Milwaukee breweries are establishing a tradition of introducing specialty beers in conjunction with black Friday.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

They stand in the cold, fingers numb around a bottle of beer. They might or might not have slept in the car. For sure, they are in line and drinking before the sun made an appearance.  

On the surface, they are there on the day after Thanksgiving for a specific, special beer release: Lakefront Brewery’s barrel-aged Imperial Stout Black Friday beer.

But the people who line up in the cold — an estimated 1,600 people did so last year — are there to tap more than a rare brew.  

“The first year I went because it was a novelty,” said Eric Sullivan, who has been to every Lakefront Black Friday since the first one in 2012. “The thing that keeps me coming back is the community, the awesome people.” 

Black Friday in Milwaukee is no longer just a shopping day — it’s a beer lover’s day. 

Five years ago, Lakefront was the only Milwaukee brewery to have a Black Friday event. This year, 11 craft brewers and brewpubs have announced a special-release beer for the day after Thanksgiving, with one more doing a release on Thanksgiving Eve and another on the Saturday after Black Friday. And other local craft-beer destinations are having special Black Friday events, too. 

The day after Thanksgiving has become a time when breweries release big, unique and creative beers, said Steve Pribek of Urban Harvest Brewing.

“Our Imperial Chocolate Whiskey Stout just happened to be ready at this time last year and it fits that description: big dark, full-flavored, and just a hint boozy. We look to make this a traditional Black Friday release beer,” Pribek said.

When Lakefront staged its its first Black Friday event in 2012, it was just to give people something to do.

Lakefront president Russ Klisch, inspired by the people who went Christmas shopping in the pre-dawn hours, decided to offer brewery tours starting at 8 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving. He thought people would shop, hit up a tour and head home for a nap. 

After the first…