm comfort foods, roasted meats and long-simmered stews. It is also a great beer for freshly baked bread.

Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).

The Consensus: B (good) at Beer Advocate and a 67 at Rate Beer.

The Verdict: Louie's Demise is a versatile meal beer that has the ability to pair with most meat dishes, burgers and sandwiches. It offers enough maltiness to complement a wide range of foods, without overshadowing subtle flavors, nor giving ground to a modest amount of spice or seasoning. Its distinctive firm flavor makes it an all-around good beer to have on hand in the refrigerator. One also has to appreciate the great story behind it. Cheers to Uncle Louie.

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