Thank you for taking the leap.

Some of you have leveraged everything you own to start a brewery. Some of you started with almost nothing and worked non-stop for years to get a taproom open. Some of you left good jobs at great breweries to come to Milwaukee and start from scratch. Some of you started Brewing here when craft beer was less than a few percent of the market share. Some of you moved your brewery here from across the state.

There are no guarantees in craft beer, or in anything. All of you have taken huge risks to make the Milwaukee Craft Beer Renaissance happen, and that needs to be acknowledged. Thank you.

Thank you for great beer.

Brewing is hard, physical work, but it’s also an art and a science. Anyone can make beer, but very few people can make really excellent beer. Tasting notes aside, I pick up a few things in every Milwaukee beer I taste: the time, skill, and energy you brewers invest in your work. And let’s talk style too. I’ve have IPAs, barrel-aged sours, barrel-aged stouts, double IPAs, a Kolsch, lagers, wet-hopped lagers, like three different kinds of porters, a scotch ale, an oatmeal stout, two kinds of pilsners, a Belgian-IPA, a nitro-Belgian-Stout, a hoppy Wit, a IPA made with a spruce branch, a Bock with ginger, Saison with American hops, and I’m seriously, seriously just getting started. The sheer variety of beers you guys put out is bonkers and a total joy.

I love tasting notes and process tweaks as much as the next beer-geek, but really beer just comes down to the simple thing: it needs to be delicious. Sure, what delicious means can change from style to style, but the fact remains, the beer needs to be yummy. And I’ve never had a Milwaukee beer that wasn’t excellent.

Thank you for working your asses off.

I have yet to meet a single brewer currently on the MIlwaukee scene who isn’t working sixty- or seventy-hour weeks. Many of you guys are brewing all week and then still working your taprooms on Friday and Saturday nights. Some of you guys are doing that even though you have families. Some of you guys are brewing and making sales, delivering beer, collecting old kegs, and cleaning them. It’s become common for craft breweries to get help from avid fans who leap at the chance to help bottle or scrub kegs, but that’s something I haven’t seen yet in this city. I have yet to meet one of you who hasn’t personally toiled to help build your taproom or install your brewing equipment.

Without your dedication and work ethic, Milwaukee would never see the exploding craft beer scene it’s seeing now. Thank you.

Thank you for having vision.

For so long no one seemed to see that what had been happening in other cities across the country wasn’t happening in Milwaukee, but you saw it and you acted. That took vision. Vision to see an opportunity, to design a brewery, to build a list of beers and then to design and test those recipes. No two of your breweries are alike. We have a brewery that crowd-sources recipies, a brewery that pairs art with beer, and soon will have an urban-farmhouse brewery. We have a german-influenced brewery, a west-coast-influenced brewery, we have a brewery dedicated to doing good, we have a corner brewery that never seems to make the same beer twice.

In a world where most people rarely look up from their feet or our beyond their noses, you saw something: a chance, a great beer, a new model for making beer, a new way to think about beer, a way of taking the best traditions and making them new. Some of you saw things no one else understands yet. Without that vision all of Milwaukee would be missing out on some great beer.

Thank you for being real, honest, and approachable.

One thing I think people underestimate about Milwaukee’s beer scene right now is that you can pretty much walk into any brewery in the city and meet the brewer in five minutes. After a ten minute conversation with him you feel like you made a new friend. I honestly have yet to meet a brewer who was too busy or too pretentious to find time to talk to me. It’s not like that everywhere. Many brewers are legitimately too busy or work so much behind the scenes that the average drinker can’t meet them easily. Buying local and supporting Milwaukee’s craft scene is a total joy to me because I know that I am supporting great, hard-working people.