Gloves come off after insult about Wisconsin beer

There’s at least one thing that binds Minnesotans and Wisconsinites. Neither takes kindly to criticism from the national media.

Minnesota’s thin skin has been well documented here but one Wisconsin columnist has taken umbrage over the assertion that Wisconsin beer isn’t that good.

Deadspin’s Drew Magary wasn’t even writing about beer when he penned his Green Bay Packers preview a couple of weeks ago. The insult to the state’s hops just sort of fit right after calling Green Bay “a disgusting fraud, a haven for sheltered racism and passive aggressive hostility all cloaked in supposed old-school values.”

That didn’t stir Wisconsin State Journal columnist Chris Drosner up. This did.

Wisconsin has the highest per-capita beer consumption of anywhere in the world but they don’t even have any decent beers.

Ninety percent of tourist attractions in the state involve buildings erected by 19th century Germans who were exiled from the old country for robbing peasants, who then set up shop here to make pee-beer that Wisconsin people still quaff despite the advent of modern brewing technology.

Drosner, who writes as the Beer Baron, did not take this slight standing up.

He leveled Magary with this aside. “Magary is a Minnesota native.”

It’s been 15 years or so since sub-decent beer — the kind sold in 30-packs that surely fueled Magary’s bad take — defined the beer made in Wisconsin. These days, the number of top-flight breweries in Wisconsin is large and growing: Central Waters. Ale Asylum. Lakefront. O’so. Karben4. New Glarus! I mean, NEW GLARUS, Drew.

And New Glarus, the 20th-largest U.S. craft brewer which doesn’t sell a drop outside the Badger State, is a microcosm of why Wisconsin beer doesn’t get as much respect as it should among the coast-hugging opinion-formers that run many of our nation’s most prominent publications (and also Deadspin).

For the most part, you have to come here to get it. There are no Sierra Nevadas or New Belgiums from Wisconsin, sending their mostly great but certainly better-than-decent beer across the country. So unless you’re really a beer geek, a Marylander like Magary probably doesn’t know about Ale Asylum’s IPAs or O’so’s sours or New Glarus’ — well, just about everything from New Glarus is exceptional — because they’re not in his local bottle shop.

The thing is, Magary is a Minnesota native and seems to get back home often enough know better about Wisconsin beer. Minnesota gets the Central Waters Brewers Reserve bourbon barrel series; that alone should be enough to counteract the oceans of Miller Lite flowing from Milwaukee.

Of course, Minnesota also gets one visit a year from the Packers, and we all know how that’s turned out lately. So maybe the beer cheap shot was just sour grapes.

Next time you’re in Wisconsin, Drew, hit me up and we can drink through several of Wisconsin’s better-than-decent beers. Oh, and sorry about your quarterback. Really.

Ouch, sir. I thought we were bonding.

  • jon

    Sour grapes?
    Grape Salad?


    Seriously though, I don’t get the hype about New Glarus… it’s pretty middle of the road for craft beer in my opinion, sure it’s better than american macro brew, but it’s not the heavenly elixir that people from WI make it out to be…

  • Matt Black

    Central Waters is great, anything in the Reserve series is really good. I really like Ale Asylum too. But I agree with Jon and MNS, I wouldn’t plant my flag on New Glarus to describe good Wisconsin beer. It’s ok to meh but there is so much better out there.

  • Gary F

    Don’t mess with Sconnie, they drink and make lots of good, and bad beers.

  • BReynolds33

    New Glarus makes absolutely nothing worth the hype and love they are given. Every beer they make is easily replaced by any number of other beers, both national and craft.

    I’m not saying Wisconsin only makes bad beer. Having not tried them all, that would be an exceptionally stupid thing to say, but New Glarus is not the hill I would choose to die on to defend the state.

    Side note on these previews… they are meant to be viscous roast style posts. I mean, they are titled, “Why Your Team Sucks.” The Vikings one described Minnesotans this way: “a group of passive-aggressive psychopaths who have somehow deluded themselves into believing they’re plain, honest folk. There are Bridgehampton socialites more willing to speak their mind than these silently fuming lutefisk eaters. It’s an entire state of TV morning show hosts. And the whole “one of us” thing is genuinely repugnant. This state treats itself like a country club and it treats the rest of the world like it’s on a waiting list to get in. If only Minnesotans knew how little everyone else thinks of that frozen wasteland. By God, I will scream my contempt out loud through the new Gjallarhorn.”

    • Jeff

      I spent a lot of time as a contractor in Marshfield and if Central Waters is the best they have to offer I’m not impressed. It’s credible but not comparable to the best Minnesota has to offer.

