no. 229

Bier Zot Beer Cafe—a 22-seat European-inspired restaurant and beer bar located along Lake Michigan in Northern Wisconsin’s Door County—has slowly built up its reputation as a beer destination. While most of the area’s businesses close their doors during the winter season, Bier Zot continues to serve great beer to locals and the few visitors that make the trek up during the cold months.

On a recent December weekend, Bier Zot was holding its first annual Holly King Festival. In celebration of the darkest day of the year, the festival featured only Imperial Stouts. As the temperature hovered just above single digits and fluffy, white snow continued to fall since the day before, the cafe’s warmth was beyond welcoming.

Only 20 tickets were sold to each of three intimate sessions, and Bier Zot beer curator Ryan Castelaz guided attendees through tastings of each beer. This year’s offerings included Surly Darkness, Oskar Blues Bourbon Barrel Aged Ten Fidy, Founders Lizard of Koz, and vintages of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, Deschutes Abyss, and Avery Tweak.

“We had a couple come to the festival who are steadfast light beer drinkers,” Castelaz says. “By the end of the session, they left with a crowler of Lizard of Koz—it shifted their mindset on dark beer entirely."

—Matthew Sampson