Friday, July 20, 2007

Pink Boots at Capital and visit to Lake Louie

"To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization." ~Arnold Toynbee

July 16: Drove to Middleton, Wisconsin from Wisconsin Dells and Brewmaster Kirby Nelson gave me a quick tour of his beers in Capital's tasting room. Kirby's been employed there since 1986, after having worked in QC (Quality Control) for G.Heilmann at several locations.

Then Kirby took me to his house where I met his wife Barb. We enjoyed a late dinner and several beers. I am writing this at midnight on June 20 and it's amazing how quickly you lose the details when you can't take notes because you're too busy enjoying the experience. (Plus, at this moment I am surrounded by friendly drunks jamming blues songs in my college roommate's kitchen in Sleepy Hollow, Illinois.)

June 17: The next morning Kirby gave me a tour of the brewery and showed me his fermenters, all named after Frank Zappa songs. Then he set me to work with Patrick Wilke. Pat was quiet for the first half hour, and I just followed him at a brisk pace as he ran around the brewhouse taking care of business.

Pat must have decided I was OK because he got over his shyness and entertained me with interesting beer history, gossip and trivia. Pat knows more minutia about the beer industry and its personalities past and present than anybody I've ever met. (Photo above, L to R: Patrick, Teri and Kirby.) I even got to broom out the lauter tun (photo above).

In the afternoon Kirby took me on a country ride in his fast vintage BMW to Lake Louie Brewing Company in Arena, Wisconsin. Head Brewer Tim Wauters gave me the tour while owner Tom Porter and Kirby caught up. Tim mentioned he'd just read my article about Hiring Brewers and he liked my "1 + 1" theory, of hiring people that are smarter than yourself.

Lake Louie is named after the pond that Tom Porter's uncle dug years ago, where Tom and his buddies used to go skinny-dipping when they were in high school. Lake Louie Brewing has been open for about 10 years and Tom's built it to 4,000 barrels per year. (Tom -let me know if I got this right or not and I'll change it.)
Tom has the lucky situation where more people want his beer than he can brew, so he and Tim just write down names on a waiting list and call the folks when their turn comes up. As Tom says, the "Keg Waiting List" is a great thing to bring to the bank when you are looking for a loan. Lake Louie Brewing just finished its last expansion, and is about to embark on its next expansion. (Photo on left, L to R: Tom and Tim.)

Lake Louie had a milk stout and a porter on tap. Tim grabbed me a sample of their cream ale. Tim is into history, and he explained that he tried to use the ingredients that would have been available in Wisconsin prior to Prohibition when he and Tom designed this cream ale.

Lake Louie has some history connected to Eugene, Oregon: Their 15-barrel brewery originally was in service at Field's Brewing Company. My owners at Steelhead bought the Fields building, inherited the brewery, and put me in charge of selling it. That was back in about 2002 when you could barely give away a 15-barrel brewery so I contracted Ager Tank & Equipment to sell it for us, and Jason Ager sold it to Tom at Lake Louie. What a small world.

Kirby, Tom and Tim are all music geeks and guitar freaks. I was so impressed. Their music conversations went right over my head, but I sure enjoyed that they let me hang out with them while Tom showed off his impressive electric and classic guitar collection and Kirby played with them. (Photo on right is of Tom's "guitar room", L to R: Tom, Tim and Kirby.)

After a video introduction to Dale Watson and his Lone Stars, Kirby and I rode back to Middleton for showers and more beer tasting at Capital. Then it was back to Kirby and Barb's house for dinner.

When you meet Kirby, you will learn what a true son of Wisconsin is. You will probably never meet a more hard-core Wisconsinite than Kirby Nelson. Although Kirby and Barb have a soft-spot in their hearts for Florida, as witnessed by their seashell-studded bathroom wall -- across from the etched framed sign that reads, "Dale Watson Bathed Here."

The true purpose of dinner was so that I, Teri Fahrendorf, former Wisconsite could experience a proper Wisconsin Manhattan. Being an Oregonian since 1990, and a west coaster since 1984, I mistakenly thought a proper Manhattan was made with either Bourbon or Rye, but NO! In Wisconsin a proper Manhattan uses Brandy, preferably Korbel, and Kirby thought this Wisconsin-girl ought to know that!

So that was the focus of our dinner: BFM (Big Fu**ing Manhattans) made by Barb in pint glasses (with lots of ice, luckily) and snacks. Click here for the recipe for a Wisconsin Manhattan. Photo below is of Barb and Kirby (celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss this year) in their kitchen under the Eat, Drink - Be Merry sign. We did. You should too!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You captured my parents in a very lovely way! I am their daughter, Sadie. And may I say that while reading this is brought a smile to my face. I love how my mother introduced you to the famous BFM's!!