Sprecher brewmaster Craig Burge tastes one of the first bottles of ReFresh Button IPA to roll through the packaging line.
Sprecher brewmaster Craig Burge tastes one of the first bottles of ReFresh Button IPA to roll through the packaging line.

7 easy-drinking Milwaukee patio beers

If you’re like me, the race to the top of the IBU and ABV charts has you seeking brewers with a lighter touch without compromising taste.

While we’re stuck at home and the weather finally seems to be starting to cooperate, let’s call them patio beers.

Sprecher brewmaster Craig Burge knows just what I’m talking about.
When I asked him about the brewery’s new special release, ReFresh Button IPA, he said, "the goal was to keep it under the 20 IBU mark and we did that. The whole thing was to make it refreshing, so we didn’t want it to be too malty, either."

There is malt – pilsen, pale and dextrin – in a mash bill that also has oats and wheat. And there are three kinds of hops: Mosaic, Centennial and what Burge calls, "kind of the secret weapon," Zythos, a proprietary hop blend that adds apricot and pineapple and other tropical notes to this easy-drinking 5 percent ABV beer.

(PHOTO: Sprecher Brewing Company)

"All the hopping was on the back end," Burge says, "none in the kettle. It was cool up brew this. We were able to use some techniques we don’t don’t usually use: No kettle bittering hops, just whirlpool and dry hopping. And it was a full double dry hop."

The flavor is juicy, but light, thanks to the hops, which are balanced with the malts to create a beer that isn’t bitter, isn’t malty and is, as Burge notes, "something you can drink more than one of."

The first batch of beer was being bottled and put into 400 cases on Wednesday, so it should start appearing at local retailers by perhaps next week.

Some other relatively low ABV local brews we’ve been enjoying lately:

Third Space’s Happy Place Midwest Pale Ale, which clocks in at 5.3 percent, and which boasts a beautiul body, juicy citrus and a lovey color.

Thankfully, it’s becoming so widely available that even at places like Miller Park – when it reopens – you can enjoy what’s turned into one of the best and most reliable hometown beers.

Gathering Place’s Treffpunkt k…

You could own Ryan Braun's condo.
You could own Ryan Braun's condo. (Photo: Realtor.com)

Brewers' Braun puts his Milwaukee condo up for sale

Who wants to live in Braun's former Milwaukee digs?! 

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Brewers’ star Ryan Braun – who is in the final year of his current contract in Milwaukee – has listed his Downtown condo for sale.

It's listed at $1.15 million.

The three-bedroom, two-bath unit in Kilbourn Tower, 923 E. Kilbourn Ave., is on the 21st floor and has stunning Lake Michigan views. It also comes with two parking spaces.

The condo sprawls across 2,300 square feet in the 33-story, 74-unit building, which was put up in 2005.

Braun bought the condo for just $635,500 in 2013, the paper's Jack Flemming reported.

With the baseball season still questionable right now and Braun at the end of his contract, the listing, which you can see here at Realtor.com, suggests he doesn’t expect to be here much longer.

If there’s no season at all due to the pandemic shutdown, the former NL MVP could potentially never again take the field in a Brewers uniform.

But that's not a given says my former OnMilwaukee colleague Drew Olson, who is now afternoon radio host on 97.3 The Game.

"Braun hinted at the Brewers On Deck event and even during spring training that this could be his last year," Olson said.

"But Mark Attanasio is very fond of him. With this shortened season, he’s gotten a sneak preview of retirement.

"It isn’t out of the question that he could come back at a reduced price in 2021, especially if the NL adopts the DH. Right now, it seems about 50-50 that he will play beyond this season. If the Brewers make the playoffs, he may want to come back for another try."

According to the Times, Braun – a Los Angeles native – also owns a $4.85 million home in Malibu.

The Milwaukee property is listed with realtor Chris Corley.

MobCraft collaborated with Bottleshare on this Georgia-Wisconsin ale for a good cause.
MobCraft collaborated with Bottleshare on this Georgia-Wisconsin ale for a good cause.

