Checking Out the Local Food and Drink Scene
Mar 6, 2014
01:33 PM
The Chow Down

Next Door Brewing and Madison Magazine Collaborate on Custom Beer

Next Door Brewing and Madison Magazine Collaborate on Custom Beer

PHOTO BY GRACE EDQUIST

Keith Symonds is the brewmaster at Next Door Brewing, which collaborated with Madison Magazine to create a custom beer for our Top Shelf Winter Taste event.

As the craft beer scene in Madison continues to explode, a companion trend has emerged: custom beers brewed for specific events and businesses. It’s a movement Next Door Brewing brewmaster Keith Symonds is seeing industry-wide, but it’s also something that the Next Door team built into their business plan from the beginning. They’ve brewed custom batches for Stalzy’s Deli and WORT so far, with collaborations with Karben4 and One Barrel Brewing and Atlas Brewing out of Chicago in the works. 

Madison Magazine is the latest to benefit from the craze. As a special addition to our Top Shelf Winter Taste happening Monday, March 10, we collaborated with Next Door to create a custom Irish red ale called Big Red Blessing. Symonds and magazine’s account rep (and a homebrewer) Kelly Hopkins brewed away from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on a cold Tuesday in February.

Just arriving at the chosen beer style was an exercise in collaboration. Hopkins and Symonds went with an Irish red ale for a few reasons, one being its drinkability compared to the standard craft beer lineup. “Big Red Blessing is malty, and the hop aromas and bitterness are much softer than the current batch of craft beers,” Symonds says. 

The impending St. Patrick’s Day celebrations didn’t work against the Irish red ale style, either.

From there, the name Big Red Blessing evolved from the connection to the beer style, to an homage to both the Badgers and Symonds’s alma mater, Cornell, whose mascot is the Big Red Bear.

And why “blessing”?

Hopkins puts it best: “A really good craft beer is a blessing!”

Now that’s something we can cheers to.

Get your own taste of Big Red Blessing at Madison Magazine’s Top Shelf Winter Taste on March 10 at the Beacon Lounge at Bonfyre American Grille from 6–9 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

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