If you are a fan of Lake Louie Brewing, you'll notice a few changes in the Arena-based brewery's line-up of beers this summer. Owner and brewmaster Tom Porter is refocusing his brands and adding a handful of new brews that will soon be on shelves in southern Wisconsin.
Porter is hoping that by adding new brews and re-imaging their packaging he'll continue to see growth in Lake Louie's share in an increasingly crowded craft beer market. In 2013, Lake Louie produced about 6,000 barrels of beer. Porter says he's prepared to jump to 8,000 barrels this year if demand is there.
"There are a lot more people in the consumer beer market that weren't there five years ago, and there are so many new beers coming on store shelves. It is constantly changing," says Porter, who launched Lake Louie in February 2000. "This is a huge time to evolve right now. The sophistication of what is on the shelves is much higher than it was five years ago and the choices are amazing," he adds.
The new beers, along with a few familiar ones are presented in three separate series: Hop-A-Louie, Session and Dark Shadows.
Hop-A-Louie, of course, focuses on those beer drinkers interested in hop-focused brews. "We are doing a hop series because, obviously, the whole world is hop crazy," says Porter. One new beer in the series is Bunny Green Toe, a rich double IPA that's 6.8% ABV. Set to debut in May, it's named for Fawn Knutsen, the wife of one Jeffrey Lebowski in The Big Lebowski. Another hoppy new brew is Grade 10, an IPA that will appear in August. It is made with a new variety of hops grown in the Pacific Northwest, one so new that they're not yet named. Porter says it will have a very unique bitter flavor profile with hints of strawberry. The name Grade 10 is a tribute to Porter's fondness of the Canadian television show Trailer Park Boys. Rounding out the series will be Mosquito Beach, a seasonal steam beer that Porter introduced in 2011 and will return to shelves this summer.
Lake Louie's Session series reflects a style of beer that has come of age, explains Porter, and features beers that are crafted to be less than 5% ABV. "I'm getting older and I'm in the mode of using less alcohol to have more fun. So, I really like the whole idea of the session, drink several beers and be social," he says. It features beers that are intended to be less than 5% ABV.
Among these lighter new beers is a session IPA called 10-81, at 4.8% ABV, that's expected to be released in June. Its name is the police 10-code for breathalyzer request. Also fitting among the lighter offerings will be Impulse Drive, a version of the brewery's most popular beer Warped Speed Scotch Ale, that comes out in July. (Devotees of the Star Trek franchise will appreciate the name references.) Finally, for the Session series, Porter is changing the name of the year-round release Coon Rock Cream Ale to Golden Booty Cream Ale. It's named after the infamous gold government bullion treasure that was believed to have been hidden in Iowa County's Coon Rock Cave following the Civil War.
The third line of beers rounding out Lake Louie's makeover. It's called the Dark Shadows series, and it will feature the brewery's darker, richer, malty brews.
New to that lineup is Maple Surple, a beer that will debut in May. It's a brown ale made with maple syrup, and the name comes from the 1960s Roger Miller song "Dang Me" that has the line, "Roses are red and violets are purple, you are sweeter than Maple Surple." Completing the series are Lake Louie's current well-established seasonals Dino's Dark and Milk Stout.
On Friday, May 2, the first night of Madison Craft Beer Week, Porter will be on hand at the Argus Bar Grille for a meet and greet and tasting party. Staring at 6 p.m., Porter will personally pour Bunny Green Toe and Impulse Drive along with other Lake Louie beers.
Porter says he's not changing his regular year-round beers or his line of limited release four-packs, but is rather adding new beers to stay relevant amidst changing beer drinkers' tastes. All of the new releases will be sold in six-packs for $8-$9.
"I feel that with trends right now that any small brewer sitting on their laurels and saying "I've got a flagship and my bills are paid' has a mindset that is going to get them to become a former brewery," states Porter. "Besides, I was bored and it sounded fun," he laughs.