My first experience with Wisconsin beer (other than all the mass-produced stuff like Miller and Pabst) was Leinenkugel's original lager. I first got mixed up with this when I went to my favorite watering hole (underaged, I might add) at Iowa State called Under Where? I remember one fine evening when Mel was working the bar. I saw they had a special on Leinenkugel's: Get 5 beers in a plastic bucket and keep the bucket. I asked him where Leinenkugel's was from. He told my friend, Kurt, and me that it came from Wisconsin.
Granted, I really didn't know much about beer back then. I considered Miller Genuine Draft a fine beer. But I really liked this stuff. To this day, I consider Leinenkugel's my favorite American Lager. While Sam Adams might be better, this remains my standard, when I can get it where I live. I was so excited when I moved to Illinois. The first thing I did was go to Wal Mart, and sure enough, there was Leinenkugels right on the shelf.
Oh, and that bucket became where I stored all my bathroom crap during college and for a few years afterwards.
My second favorite American Lager also comes from Wisconsin. Made by Heileman's, who also brewed Old Style, is a beer that came in green bottles called Special Export. I usually would get this on tap at The Lost and Found Lounge when I became "legal". Dave Loose would serve you a liter mug if you asked for it.
I'm not going into great detail about Old Style in this post. Old Style is fine, but it's not one of my favorites. My friend, Duder, was not keen on any of the Heileman's stuff. In fact, in a discussion about a certain person from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, there was also some cross talk about Old Style and Heileman's. He declared, "I am a firm believer that anything that comes from LaCrosse sucks." We lived with that quote for some time, but never mentioned it when we had to go shopping there.
I discovered Blatz while interning at Speed Queen in Ripon, Wisconsin. My room mate brought home a case of it. The name wasn't too appealing to me, and besides, I could get all the Leinenkugel's I wanted living in Wisconsin, even in cans! I said, "How is that?" He said, "Pretty good for $5.99 a case." I had only heard about cases of longneck bottles of beer in Iowa for $4.99, and that was for Red, White and Blue, made in Dubuque. Everyone said it was terrible. Later, I would try RW&B and discover that while cold out of the bottle, it was a pretty decent beer. However, this had not occurred yet.
One weekend, though, when I was in the apartment alone and had not yet bought beer for the weekend, I thought, "What the hell, I'll give it a try." Halfway through the bottle, I said out loud to no one, "Hey, that's pretty good for $5.99."
I took a case of this down to Davenport for a weekend trip with Tommy Tune to visit my friend, Amy, and Tom's twin brother and my best friend, P-Mart. Amy and P-Mart were like, "I'm not drinking $5.99 beer." Then they tried it. They said, "Hey, that's pretty good for $5.99."
Point absolutely cracks me up, because nowadays, Point is a microbrew. In Wisconsin it was as cheap as Special Ex or Leinenkugel's. I saw point for $6.99 a sixer in Pensacola. This was in the late 90's. I almost bought for the sheer nostalgia, but I stopped myself. I just couldn't do it. I like the novelty of Point, but I just can't take it seriously. It's not really that good. I even bought a sampler 12-pack a couple of years ago, and wasn't all that impressed. Too bad, Steven's Point seems like a cool little Wisconsin town.