Craft Beer in Wisconsin

–submitted by Mary Borland; photo by Will Anzenberger

Robin Shepard 8 24 16This week, at the Inn on the Park, club members and guests heard how and why craft beer has become so popular. Guest speaker Robin Shepard provided a brief description of the historical context of brewing in Wisconsin followed by an overview of the trends in Wisconsin’s current craft brewing industry. The biggest trend being about flavor trends.

The first Wisconsin brewery goes back to the 1830’s in the Mineral Point area before Wisconsin was known better for their dairy industry. Wisconsin had good water and rich soil for making beer, and immigration patterns (mostly Germans) brought beer making to Wisconsin.

Robin shared with Rotarians that there are more breweries than ever in the country, though the amount of beer being produced in the U.S. is declining and the amount of consumption is down.  Wisconsinites consumer their share of beer though, coming in at #6 in the country.

The largest growth in beer categories is in the craft beer category. It has grown by 12.8% this past year which equates to $23 billion a year!  Madison, WI rivals Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and San Diego, CA as a city of craft brewers.  Seven out of ten beer tap handles in a given Madison restaurant are for local brewers.

Rotarians also learned today that there are over 140 different styles of beers today. The big trend in beers is for different flavors — from sours, hops, malts to barrel-aged beers and beyond.

With craft beers, it is about quality, not quantity. Robin closed by saying “beer drinking is about the experience around it.”


*Robin Shepard currently serves as the Executive Director for the North Central Cooperative Extension Association (NCCEA), an organization comprised of 12 Universities from as many Midwestern states. His work also involves representing member universities at the Regional and Federal levels with partners and policy makers. He currently has an appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of Life Sciences Communication (UW Madison).

Beyond his primary academic and administrative responsibilities Robin is perhaps better known for his beer writing; his historic brewery walks of Madison and Milwaukee; beer dinners and tastings; and numerous presentations on brewing and industry trends.  His book “Wisconsin‘s Best Breweries and Brewpubs: Searching for the Perfect Pint” was given the top book prize in 2001 by the North American Guild of Beer Writers. He’s also written two additional books about the brewing industry. Robin is often asked to contribute to popular press coverage of the brewing industry in Wisconsin with more than 700 beer reviews, travel articles and stories.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Watch the video here.

The Forward Festival

–submitted by Mary Helen Becker; photo by Will Anzenberger

Younkle Matt 8 17 16.Matt Younkle, the inventor of Turbo Tap, a device which enables craft beers to be poured quicker and more efficiently, described this year’s Forward Fest, which will take place from Aug. 18 to Aug. 25 in various venues around Madison, including the Madison Children’s Museum, MMOCA, the Madison Central Library, and the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. In 2010 he co-founded the Forward Technology Conference. In a few short years it has grown to the 44 events available this year.

Open to the public, the Forward Fest emphasizes cross-connection, promotion, and opportunities to interact with others. The goal is to make Madison the best place possible to start a business. Several companies are sponsors, and the event is produced by many volunteers.

They support coworking, a way for a new business to have an address and a place to work. Young companies are the primary sources of new jobs. Rotarians were given a schedule of events which undoubtedly features something of interest to everyone!

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Watch it online HERE.

Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photos by Will Anzenberger

Good, Better, ____.   Never let it _______.  ‘Til your Good is _________.  and your Better is _________.  Fill in the blanks from Carl Olson’s presentation this week.

Carl, “our bring your kids to Rotary today” speaker was a terrific hit with all, young and old.  Clap Once.

He’s a motivation speaker, magician and all around positive guy with this message…Young folks can be whatever they want to be…with self confidence, being around great folks and being ready to take on the world.  Clap twice.

He entertained us with a message…with card tricks, fire in a book, and best of all, the magic plastic glass…Clap 3 times.

Check out the photos that follow.  Sorry you missed it.

And if you missed our meeting this week, watch the video here.


