Brace yourselves folks. This one is going to be long and in two parts.
This is a story about the NFL and beer, two of my favorite things in life. But even before that it is a story about two friends going on an adventure
It started innocently enough several months ago when the current NFL schedule was released. My friend Brian, (and contributor to this site), noted the Oakland Raiders would be playing the Green Bay Packers this season. This is not an event that occurs frequently, every four years to be precise. This time the game would be hosted by Green Bay. Brian, a true black and silver Raiders fan from Oakland, and I initially decided we would have to find a bar or pub to watch the game. As we discussed this problem of logistics the genesis of an idea occurred and it hinged on one important fact. We are "respectable adults" with income. Why go to the bar when we could actually go to the game instead. It was agreed upon as a worthy cause and we turned our hands to planning this jaunt to the Midwest.
|Our final destination|
December took forever and then just showed up. An uneventful flight brought us to Milwaukee. A quick conversation with the friendly woman at the car rental got us the wheels for our northward leg up the western coast of Lake Michigan. A stop north of Milwaukee netted us butter burgers at Culvers. We arrived at our destination as the sun was setting, the sky growing a deepening shade of pink.
Green Bay is a pleasant Midwestern town on the shores of Lake Michigan, cut through by the Fox River. Lambeau Field dominates the landscape, the decorations and paraphernalia hammers home the fact that the Green Bay Packers are not only the only show in town but beloved for it. For a lifelong Packer fan though, the trip to Lambeau Field is the hajj to Mecca. Curly and Vince are the saints of Packer fandom standing before the entrance of the one's namesake and where the other fashioned a team and lead them to halcyon days. All fans have their totems, but for Packer fans 1265 Lombardi Avenue is their crown jewel.
Lambeau Field is a cathedral to Packers football and many Packers fans take pride that they have a stake in the team. The cynic in me lauds the fact that the Green and Gold propaganda machine is in full force to reinforce the believers and proselytize to the unwashed. Even Brian, the diehard Raiders fan, found it impressive. We meet up with Justin (commenter JZee1) and his family and for ten dollars each we toured through the Packers Hall of Fame, a celebration of past and current glories and Packer greats. A view of the four Lombardi trophies in the sanctum of the Hall of Fame concluded our visit for this day.
|It was dark outside when we walked in.|
Instead of retiring to Curly’s Pub, the bar /restaurant located at the stadium, the group headed across town down by the river to Titletown Brewing Company. A former railway depot right located by the still functioning railroad it has been repurposed as a brewery and restaurant. For the last month leading up to this weekend I had been looking forward to visiting this establishment. In particular one beer had captivated my imagination, the RooSession Ale, due to my fondness of English style bitters and I couldn't wait to try it.
When we arrived at the brewery the place was packed with Packer fans and locals, with a waiting time of two hours for eating. Fortunately the bar was open and we quickly sidled up to it and ordered our first round, me asking for the coveted RooSession ale, Brian an Expect the Wurst Amber, and Justin a Hopasaurus Rex IPA. Our barman, sporting a green Clay Matthews jersey, quickly filled several perfect pints with our selections. The RooSession Ale was off a nitro pour, it was creamy, drinkable, with a slightly bitter tea aftertaste. I wasn't disappointed, but it would turn out to not be one of the evenings beer highlights.
We quickly fell into conversation about the pros and cons of our respective selections, the joy and insanity of hops, and our favorite beers. Eventually a table cleared and we were seated. I ordered an elk burger which would come to haunt me over the course of the next twelve hours, but it was excellent while eating it. The piece de resistance though was the giant baked pretzel. This thing was enormous but still incredibly tasty with a crispy outer crust and chewy inside. Perfect for soaking up the pints we had already put down.
We didn't quite make it through the draught board, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Among the three us beer drinkers we did sample most of the draught board. Standouts for the evening included the Hopasaurus Rex, Dark Helmet Schwartzbier and St. Norbert’s Abbey Ale. We departed the brewery with full stomachs and a thirst mostly quenched but Brian and I made one final stop at a small market to pick up to sixers of Capital Brewery’s Winter Skal and Wisconsin Amber to tide us through for the rest of the evening. Game day was tomorrow.