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Duesterbeck's Brewing Company

Elkhorn, WI

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Alcohol Blogger- Duesterbeck's Brewing Company- Outside

Duesterbeck’s Brewing Company is located in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, just a short twenty minute drive from Burlington, WI and a little under an hour drive from Madison, WI. Set amongst plenty of cornfields, this once-upon-a-time farm has been converted into a uniquely Wisconsin Brewery that keeps getting additions every time we visit. What was once a 150 year-old farm has now been updated to include various outbuildings, a patio, and all of the amenities you come to expect from a modern-day brewery.

For some reason, despite the sign, we always miss the turn for Duesterbeck’s. Whether that’s because you just see a farm out of the corner of your eye and just keep driving, or you think the driveway leads up to a residential home and you must be in the wrong place, who knows? The home is actually on the same lot as the brewery and may be affiliated with the brewery (perhaps the owners) but this isn’t an instance of the brewery being what may have been part of the house at one point (see Hubbleton Brewing Company). While close, the brewery really stands apart as its own space.

Classically bright red sheet metal and white trim really pop against the early summer fields. On our initial two visits to this brewery, what was the barn served as the only building in this bright red. It had been converted to a tasting room, production floor, and kitchen. Since those visits (it’s been about a year) an additional outbuilding with garage doors, dedicated solely to seating has been added. Next, there’s a cute little gift shop that sits off to the right that has swag, home decor, and some Wisconsin-made products such as candles and cheese curds. The patio that was under construction in the back of the tasting room is now fully finished with a stage that has lighting and speakers included, like a real-deal stage. To the right of that back patio yet another outbuilding is in the works that will serve as the new production space. Not only has the seating area effectively tripled in size since we were there last but the buildings have made this feel more like a beer complex where you have tons of choices based on the kind of night you want to have. The most unique “building” is the Corn Crib Cabana, which might not offer tons of shade or privacy, but is definitely one-of-a-kind in terms of space that you can reserve for a group.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Wine Beer Spirits Blogger- Duesterbeck' Brewing- Corn Cabana
The Corn Cabana

Inside the tasting room, plenty of natural light floods through windows and there are around six dining room tables that allow anywhere from four to six people to grab seats. The light fixtures are made to look like old windmill fans or wooden tillers which are my favorite fixtures that we’ve come across. To the right the space is taken up by a bar where you order your food and drinks (no seating at the bar). There’s a small shelf dedicated to swag right outside the entrances to the bathrooms and from that alcove you can catch glimpses of the production floor. The tables are all a little different, since they wanted to stick with the farmhouse feel, it can give a little bit of a cobbled together vibe but it’s hardly noticeable.

We grabbed a flight of six for $15 ($2.50/beer). Each sample is 5oz so we put this on the cheaper end of the spectrum if you’re looking to do a tasting. Duesterbeck’s has pizzas and snacks, including the largest pretzel we’ve come across, but they stick to beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages - no full bar. The pretzel was worth trying because it’s so large (also big pretzels are Hannah’s kryptonite) but the queso left a lot to be desired. Our guest, a family member we’ll call The Contractor, met us for some nice family time and to throw a few back, adding notes here and there amidst telling his usual hilarious stories.

On to the beer!

Bees Be Crazy (6.0% ABV) - This Hefeweizen was a heavily clouded gold and had a surprisingly hoppy aroma. While Hannah got notes of clove, I did not pick up on much past the hops. There was a little bready malt sweetness when smelling but I got a lot of those floral hop notes, too much for the style. On taste, there was plenty of doughy malt and a lot of residual sweetness which left the impression of sweet grain cereal. The finish was pleasant with notes of delicate honey. I would skip this because it was too hoppy for the style and didn’t have those flavors I crave when drinking a Hefeweizen.

