We made a trip out to the Wisconsin Dells this past weekend for what’s easily become one of our favorite annual craft beer events — Dells on Tap.
Friday night kicked off the two-day event with the Craft Beer Walk. Seventeen participating locations downtown featured guest beers exclusively for Craft Beer Walk-ers. A few of our favorite stops were Showboat Saloon for the wild, raucous environment and Toppling Goliath samples, hip Mama’s Garage for 3Floyds, and Ale Asylum at pour-your-own-wine bar Kilbourn Cork. Also, MACS Maracaroni and Cheese Shop is a new must-stop for food next time we visit; the creative twists on mac ‘n cheese were super fun and the food was delicious!!
Saturday, nearly 70 breweries from Wisconsin and the Midwest and hundreds of craft beer enthusiasts descended downtown once again for the Dells on Tap craft beer festival. Between the two of us, we sampled a lot of great beers and other beverages. But we’ve narrowed down our favorites to a final list of Top 5 Beers at Dells on Tap 2019:
1. “Cookies and Cream Imperial Stout – Untitled Art (Waunakee, WI)
There are certain breweries we’ve stumbled upon in the past that we look forward to running across again. Untitled Art out of the Madison area is one of those breweries. Their beers are just that — art, brilliantly creative in concept and exceptional in quality. Last year, both Untitled Art’s Horchata Stout (an imperial cinnamon milk stout brewed in collaboration with Mikerphone Brewing) and Pineapple Sherbet (also brewed with Mikerphone Brewing) were two of our favorite beers at Dells on Tap. Once again, they made our list of top five favorites this year with their Cookies and Cream Imperial Stout — a 12% Imperial/Double stout that tasted exactly like liquid cookies and cream. One of the first beers we sampled this year, it set a high standard for everything else.
2. Mershon’s Snowed in Cinnamon – Mershon’s Cidery (Stoughton, WI)
We always love a good surprise, and one of this year’s was a little cidery out of Stoughton, WI called Mershon’s. After sampling mostly beers the first couple passes ’round, we decided to check out the non-beer options. Mershon’s caught our eye with a three-tap lineup of their traditional cider, berry cider and a cinnamon apple cider called Snowed in Cinnamon. Snowed in Cinnamon blew our minds. If Untitled Art’s Cookies and Cream was liquid cookies and cream, then Mershon’s Snowed in Cinnamon cider was liquid apple pie. The perfect blend of apple and cinnamon with a touch of honey, this one was pleasantly refreshing and yet appropriate for the rain falling outside. “I would take bottles of this to Thanksgiving and Christmas this year,” Katie said before going back for a second (and then third and fourth) sample.
3. Cherry Lime Radler – Wisconsin Brewing Company (Verona, WI)
We hadn’t heard the term “radler” until we tried the Cherry Lime Radler from Wisconsin Brewing Company out of Verona, WI. Apparently it’s similar to a shandy — half beer and half fruit soda — which makes it a sweet, light and seriously sessionable. Wisconsin Brewing’s radler is also gluten free — which makes it a fantastic option for those who are gluten sensitive. Coming in at 4% ABV and only 110 calories, this beer is a gem. The cherry and lime notes were very true to flavor and well balanced but also not too sweet. We enjoyed trying something lighter amidst all of the heavier IPAs and barrel aged stouts at Dells on Tap and can only hope they will still be brewing it next summer. It would make the perfect beer to enjoy at the lake!
4. American AF Watermelon Kolsch – Karben4 Brewing (Madison, WI)
Another Wisconsin brewery we’ve discovered on our ale adventures and always look forward to running across is Karben4 Brewing out of Madison. The service in their taproom has always been fantastic (shout out to Andy!), and their beers have always been really solid and consistent. Plus, their branding and marketing are totally rad! Last year, Karben4’s Apple Ale made our top five list, and this year they’ve made it again with their watermelon berliener weiss/kolsch mashup America AF. A 3.3% ABV beer made for crushing in the summer, it was a nice split from the festival’s otherwise pretty fall-heavy lineup.
5. Malted Milk Ball Stout – Westallion Brewing Co. (West Allis, WI)
Another pleasant surprise making our top five list this year was a brewery out of the Milwaukee suburbs — Westallion Brewing Co. As we approached their booth, we first noticed the buckets on the table filled with candy — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Candy Corn and Whoppers. But after looking at the menu board we realized what the candy was really about — a nod to their three candy-themed beers Peanut Butter Porter, Candy Corn Ale and Malted Milk Ball Stout. Last year, their Candy Corn Ale gained the attention of Late Show host Stephen Colbert, who tweeted “A Wisconsin brewery is now making Candy Corn beer. Perfect, if you love the taste of wax but don’t have time to chew!” This year, though, it was their Malted Milk Ball Stout that most impressed us. Typically not ones to enjoy Whoppers or the taste of malt, there was just something about the taste of this smooth, creamy and malty (in more ways than one!) stout that left us saying, “Ooh! This one’s actually really good!”