      I think his description of Minnesota is pretty accurate. I haven’t seen the waiting list but I’m pretty sure there’s one out there. I’d add we think we’re better than everyone else but we’re lacking in self-esteem and want everyone to tell us how good we are.

  • Gary F

    Sure, some beers are better than others. And as long as its not one of the “big boy” beers and the small breweries they now purchased, I don’t care if its from MN or WI. The lesser I can see through it, the better.

    Careful what beer you buy, especially at a concert or sporting event. Big beer is fighting back,

  • MarkUp

    1) I like Spotted Cow (it’s not the greatest in the world, but it’s pretty good beer). When I read this article, I filed it under “more nice things we can’t have in MN.”
    2) Since we can’t get it in MN and it’s not worth an hours-long beer run across the border, I’d propose Urban Growler’s Cowbell Ale as a close approximation to New Glarus’s Spotted Cow.
    3) We’ll all have to deal with the fact that Toppling Goliath is brewed out of Iowa.

    • P Gustaf

      Spotted Cow is fine, but it’s one of their least interesting beers.

  • Khatti

    I’m spiritually, if not always physically, from New Ulm Minnesota; YOU DO NOT WANT ME IN THIS FIGHT!

    What I do find interesting is the use of racism as an epithet. This is the thing I would like a comment on. I always assume MPR’s heavy duty clientele would find me a racist because I always assume the definition of racism among MPeRs is: “Anyone I find disagreeable for any reason I deem appropriate.” It is a characterization based on a four-letter-word used in instances where I, crude redneck that I am, would use other characterizations based on other four-letter-words.

    There, of course, is one caveat to this: no one is going to demand you lose your job or business because you’re a douche.

    • What?

      Um, nevermind. Forget I asked.

    • Rob

      I’ve never called someone who has poor taste in beer a racist.

  • Carl Crabkiller

    I guess I missed the beer revolution. On a visit to Minneapolis this summer we met some acquaintances at a trendy DT bar. The waitress gave us laminated beer menus – huge selection of beers with really odd names (pumpkin IPA, apple pale ale, etc. I asked “what’s good” – wrong question to ask a table of six beer snobs who seemed to know everything about beer, they argued about every facet of beer production from hops to water. I was just hot and thirsty so I asked if they served Budweiser – all conversation stopped and the whole table stared a me like I had declared support for ISIS. I feared being kidnapped and sent to a deprogramming facility.

    • …you can always go with the “it was an ironic beer order” defense.

      • jon

        Every one knows if you are going to make an ironic beer purchase you get a PBR….

        • Rob

          True. But I never feel ironic enough to actually drink it once I’ve ordered it…

        • That’s so 2014.

          • Tim

            Yeah, I thought it was Coors Light now?

          • Rob

            Yep, it came out on top in the 2016 “Which corporate beer tastes the most like bear whiz?” Sweepstakes.

          • John


          • Never drink anything ending in a “z’

          • John

            I have a not so secret love of Schlitz. I can’t think of anything else that ends in ‘z’ though.

      • rallysocks

        My son, who has great taste in beer and most booze (yes, I’ve done my job well) has recently been buying Miller Lite. I can’t tell if he’s being ironic or if he’s just trying to keep me away from the beer…

    • Rob

      You brought that on yourself – Budweiser is, after all, a cuss word in any refined social setting in which tastier, higher-quality beer options are available. Not sayin’ you should have ordered a flavored beer; my POV is that if I want an apple, I’ll cut one up and eat it with a slice of tangy cheese. But when there is a decent stout, IPA, or lager available, do your taste buds a favor. : )

      • FWIW: I ordered (and drank) a Budweiser (Czech version) just a couple years ago. I was on a train…traveling from Prague to Vienna.

        /It was “meh”

        • Rob

          So, were the ingredients of the Euro train version of Spudweiser the same as in the craptastic American version? Just Czechin’.

          • It was OK (as I recall) , a LOT better than the swill we have here…

            As an aside: Go to Prague. That city is fantastic.

          • Rob

            Have always wanted to there; it’s at the top of my European travel bucket list.

      • Jared

        Mixing cheese and fruits, I never! If I want cheese I’ll put it on a cracker or maybe a thin slice of bread.

    • P Gustaf

      Oh, you’re much worse than an ISIS supporter, you’re a BMC drinker! I say good day to you, sir.

      • NewsCut commenters are bringing their “A game” today.

  • Joe

    Yeah, but their politics still suck. As a former native, I can attest that when someone moves from Wisconsin to Minnesota, the average IQs of both states go down.

  • Zachary

    There is a scene in the Original Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” where Kirk is dressing down Scotty for starting a fight with the Klingons, and it wasn’t that the Klingon insulted Scotty, or insulted Kirk that provoked the fight, it was when the Klingon insulted the Enterprise.
    I guess it’s the same here… you can insult our People, or our Sports Team, but you better not insult our Beer.