Nutty Bill’s (5.6% ABV) - This Peanut Butter Porter was simple and straightforward, smelling like the sweetest sugary peanut butter cup filling that you’ve ever had, like when you’re baking and spill the sugar into the batter and keep going hoping no one will notice. On tasting Hannah, myself, and the Contractor all compared this to Screwball whiskey. There was tons of peanut butter, a little bit of bitter dark chocolate, and some coffee grounds in there. On the lower-end of ABV for a porter, this beer would be a decent dessert treat if you really, really like peanut butter.

Dairy Air Hazy IPA (6.0% ABV) - This Double Dry-Hopped IPA features Warrior, Citra, Mosaic, and Vic Secret Hops. I got the strong impression of a wet spruce when smelling to the point of singeing your nose hairs. Picture when Tommy Boy is sweating in the back of the cab and decides to “spruce” himself up with the cab’s air freshener. A little too heavy on the pine tree perfume there, kid! Past that, there were some floral notes and a smidge of tropical fruit. For a double dry-hopped IPA, there were not a lot of hops when tasting though. Usually these are bigger and bolder than anyone could possibly need them to be, but that wasn’t the case here. Hannah enjoyed this fact that the hops didn’t coat the tongue for the next hour and I’ll admit it was nice for the hops to define the finish without sticking around to mess with every other beer flavor but when you drink a double dry-hopped IPA that’s exactly what you are looking for.

Mother Clucker (5.5% ABV) - This Lime Margarita Cream ale featured cloudiness and was the color of dead corn husks in fall. It was a must-try for Hannah since it promised margarita flavors on a Friday. It has that similar sweet smoothness to its aroma that other cream ales have and it was interesting that there was no hint from smelling that this was supposed to be margarita-themed. Upon tasting, this turned out to be a malty, creamy, smooth beer with a lot of lime juice added which made it pretty acidic. I gotta say, just the addition of lime juice does not a very happy margarita make. There were no detectable hints of salt or tequila at all. A lime-cream ale sure, but a margarita cream ale? Definitely not!

Pina Cow Lada (5.3% ABV) - The Contractor helped us review this one in full and stated definitely that “this tastes like how suntan lotion smells. It’s like you wanted a Banana Boat Beer.” I have to admit, I can’t get more accurate than that with my own description. Hannah won’t touch anything with coconut so it was up to me and the Contractor to do notes. It was a light beer in the mouth and featured medium clarity so long as the surprising amount of milky sediment on the bottom of the glass wasn’t kicked up. If that happened – for instance drinking it – it was medium clarity and golden in color. There was lots of Creme de Coconut used here. I would pass on this one. Coconut beers that aren’t porters are a niche market but there are still better iterations to find.

Blackberry Dan D (4.5% ABV) - This Blackberry fruited sour was burgundy and had all the clarity that color allows. Hannah and The Contractor agreed that it tasted closer to cranberry juice than blackberry, with a lower sourness than you’d get from Cranberry juice. I tasted a little bit of blackberry and picked up the scent of mixed berries, with Hannah and the Contractor smelling red berries and cranberry predominantly. Not quite sour enough for Hannah, the Contractor could have taken or left it and I thought it was okay all around.

Surprisingly, it was the Contractor who found the standout beer from Duesterbeck’s and that is the Roosterbeck. A solid, solid amber ale with 6.7% ABV with plenty of toastiness, a little toffee, and just the right amount of hops with a little pine-ness to balance the sweet malt. It was so solid I opted for two pints after our tasting. Unfortunately, the beers are not the best here. They are going up against some of my favorite spots so close to Burlington and are also not far from Lake Geneva (see Topsy Turvy Brewery) or even East Troy (coming soon). That said, they are currently sitting at 4/4 for the Burlington-area breweries that we have tried. They have shown some improvements in the beer styles over the past year and are on the upward trend which is good news! The space is awesome, the barn theme is one of a kind, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a larger pretzel or a Corn Crib Cabana anywhere else in the state. It’s an excellent space to spend a Friday afternoon with friends or family as we did. We will definitely be back, but I can’t suggest driving more than 30 minutes to try them out.

Until next time, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.

To learn more about Duesterbeck's Brewing Company please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @DBCBrewery or on Instagram: @Duesterbecks_Brewing_Co

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