Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Craft Beer Week returns

Nolan Swenson / Advance-Titan Patrick McHugh stands next to the vat where part of the brewing of City Wide: Cold IPA takes place.

Oshkosh Craft Beer Week returned for its third year on April 4-14, bringing a new collaborative beer from Fox River Brewing Company, Fifth Ward Brewing Company and Bare Bones Brewery: City Wide Cold IPA.

The event was first organized in 2020 by Discover Oshkosh; however, due to COVID-19 its first year ended up being in 2022. This makes 2024 the completion of the three-year brewing cycle, which saw Bare Bones and Fifth Ward handle the brewing process in 2022 and 2023.

Andrew Roth, the brewmaster at FRBC said that the purpose was to promote events beyond EAA through Discover Oshkosh’s promotion of restaurants, breweries and minor events. After the process of organization, COVID-19 struck, canceling further events.

“The idea was to go promote more things in Oshkosh than just the big events,” Roth said. “That was coming from Discover Oshkosh, who works well with local businesses to promote what the city has to offer. With three breweries and the history of Oshkosh in brewing, it made sense to do something with it … by the time we got to that point [of development] large-scale events were no longer allowed.”

This year the beer was brewed at FRBC, who made three batches, making a total of around 1,100 gallons of City Wide. Roth said when deciding the style of beer, they had to ask themselves several questions.

According to Roth, these questions were, “What styles are up and coming; what styles represent all breweries as a whole; what do we feel like playing around with; and what can the brewer actually accomplish with their systems on hand.”

That resulted in the creation of the City Wide Cold IPA, which Discover Oshkosh describes as “featuring West coast IPA vibes, fermented with a lager strain in the low 60s. This produces a beer that accentuates the crisp aspect while letting the aroma and flavors of the hops flow through … [bringing] a nice blend of tropical fruits.”

Patrick McHugh, a brewer at FRBC, said that this year’s beer is something that many people have not tried but will still find familiar with its India pale ale roots.

“People are trying different things,” he said. “Most people around Oshkosh have never tried a Cold IPA. It’s a new style, probably been around for four years … traditional India pale lager was the thing, making an India pale ale with lager yeast. This is lager yeast but it’s fermented at ale temperatures.

“It’s slightly different and leans more into West coast IPA,” McHugh said. “I’ve had guys try it and say that ‘it reminds me of a light beer.’ It’s a new style but it’s something people are familiar with.”

McHugh said that the event has received widespread support from the community, making his efforts as a brewer fulfilling.

“It’s awesome; every year you see people getting out and buying the beer,” McHugh said. “It’s fulfilling as a brewer to see people getting out in the community. All the bars and restaurants around town embrace it and are excited to bring the beer in no matter what the style.”

Cullen Dunn works alongside McHugh and said that the cold IPA is a good starting point for those unfamiliar with IPAs, since it’s less bitter than others.

“In general, our IPAs are leaning less and less bitter,” Dunn said. “That’s the challenge with selling IPAs to people who don’t drink them, there is some bitterness to them that is not there in other styles.”

Dunn said that another element to a cold IPA is its crispness at the end, comparable to other beers such as Coors Light.

“A cold IPA is a nice mixture of them. It has bitterness from a regular IPA, but it also has crispness like a lager beer. It’s not the least bitter we’ve made, but it’s clean and crisp.”

When introducing new varieties of beer compared to basic classics, it may be difficult to get people to try new beers. Dunn said that despite this challenge, they attempt to make beer for everyone and remain true to the history of beer while also introducing new varieties.

“We split the difference a little bit,” he said. “From a production standpoint, we do something true to what we want to do to stay cutting edge and stay true to our heritage. We almost always have a lager beer of some type on tap … More of what we’re doing is trying something new and different, getting people trying new stuff.”

Looking forward to future events from the breweries, there will be a celebration for the 175 years of Craft Brewing in Oshkosh. This will feature FRBC, Bare Bones and Fifth Ward releasing several different bocks.

Bock is a style of dark heavy beer that comes from the German style of brewing. For the event, every brewery will feature a different aspect of the beer’s history. Fifth Ward has theirs on tap currently, which is a German bock lager. On April 20, Bare Bones Brewery will release Peoples Bock, which is made similar to the bock from People’s Brewing in Oshkosh during the 1960s.

Dunn said that by highlighting the past of Oshkosh brewing, they can connect with community members who’ve played a role in preserving that history.

“That’s not only us working with other brewers in town,” Dunn said. “We’re also working with a guy who’s been involved in Oshkosh beers for 20 years now, Lee Reiherzer. He’s basically Oshkosh’s beer historian … So that has brought us together.”

FRBC will finish the collection at the end of the summer with its pre-Prohibition style bock. Until the next releases over the summer, the Oshkosh community has access to the City Wide Cold IPA. 

Due to the limited supply, Roth said, “We will be out of it in a month at most.” So if you want to try the beer you will have to act fast. Its availability is shown on the Visit Oshkosh website, both canned and on tap.

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