SOLDIERS GROVE - The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s “beer reporter” is planning on being on hand for a book signing at the Driftless Brewery in Soldiers Grove on Saturday, Sept. 16.
Yes Kathy Flanigan is confirming she’ll be there and the publisher is promising she’ll have books in hand this time. Flanigan has already cancelled a few book signings because the book wasn’t ready. She even had one book signing without any booksthat won’t happen this time she’s been assured.
With or without her nifty new book, ‘Beer Lover’s Wisconsin: Best Breweries, Brewpubs and Beer Bars,’ Flanigan has plenty to say about beer and is a huge fan of the little brewery in Soldiers Grove and the beer they make.
How do you get to be a beer reporter? Well, it probably helps to work in a city like Milwaukee with a huge affinity for the golden liquid.
Flanigan has worked the Milwaukee newspaper for the past 23 years. She is employed as a general assignment reporter in the entertainment department. For the past four years, her specialty has become writing about beers and the microbreweries that make them.
There are currently 22 craft brewers in the Milwaukee area and over 150 in the state. Flanigan has been to all of them.
The beer reporter believes that local breweries are great sources of civic pride and tend to build community.
“People like the idea of having their own brewery,” Flanigan explains. “It just feels right, like going to the corner bar. People go to their local brewery.”
The reporter points to Potosi where a local brewery was revived and a brewery museum was created.
“A brewery can be the center of a community,” Flanigan says. Her book is essentially a guide to going to these local breweries.
Activities at breweries could include trying a flight of beer. For the uninitiated, that’s a tray of small glasses filled with different kinds of beer. Another thing that often happens at the small breweries is listening to local musicians.
“It’s a place for the community to gather,” Flanigan says. “You never know exactly what to expect.”
Beer gardens have gotten popular in the Milwaukee area and there’s a list of them in Flanigan’s book. There’s also something about the beer crawls held in Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay.
Flanigan is particularly fond of a beer crawl in Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee that includes Mobcaft, Brenner and the one-barrel brewery Urban Harvest. In addition to the beer, there’s lots of good food to be had along the way.
There are four different beer crawls held in different areas of Milwaukee.
“Beer could have a huge impact on tourism,” according to the reporter. She’s looking forward to being in Soldiers Grove this Sunday.
“Well I’m coming to sell my book, but I can talk beer all day long,” Flanigan admits. “I think I’m not going to do it and then I do it.
“Driftless is one of my favorites in the state, so I’m looking forward to being there,” Flanigan says.
Why not join Kathy Flanigan and the gang at Driftless Brewing Company of Soldiers Grove for the Fourth Annual Arts & Brews After Party after the Driftless Area Art Festival on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Brewery, 102 West Sunbeam Boulevard in the Solar Village—it’s the former food store building.
Flanigan will have books available for purchase and signing and she’ll talk about her experience visiting beer locations all over Wisconsin. Her website for the book is https://www.wisconsinbeerbook.com/.
Driftless Brewing Company will have beer both days (Saturday-Sunday, 16-17) at the Driftless Area Art Festival. They invite attendees to stop down to the brewery for the After Party on Saturday afternoon, Sept 16 at 4 p.m.
“We’ll have your favorite Driftless beers and a few new surprises!” business operations manager Cynthia Olmstead says. “It’s the biggest event that we hold at the brewery all year.”
Driftless brewer Chris Balistrieri was hard at work brewing up some of those surprises on Tuesday morning.
“I’m just kegging up a true Oktoberfest,” Chris says when we reach him at the brewery. “It’s a unique beer for us, we don’t usually make lagers. She’s looking good, a real nice caramel color.”
With warmer weather expected this weekend, Chris is also making up a lighter brew for the after party. The lighter beer is a Saison du Soleil—French farm-style ale.
“It’s a real big event for us every year and this year we decided to do a little bit more,” Chris explains. “We thought having Kathy Flanigan here with her new book would be a neat thing. We’re just bringing a little bit of the Wisconsin beer culture here.”
Although Driftless Brewery does not serve food, they’re working with the Old Oak Inn and Country Gardens restaurants to have food options available for our customers for take-out and delivery. Music for the event will be provided by ‘Whiskey Chickn’ out of Viroqua, an old timey string band orchestra and the Parrish Music group. For more information, you can contact the Driftless Brewery at 608-624-5577 or find them on Facebook.