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Exclusive: Jim McCabe, Milwaukee Brewing Co. staff talk MKE IPA

Wednesday, January 31, 2018   (0 Comments)
Business Journal

Patrick Leary



Throughout the year, Milwaukee craft breweries release new creations to generate buzz for their brands and keep their loyal customers satisfied and intrigued.

But for Milwaukee Brewing Company and Jim McCabe, who founded the core city brewery in 1997, the release of MKE IPA is much more than that. McCabe and his staff felt so good about the new beer, that they slapped their three iconic letters, and the letters of Milwaukee, right on the label.

"A lot of the history of our branding was all of these great Milwaukee and Wisconsin stories, and it's always fun to have stories behind beers," McCabe said. "We just felt good enough about this beer and what it represents for the progress and the evolution of our brewery. This is the beer that's so good we stuck our name right on it."

The beer isn't MKE's first IPA, as Hop Happy and its heavier, tea-infused offspring Hop Freak have been around for awhile now. But as McCabe is quick to point out, the beer they're releasing Friday has citra and mosaic hops in it that weren't available to them back then.

"This is the culmination of some of our brewers' best efforts in the IPA realm for what the current palate is," McCabe said.

One of those brewers, Andy Kochan, agreed that the beer represents "where the trends currently are" in the beer industry.

"... I tell people, we've always wanted to come up with a Midwest IPA," Kochan said.

The connection between the new beer and the region goes deeper than the hops and the name. The beer's bottle and case art not only brightens any beer shelf or fridge, but it also directly evokes the Milwaukee flag.

"What the flag symbolizes is the investment in the community and everybody coming together under one symbol, and that's the message we wanted to spread," said Hannah Falk, the brewery's marketing director.

The release's timing also coincides with IPA's "moment in the sun" as the beer of choice for craft breweries, according to McCabe.

McCabe wouldn't go so far as to say the new release is a reaction to increased competition in Milwaukee's craft beer scene, but he did say that the craft beer rush the city has seen drives innovation in general.

"If you're in the craft beer industry you've got to relish the competition and the innovation and not feel intimidated by the fact that you've got to throw your beer up against other people's beers," McCabe said. "Even though we're an established, 20-year brewery here, the challenge of continuing to evolve with Milwaukee's palate is part of the fun."

The founder is confident he's found a winner in that race.

"This is the one we're all going to at the end of the day," McCabe said. "Is it competitive? Sure. Does this keep our hat in the ring? Of course."

MKE will unveil their new offering at a release party at the Milwaukee Ale House, 233 N. Water St., starting at 6 p.m. Friday.

"We'll go all night," Falk said. "Anyone can stop in whenever and give it a try, and it will be on tap for the rest of the weekend and from here on out."

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