Last week Sprecher Brewing hosted a release party for Fresh Hop Amber Lager. At the end of the work day last Friday, the fun began with a couple brewery tours and some sampling plus plenty of pizza and pretzels to go around.
This new limited batch beer is a twist on the already classic Sprecher Amber. Brewer Randy Sprecher took 200 pounds of fresh Cascade hops and dry hopped 40 barrels of Amber. The hops didn’t pass on a strong floral aroma but rather seemed to alter the mouth feel, creating a rather different, but no less drinkable, Sprecher Amber. Trying them side by side left us trying to put words to the differences, and honestly I can’t tell you which one I liked better. (See below to find out where you can try it yourself!)
This isn’t just about another great brew from Sprecher, but also a story of keeping things local. You see, the 200 lbs of hops were grown right here in Wisconsin. For about a decade, roughly 1860 to 1870, Wisconsin was the powerhouse of hops production in the US. Crop failures in New York pushed a price spike that the fellas returning to their Wisconsin farms after the Civil War took advantage of. At one point the crop reached 11 million pounds! And then the prices plummeted again, blights followed, growers in the West found they had ideal conditions for hop growing, and the hoppy days were gone for Wisconsin.
But hops are making a comeback in Wisconsin. These particular hops were provided by a hops co-op that Sprecher Brewing helped found. Hopefully, we will see more of them showing up around the state in the near future. Hats off to Sprecher for trying new things even with a well established beer.
Pictured here are Martin Hintz — renowned Wisconsin author and part of the husband and wife (Pam Percy) writer team responsible for the “Boris & Doris On the Town” column for the Shepherd Express — and Lucy Saunders, fabulous beer writer, super taster, and expert on cooking with beer. Both strike a pose with Randy Sprecher. Martin holds a copy of his latest book, A Spirited History of Milwaukee Brews and Booze
Also on hand was DRAFT Magazine’s The Beer Runner, Tim Cigelske with his wife Jess and daughter Clara.
The Lounge Lizards provided the musical entertainment for the night.
Toward the end of the evening, Randy initiated a Strongman Competition. Participants had to hoist up a liter of Sprecher beer, hold it at arms length straight out, and see how long they could last without spilling. The winner lasted just over 4 minutes and had twisted his body in such a fashion that we believe he has probably required a chiropractor. Still, very impressive, and he walks away with a case of Sprecher for his troubles.
Where Can I Drink Fresh Hop Amber Lager?
Besides over the bar in the Sprecher brewery?? Look for it at one of these Milwaukee area establishments:
Sprecher’s Restaurant and Pub (in Lake Geneva, Middleton and Wisconsin Dells)
South Shore Inn
Milwaukee Ale House
Sankey’s Pub + Grill (in Three Lakes)
The Rumpus Room
Von Trier Tavern
Stubby’s Pub and Grub
The Bomb Shelter
Sprecher isn’t just for the adults. Remember they have a great selection of gourmet sodas, and their root beer got the nod as the nation’s best from The New York Times. The first three Sundays of December the brewery will host Soda with Santa.
Looking for more great Wisconsin microbreweries? Check out the road touring guidebook to suds in the Beer State: Wisconsin’s Best Beer Guide! (includes free beer offers and make a great gift) Also available in bookstores!