    • Extra points awarded for Klingon and Tribbles references . Well played, sir.

      • Rob

        It’s been so long since I saw that episode, I don’t remember how it ended. But if the Klingons did make up with Scotty, my guess is they toasted with MacAllan’s or blood wine, not beer…

        • Zachary

          Scotty beamed the entire population of Tribbles onto the Klingon ship. “Where they will be no tribble at all”.

        • jon

          If you go back to watch it the Deep Space 9 time travel back to the trouble with tribbles is surprisingly good also. (they should both be on netflix.)

          • Rob

            Cool. Watched DS9 BITD; wouldn’t mind checking it out again.

  • I love how the writer gets two geographic shots in. Magary is not only a Minnesota native, but also a Marylander!

    Also, who won the NFC North last year? Just wondering. ;P

    • Jerry

      As a proud Minnesotan whe thinks we are better than Wisconsin in most ways, I must admit there are 2 subjects where we shouldn’t claim superiority. One is beer. The other is football.

    • Postal Customer

      “Also, who won the NFC North last year?”

      The team with the empty trophy case.

  • Barton

    I do like O’So, and stop there on the way to GB.

    But seriously, that response is ridiculous. The beer served at Lambeau Field is abysmal. Only every other vendor has something besides Miller and their minions. You may get lucky to get a Spotted Cow, but for those of us who prefer the dark stuff, this isn’t much of an improvement.

    (that said, I don’t really care for the selection at the new Vikings stadium either, but that is b/c I’m not a fan of the heavy hops, like every craft brewery in this great state seems to think is the best thing ever. Thank God they serve cider).

  • Tim

    I don’t know if we truly have better beer here or not, but you can at least buy it on a Sunday, or in a grocery/convenience store, in Wisconsin. So they are ahead of us in that regard, anyway.

  • X.A. Smith

    If the beers are so great, why don’t they sell out of state like Summit, Surly, etc.? Because it’s not that great.

    • Alex

      Actually, Surly doesn’t sell out of state all that often. Last I heard, the only out-of-state sales they did were in the Chicago market when they had a surplus.

      • X.A. Smith

        They are in five states, and they’re doubling their output over the next few months.

        • Alex

          I clearly stand corrected!

  • MrE85

    After the heartbreaking news the past few days, I welcome a good old-fashioned border beer brawl with our neighbors to the east. You bring the cheese, Wisconsin, we’ll bring the beer!

  • Rob

    It’s glarusingly obvious to me that New Glarus is over-rated.

  • Postal Customer

    At least they can buy beer on Sundays, like the rest of the civilized world.

  • BJ

    How many bars can a market support = craft brewers it can support

  • crystals

    If you’re an actual journalist getting this upset about Magary’s long-standing tradition of criticizing each and every NFL team for anything & everything under the sun, maybe you need to find a new beat. Or just work a little bit harder on having a sense of humor. It’s Deadspin, for god’s sake.

    • I don’t think anybody is upset about anything. I think everyone’s jousting in good fun.

      • crystals

        In that case, I’m all for it 🙂

        (And to be clear, I’m not a Magary apologist – I went to college with him. He’s…an acquired taste.)

  • DavidG

    We’re so close to peak beer here that three of the local breweries have announced expansion plans in the last month or so.

  • White Rabbit

    I got news for those of you claiming that New Glarus is only “OK”; Spotted Cow is one of the standards by which all Cream Ales are measured. If you are having a Cream Ale judged, it gets compared to New Glarus Spotted Cow. For a beer that isn’t sold outside of a state’s border to be amongst the standard which all others are measured, that’s not “OK”, that’s outstanding.
    Perhaps it’s your tastebuds that are only “OK” from drinking whatever swill dominates the Minnesotan markets…Oh, yeah, that’s right it’s Budweiser’s “Sex in a canoe”.

  • BJ

    >beer drinker is a potential craft brewer then


    A craft brewery and craft brew distribution are different. A perfect example of the first is Wicked Wort Brewing Company in Robbinsdale, the later is Surly. Surly started with distribution in mind then opened it’s doors, first in Brooklyn Park then later build that huge Minneapolis site.

    So how many beers can a liquor store support 50-200 varieties of beers? I don’t know. I would guess that number is pretty small, maybe 10-20 brands with each brand having 4-6 ‘varieties’. Enough market penetration to get volume – I think 2-3 ‘regional’ (distribution over most of a state) craft breweries could really survive with only 1-2 ‘local’ (distribution in the cities around its location) breweries eking out a living.