MobCraft collaborates on a Georgia-Wisconsin ale for a good cause

MobCraft Beer has teamed with Bottleshare – a nonprofit offering emergency financial aid to employees of breweries, wineries and distilleries facing hardships that prevent them from working – on a new collaboration beer to benefit the Brewers Association and Bottleshare’s own Believe in Beer Relief Fund.

The Milwaukee brewery and Georgia nonprofit are working together to brew and distribute Believe in Beer Fruited Sour Ale.

This is the first time Bottleshare has partnered with a brewer to make a beer with proceeds benefiting the fund.

The project, says MobCraft President and Co-Founder Henry Schwartz, grew out of a previous collaboration the groups were partnering on that ended up getting canceled by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Instead, Bottleshare stepped in to help create a digital tip jar for MobCraft employees.

When the two took part in an Instagram Live, Bottleshare Founder and Executive Director Christopher Glenn announced the creation of the Believe in Beer Relief Fund, which led Schwartz to suggest the collaboration brew using Georgia peaches. Door County cherries were also added to the mix.

"When the Mobcraft/Bottleshare seed was planted, we didn't just water it, we threw as much Miracle-Gro at it as possible," said Glenn.

The first, ahem, fruit of the Believe in Beer Blending Barrel Series is MobCraft’s Fruited Sour Ale Oak Barrel Aged Blending Barrels Edition No. 1, blended by MobCraft Director of Barrel Operations, Adam Thomas.

The 6.5 percent ABV golden ale was created by blending four beers aged in oak barrels for varying periods – a sour amber, a brettanomyces-fermented golden ale, a sour golden base from 2018, and a mixed culture Belgian tripel – and then re-fermenting it on the peaches and cherries.

The 1,000 pounds of peaches needed were donated by Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley, Georgia, and Lautenback’s Orchard near Fish Creek donated half of the 800 pounds of cherries required.

Schwartz expects the new ale to be releas…

Newly painted fire hydrants in Milwaukee are getting color-coded bonnets.
Newly painted fire hydrants in Milwaukee are getting color-coded bonnets.

Why the green paint on Milwaukee's red fire hydrants?

In my City of Milwaukee neighborhood, I've noticed that Department of Public Works crews have been out painting fire hydrants. Some of them have been getting green tops.

So, I went to Facebook, posted a photo and tagged some friends who are or have been firefighters, and I got some responses (along with the usual slate of joke comments).

Some friends knew the answer, but, the official word from the city's Water Works Water Distribution Manager Dave Goldapp is that the hydrants with the green bonnets help firefighters responding to an emergency quickly identify a hydrant connected to a water main that is 12 inches or larger.

These are hydrants with, "the capability to support and maintain additional hookups to meet fire suppression needs. The larger water mains provide higher flow and volume than smaller mains."

According to Goldapp, the city began painting the bonnets of hydrants connected to larger water mains green in 2018, and expects the project to be completed this year.

The city has painted 470 hydrants – some all red and some red and green – so far this year.

Shout out to Ryan Day, too, who was the first to comment on the Facebook post about the colored-bonnet system.

His quick Google skills turned up this key, which retired Milwaukee Fire Department Deputy Chief Jim Ley says is a National Fire Protection Association standard:

Red / Class C signifies 499 gallons per minute or less, which is enough capacity for a two-story house that's 50x50 feet and 20-feet tall.

Orange / Class B: 500-999 gallons per minute, for a four-story house, 50x50 feet and 40 feet tall.

Green / Class A: 1,000-1,499 gallons per minute, for a four-story house, 61x61 feet and 40 feet tall.

Light blue / Class AA: 1,500 gallons per minute or more, for a four-story house, 70x70 feet and 40 feet tall.

According to this post, the coding system is voluntary.

"NFPA 291 is a 'recommended practice;' thus, its color chart is not enforceable unless a jurisdiction determines that i…