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JUNE/JULY 2005 | REGIONAL | EAST COAST

Milwaukee Beer Fest 2005
By Chuck Cook

One of my friends, a Wisconsin native and fellow beer writer, had been telling me for years that a visit to the Milwaukee Beer Festival and Blessing of the Bock event was something I had to do at least once. Well, he was right.

Held on March 13 of this year, the event began with music by the River West Accordion Club, singing classic polkas and old beer commercial songs. The beer drinking could not begin until the Rev. Robert Giese blessed the bock, a tradition going back 17 years. Brewers in the building were invited to come forward with some of their beer for the invocation, and some heavenly brews were indeed to be found at the event.

The Blessing is the brainchild of Jim Klisch, who, along with his brother Russ, run Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery. Jim held the first few events in local bars until it became so popular that it morphed into a beer festival, now ably directed by John Zutz.

With over 20 local Midwest breweries pouring their beers, and with beers from as far away as Belgium and Germany available, there was plenty to choose from. Among the 100+ different brews were lots of bock beers, as you might imagine. Standout brews included Capital’s Blonde Doppelbock, Lakefront’s Bourbon-Barrel Bock, Nicolet Doppelbock, Sprecher Maibock, and Tyranena Fighting Finches Maibock.

After a (biggest) beer-belly contest, dancers from Barika Bellydance captivated the crowd with their gyrations. In fact, most of the male and even some of the female fest-goers seemed transfixed for some time while Kristel, Traci, Ami, Lane and Marie performed. Once their show was completed, the ladies joined fest-goers in sampling and enjoying a few beers. Even the Rev. Giese was spotted hoisting a brew or two.

The Milwaukee Beer Festival (milwaukeebeerfest.com) is held at the Serbian Memorial Hall, which is very convenient, as it is across the street from Discount Liquors. This shop carries over 950 beers from 32 countries and is possibly the best beer store in Wisconsin.

You heard it from me: This beer fest is worth a visit.

Chuck Cook is a freelance writer living in Richmond, Va. His passions are beer and travel, and he has written for various beer publications. He can be reached via e-mail at chuck@beerandtravel.com.

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