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Wisconsin beer and breweries: News and reviews
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Fourteen beers for 2014 from Madison and southern Wisconsin breweries
Local beers not to miss in the coming year
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With the increasing number of one-off and one-time-only brews being made locally, beer lovers need to pay close attention so as not to miss them.

Here's a handy guide; mark your calendars.


1. Jobu from Capital Brewery
This beer should be available in late January. Brewmaster Brian Destree made this molasses brown ale last may and has been aging it in Jamaican rum barrels since June. Its name is a reference from the 1989 movie Major League, in which a voodoo-practicing baseball player keeps a small effigy of "Jobu" in his locker, to which he makes sacrifices of rum.

2. Imperial Pilsner from the Great Dane
Made with all-German malts and German Hallertauer whole-leaf hops, this beer will likely appear on more than one of the Great Dane beer menus, though which has not yet been set. Great Dane co-owner and bremaster Rob LoBreglio calls it the barleywine of pilsners. It's expected in mid- to late January.

3. Beyond Braggot from Sprecher Brewery
A braggot is a mead made with both honey and malt; it often has lots of body and a smooth texture, with sweetness and warmth. Sprecher's is made with Wisconsin honey and has plenty of strength at 11% ABV. It's being sold in 12-ounce bottles, and will be a great one to age for several years. Beyond should be out in late January or early February.

4. A special version of Jinja Ninja from Vintage Brewing Company
This batch of spelt-based ginger-spiced beer will be aged for about eight months in a Cabernet barrel. Spelt, a grain similar to wheat, has a deep nutty flavor. The Cabernet barrel-aging is a fun twist that should lend sweeter fruitiness to complement the ginger. A release date hasn't been set.

5. Johnson Double India Pale Ale from Lakefront Brewery
This hoppy beer, part of the "My Turn" employee-inspired brew series from Lakefront, is named for Chris Johnson, who handles the brewery's marketing efforts. It's made with five different hops, including Mosaic, Galaxy and Citra, that combine for distinctive tropical bitterness. It’s expected to finish around 8% ABV and be released by early March. The beer is also Lakefront's first Double IPA. Its release marks a change in packaging for the My Turn brews. In the past, they've been sold in bombers; however, Johnson will be offered in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles.

6. Russian Imperial Stout from House of Brews
Owner and brewmaster Page Buchanan has been working on a recipe for this rich imperial stout that he hopes to have ready in early 2014. Could it become a local alternative to Guinness for St. Patrick's Day?

7. Maibock from Next Door Brewing
Brewmaster Keith Symonds celebrates his birthday in May, and what else should we expect but a maibock (as in "my-bock") on tap at Next Door?

8. IPA from Port Huron Brewing
Tanner Brethorst is planning to offer an IPA this summer at his popular Wisconsin Dells brewery. He is building a small pilot brewing system within his brewery that he'll use to fine-tune the recipe, as well as other new releases that will follow.

9. Emperor Penguin from One Barrel Brewing
Emperor is a hopped-up version of the pub's standard Penguin pale ale. Brewer Dan Sherman will tweak the recipe by using all-Mosaic hops, which offer a range of tropical, citrus and piney bitter layers. And it will boast a new-and-improved 53 IBUs. This beer is expected to make regular appearances throughout 2014.

10. Tangerine IPA from Potosi Brewing Company
This IPA is infused with tangerine juice, which adds an assertive tropical-citrus character to the piney bitterness of the Columbus hops at its core. Brewmaster Steve Buszka is working on a recipe that will stand up to pasteurization and bottling. (Potosi's bottled beers are produced at the Stevens Point Brewery, where pasteurization is standard.) 2014 could be the year this beer appears in four-packs, or seek it out at specialty taps around town. Tangerine IPA is a good excuse to visit the brewpub in Potosi. Just call ahead to make sure it's on tap before making the trip.

11. Common Funk from the Grumpy Troll Restaurant and Brewery and Sweet Mullets Brewing Company
Brewmaster Mark Knoebl of the Grumpy Troll is collaborating with Mark Duchow of Sweet Mullets on this one. "We put it in a barrel, added some wild yeast, and then let it fester," says Knoebl of this saison. It's inspired by the 2013 edition of Common Thread, the collaborative brew made annually for Madison Craft Beer Week. No release date has been set.

12. A saison from Wisconsin Brewing Company
Brewmaster Kirby Nelson has been looking forward to tinkering with his small pilot brewing system. One of the beers he's said he'd like to make is a saison. Watch the brewery's Facebook page for announcements.

13. A yet-to-be-named Beer Camp collaboration between Sierra Nevada and New Glarus Brewing Company
In December, New Glarus brewmaster Dan Carey traveled to Chico, California, to make a test batch based on an English Bitter. Later this spring, Carey will return to join brewers from 12 breweries to create a variety 12-pack for summer release.

14. Oaktober Ale from Karben4 Brewing Company
This was my favorite beer of 2013, so why wouldn't I want to see it again come fall 2014? This seasonal brew from brewmaster Ryan Koga has inviting biscuit and caramel flavor and is fermented with oak chips that lend a smooth woody background. Watch for it come September.

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