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Good choices with local beer or old classics
Em at DBC GO
COLUMNIST EMILY SCHENDEL is seen here enjoying the music, friends and some tasty cold beer at the Driftless Brewing Company’s grand opening event in Soldiers Grove.

GAYS MILLS - Last Saturday, I was one off many in attendance of the Driftless Brewery’s grand opening celebration. And boy, was it a good time. 

I have to say, like any good Wisconsinite, I really do love beer. However, the whole process of having babies and breastfeeding them, really slows down one’s ability to consume beer. Even if it is okay to have one or two and still nurse a baby, I often found that life is rather busy with a baby and toddler than getting to the bottom of a can of PBR before it gets heavy and warm can be nearly impossible. 

So, I was overjoyed, when Independent-Scout reporter Gillian Pomplun was on the scene capturing the event and so graciously gifted me a beer ticket that was going unused. I promptly snatched it like it was Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket and scuttled off to the beer tent before I could be stopped. Apparently, though, I am out of practice with getting a plastic cup of beer at any kind of event, because I got tangled up in what I THOUGHT was the line, for, a little too long. Before another woman came and asked, “Are you in line?”...”Well, I think so?” I responded. My insufficient answer caused her to charge forward and ask others if they were in line. Only to find out I’d just been awkwardly eave dropping on a pair in conversation, not actively seeking brews. 

I weaved my way up to the front and ordered my Kick Axe IPA from brew master and Independent-Scout cover dude, Chris Ballistreri himself.  I happily sipped away on my one beer for the entire stay in the parking lot of the grocery-store-turned-brewery now brewery-plus-taproom. Because, luckily, an IPA isn’t so bad a little bit warm. 

I have, on a few occasions, taken part in the enjoyable hobby of brewing your own beer. Although, it should be of note, I’ve never successfully created anything quite like what they have going on down at Driftless. 

For as long as I’ve been able to consume beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon has been my standard ‘go-to’ beer of choice. Probably because it was cheap, and, the blue ribbon promised smooth, sudsy success I assumed.  I turned 21 while living in Gays Mills, so, I would wander over to Halvers Town Tap and have a PBR on occasion. It was rather comical to the gang of old guys who would be in there to see a young person such as myself drinking what they always called a “old man’s beer.” 

When I moved to Madison I was greeted with an entirely different phenomenon. Apparently, PBR is a Hipster beer. Ol’ Pabst was officially too cool for school and flying off the shelves at every liquor store in town. All of the bars offered it as cans, bottles, and silos, I even saw it on tap some places. There was even a bar that offered up 40 ounce bottles of Pabst if it was your birthday. Strictly under the stipulation you don’t share it. But what fun is that?

As I’ve gotten a little more long in the tooth, my pallet has refined a bit. I still however, get odd looks when I choose the hoppiest strongest IPAs I can muster. Most people tout them as “too dark.” And will stick their tongue out in disgust. Luckily, I’ve refined the Budweiser-drinking Chasca right along with me, who often will ask the wait staff for the beer list, and look to me to make the decision. Living in a world where we are both so self-reliant and self-sufficient, there is something oddly romantic and sweet about your other half relying on you to pick a good beer. 

All that being said and my love of PBR aside, I am pretty damn excited and proud that we have such a great brewery with Driftless Brewing in our backyard. They make a great product with a beer style for everyone and only continue to grow their offerings, while honoring the seasons and the area they call home. If you like to indulge in the occasional beer or two, I encourage you to try Driftless. If you’re me, you’ll like the Kick Axe, it’s strong, hoppy, and delicious. If you’re like Chasca, you’ll probably like the Local Buzz, its classic, light and a touch sweet. But really, you can’t go wrong with any of ‘em. Cheers.