Brew at the Barn organizers aim to raise $5K for MS research

May 18, 2017 GMT

What started as a casual home-brewing demonstration in Baraboo has blossomed into an annual festival that showcases homemade beers from across the state.

The eighth annual Brew at the Barn home brew competition is once again shaping up to be a beer lover’s paradise, complete with samples of homemade beers, wines, sodas, ciders and meads. But the celebration wasn’t always so widespread.

“It started as just a bunch of guys who got together out on the deck at the Barn Restaurant,” said organizer Christin Harding. “Jim Kinsman from Reedsburg did a presentation on how to make beer out on the deck one day, and I thought ‘Wow, this is really great – we should all get together and drink this.’”

Harding didn’t stop with a homebrew happy hour, however. The multiple sclerosis advocate from Baraboo sought to make the celebration a fundraiser for the Wisconsin chapter of the MS Society, as well.

The home-brewing festival now pulls in about $1,500 for the MS Society on average each year. Harding said the money is used locally to fund programs, classes and conferences for people who have MS, along with research on the disease.

“I like the fact that the funds that are raised go to people in Baraboo,” said Harding, who has been living with MS for 23 years. “I know a number of people in Baraboo, besides myself, who have benefited from things the Wisconsin chapter of the MS Society has done.”

Brew at the Barn has expanded over the years and now features beers from four area brewing clubs. This year, members of the Bluff Hoppers in Sauk Prairie, Clown Town Brew Club in Baraboo, the Dells United Frequent Fermenters, and Buck Run Brewing out of Richland Center will showcase their novelty beers.

Independent brewers from Verona, Madison, Monona, Richland Center and Janesville will offer homemade beverages, as well.

In addition to a wide variety of beer tasting options, local brewer Jim Kinsman said the festival provides an opportunity for individuals who are interested in brewing to chat with knowledgeable artisans.

“People always ask how I did something, and my response is usually, ‘Well this is what I did,’” he said. “Most of the time we’re not real secretive about what we did or how we did it.”

The event will be held Saturday, June 3 at the Barn Restaurant in Baraboo. Throughout the afternoon, beer lovers can sample libations produced by breweries, craft independents and amateurs. They can also vote for the brews they like most. Local blues musician Mark Tully will perform at 4 p.m.

Tickets cost $35 at the door or $30 in advance and can be purchased at Barabrew Liquor, the Barn Restaurant or Viney and Viney law offices. Tickets include all you can eat and drink specials and a commemorative drinking glass.

In addition to ticket proceeds, the fight against MS will benefit from a raffle whose items include brewery accessories such as signs and bottle openers. Harding said her goal is to raise $5,000.