I asked local brewers: Who would you want to have a beer with? Here's how they answered.
Rich Becker, brewmaster of J.T. Whitney's Pub and Brewery: Ronald Reagan, who in 1954 appeared in a PBR ad. "He's my hero!"
Fred Gray, brewmaster and owner of Gray's Tied House: Benjamin Franklin, who is paraphrased for saying that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. "Franklin was a smart guy, an inventor and innovator, and liked to tip a few back from time to time."
Mark Duchow, brewmaster of the Grumpy Troll Restaurant and Brewery: Thomas Jefferson. "What a great American, one of the founders of our country, and he enjoyed a beer from time to time."
Rob LoBreglio, vice president and Brewmaster of Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co.: Shakespeare. "I know that he enjoyed beer, and it would be fun just to sit and have a beer with him and listen to him talk." Shakespeare wrote in Henry IV: "I will make it a felony to drink small beer."
Aran Madden, owner of Furthermore Beer Co.: "I'd like to have a conversation with Jesus of Nazareth about turning water into wine. Why couldn't it have been beer?"
Dean Coffey, brewer and co-owner of Ale Asylum: Scientist Louis Pasteur, who first demonstrated that fermentation involved the conversion of sugar to alcohol using yeast under anaerobic conditions. "It would be great to talk to him about fermentation."
Wayne Esser, fourth-generation owner of Cross Plains Brewery: Joseph and Heinrich Leinenkugel, the 19th century founders of Leinenkugel Brewing Co. "I'd like to sit down and go back to those early years when the rivalry between our families pointed them to Chippewa Falls and us to Cross Plains."
Peter Fauerbach, owner of Fauerbach Brewing Co.: Karl Haertel Fauerbach (1897-1967). "He made the tough decision to close the brewery in 1966. I'd like to talk to him about brewing then and our family history."
Tom Porter, brewmaster and owner of Lake Louie Brewing: Ub Iwerks, animator, Academy Award winner, and special-effects technician who developed cameras that mixed live action with animation. "Iwerks was the guy who created Mickey Mouse, left Disney to start his own company, and when it failed, he returned and focused on technical innovations that changed the industry."
Deb Carey, founder of New Glarus Brewing Co.: American painter Mary Cassatt (1844-1926). "I feel like we would share something in common. I like to think of myself as a female artist working in a male dominated industry. Cassatt liked to travel, she was independent, and I think she would really enjoy a good beer."
Rob Larson, founder of Tyranena Brewing Co.: Albert Einstein. "It would be fascinating to talk with someone who changed the world, and he deserves a good beer."
Kirby Nelson, Capital Brewery's brewmaster: "Jeez, there are a lot of notable historical figures that I'd like to meet, but most of all I'd like to sit down and have a beer with my mom."