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The UW in the 1960s

–submitted by Rich Leffler; photo by Will Anzenberger

Stu Levitan (2)Stu Levitan offered an impressionistic, kaleidescopic, sprightly, and, most importantly, insightful history of the UW in the tumultuous 1960s. He began with an aerial photo of the campus in 1962. No Humanities Building, no Elvehjem Museum, no Vilas Hall, Helen C. White, Sellery, Ogg, and Witte halls. All were added during the 1960s as the campus burgeoned.

He mentioned people who were students at the time: Dick Cheney, Tommy Thompson, Jim Doyle, Ed Garvey, Shirley Abrahamson, David Prosser, Barbara Crabb, Paul Soglin, David Maraniss, Andrew Goodman (for one semester), Steve Ambrose, Dave Zweifel, Ben Sidran, Pat Richter]and Joyce Carol Oates. They became leaders in their professions and some still are. Stu also spoke of the people who shaped the decade (and Stu holds a minority view among historians that it is individuals who make history): the aforementioned Soglin, the great Fred Harvey Harrington (who as president “super-sized” the UW), Robben Fleming, William Sewell, Ed Young, Milt Bruhn, Richter, Ron VanderKellen and Crazy Legs Hirsch.

But the sixties are remembered for one big thing: the student anti-war activism. The origins of that activism were, said Stu, in the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when students went down South at considerable risk to fight against racial segregation. They demonstrated a deep “level of commitment and fearlessness.” Students who challenged the Klan were not intimidated by university administrators. Antiwar activism was, “to a considerable extent shaped” by the civil rights movement. When the first sit-in took place to oppose the draft, it was to protest student deferments that increased the exposure of non-students–the poor and minorities. Resistance to the war, though it had an element of self-interest, was also driven by principle. Peaceful resistance yielded to the Dow “riot” in fall 1967, which Stu called “the single most important political event of the decade. It marked the end of the summer of love and the start of the days of rage.” There was a cost to all this: the Regents, once defenders of the university, “took the lead in attacking” students, faculty, and administrators. The UW lost support among the people of Wisconsin, support that is still not recovered. When Stu asked an activist if the demonstrations were worth it, he answered that the more important question is were the demonstrations necessary? Stu is still working on the answer to that question. Watch for his conclusion in his book to be published next year by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Watch the video HERE.

Animals Need Heroes Too

–submitted by Stan Inhorn


Dr. Mark Markel, Dean of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) described the current status of the School, as well as the plans for expansion currently underway. One of the newer veterinary schools in the U.S., the SVM has become one of the premier schools in the country. During the past 10 years, the SVM has been rated in the top five research schools in the country. The SVM is particularly known for its research in infectious diseases – viral, bacterial, and parasitic.

The SVM is also highly rated for its teaching innovations. Each year, the School receives over 1,300 applications and selects 90 bachelor-degree students into the four-year program. It also maintains a large graduate-degree program. Over half the veterinarians in Wisconsin are graduates of the UW School. About 50% of graduates limit their practices to small animals, 25% include large animals, and 25% go into other aspects of practice, including government service, research, and industry. The SVM is an innovator in creating close to 200 teaching modules that permit self-learning, which will be made available to other schools

The SVM operate a large clinical facility, as it sees more than 25,000 patients a year from throughout the Midwest and beyond. With practitioners in more than 20 specialties, an animal with a primary disease may also be seen for other medical conditions at the same hospital visit.

Since clinical space is not adequate, the SVM is planning a $150 million expansion. More space is also needed for research and teaching in order to bring all parts of the School’s mission into one facility and to allow new teaching and research programs to expand. An example of a new service-teaching program is called WisCare, which offers animal care to homeless people. An expanding research program is one that permits the influenza and viral disease experts to study  zika and other emerging viral epidemics.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  CLICK to watch the video.

Wine Fellowship Event July 24

–submitted by Mike Wilson


Twelve Madison Rotary Wine Fellowshippers met at Steve and Meryl Mixtacki’s home on Sunday, July 24, to taste summer wines each couple had brought for the group to try. Steve and Mike Wilson had additional wines so that “pairings” could be arranged with the wines brought along.

