I don’t think it would be a shock to anyone to learn that I visited a brewery for my birthday. Though, it may be a surprise that I went to one in Wisconsin. My wife and I tried something different this year. We each decided on a miniature road trip and I decided I wanted to have lunch in Hudson and then work our way up the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix river. While we were in town, it only made sense to follow our lunch with a couple of drinks at Hop & Barrel Brewing.
It was a hot spring day, one of those days that a winter acclimatized body just can’t handle. We’d just eaten at the nearby Pier 500 and taken a walk around Lakefront Park, and an air conditioned taproom was just what we needed. Our arrival was timed to coincide near the opening of their taproom. This would give us the most time for our trip, but it also resulted in the place nearly to ourselves. After ordering my usual flight and a non-alcoholic drink for my wife we settled on a spot at the counter that wrapped around the pentagonal windowed front of the building.
If you look at my photographs you’ll see that their color is lime green. They took this and ran with it! They had the following in lime green: stools, table joinery, their logo everywhere you looked, a truck in the parking lot with a HOP BBL license plate, and mash paddles holding up some of the table tops. Even their pallet mover was decked out in lime green! Beside the main area that was full of natural light, they had a back room with picnic tables with a single open garage door. There is a surprising amount of space in the building, so I’m sure it gets pretty hopping (pun intended) at peak times.
Besides my flight of four I also had three half pints of beer for a total of six different brews. It was my birthday after all! In order of their appearance: Saint Black Lager, Unintended Consequences Red IPA, Common Bonds Imperial Lager, Episode 2 Session Double IPA, Stupendous Idiots Imperial Stout, and Minnesconsin Lager. Out of all of them there are two that I would order again. Saint Black was malt forward with an excellent mouthfeel and a sticky caramel flavor. It had a great roasted malt quality that I really enjoyed. Unintended Consequences was the perfect match for the heat. Hop forward with notes of stone fruit and a clean bitterness. Juicy and delicious!
Our visit to Hop & Barrel was nice and relaxing. We took things slow and discussed how we were going to take maximum advantage of the summer before we would welcome our future daughter into the world. It remained quiet in the taproom, which wasn’t surprising for a Tuesday afternoon. When we left there were a handful of patrons at the bar and a couple of folks at the high tops. They are a nice addition to historic downtown Hudson and a splendid way to enjoy your birthday.