We tried two Methode Champenoise – a Gruet brut made in Albuquerque from grapes grown near Truth and Consequences in New Mexico, and a champagne -Taittinger.  Both were excellent, but the Gruet for its price (less than half of the Champagne) was the winner.


Photo 1: John & Jane Wegenke; Photo 2: Mary & Robert Borland; Photo 3: Meryl & Steve Mixtacki

Next we tried 3 whites.  A 2014 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend, a 2012 Adam Alsation Auxerrois (Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio equivalent), and a 2014 Artesa limited release Chardonnay.  This was the flight that was most loved.  The first two wines were inexpensive, but the Artesa has only just been released by the winery and is not listed on the website but expect it to be about $40 (given the 2013 price).

The next flight was cooled Premier Cru Beaujolais, two of the lighter versions – a Chiroubles and a Regnie. After that we had an Artesa Pinot Noir and a Skouras (2012 Megas Oenas) – a Greek blend of Aghiorghitiko and Cabernet Sauvignon – and I rated them both as excellent.

We ended the evening with a Moscato (Piedmonte) that was cold, and sweet, with the typical low alcohol content (5-6% only).

A great time was had by all, and the best loved wines were the Gruet sparkler, Artesa Chardonnay, Pine Ridge (Chenin Blanc and Viognier), and Alsation Auxerrois (Pinot Gris).

“When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go DOWNTOWN”

–submitted by Bob Dinndorf; photo by Mary O’Brien

Susaan Schmitz 7 20 16A musical introduction of the Rotary Club’s program was announced as guest presenter Susan Schmitz joined Bob Dinndorf as songleader for Petula Clark’s Downtown, accompanied by keyboard artist Lynn Phelps.

Downtown Madison Inc (DMI) started over forty years ago as urban sprawl to the east and west began to intensify. Three of DMI’s four founders were Rotarians and members of the Greater Madison Chamber board. As DMI grew it separated from the Chamber to become a self-sustaining entity. Two of its signature initiatives have successfully entered new generations: Frostiball is in the care of Overture and Paddle n’ Portage is carried on by Isthumus.

Today DMI boasts 500 members and administers assessed funds generated by the Central Business Improvement District which includes businesses around Capitol Square and along State Street. DMI continually advocates for a vital, healthy Downtown among city staff, alders, the mayor, county exec, UW Madison, Edgewood College, Madison College, Madison Police, Greater Madison Chamber and the Convention & Visitors Bureau, Madison Regional Economic Partnership, churches, neighborhood associations and many other individuals and organizations concerned about downtown Madison.

Bounded on the east by the Yahara River and on the west by Camp Randall, the originally platted in July 1836 for the City of Madison is used today as bounds for Downtown Madison, Inc. (DMI). The University of Wisconsin and the State Capitol Building, connected by State Street, (along of course, with the Rotary Club of Madison) were and continue to be anchors for Downtown.

Susan Schmitz, Executive Director of DMI, underscored the importance of downtown when she said there are more people living in urban areas than rural areas for the first time in history. She then painted by number a picture of the current “State of the Downtown.” A sampling:

  • Since 2000, downtown population has increased from 22,165 to more than 25,000
  • 3.56% apartment vacancy rate drives rental rates and construction
  • 93.9% of downtown residents are renters
  • 52.7% of Madison residents as a whole are renters
  • 40,000 meals were served to homeless people in 2014 by downtown churches
  • 560 places for day care are available downtown at Red Caboose and Creative Learning. More is needed
  • 44% of downtown employees work in public administration, 12% in hospitality, 8.2% in professional/technical occupations
  • 10.8% office vacancy is declining and needs to be in the 7-8% range
  • 40% of downtown businesses are classified as food and beverage businesses; a consistent number since 1998. Bars are not taking over!
  • 11.7% is the increase in Metro Bus ridership since 1010.
  • 149,385 bicyclists have been counted by the Eco-totem counters on Madison trails; an increase from 48,537

Much more can be added. Susan urged Rotarians to contact their alders to let them know our priorities and concerns so that they continue to make wise policy to govern the city.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Watch the video here.