From Rogers Park, Chicago up to Milwaukee is just over an hour trip. Our last visit back in 2012 there were only 5 or so breweries on the scene. This time around there were no less that 40 on their official beer map. It’s only one third the size of our city so we kid that this town is Chicago’s nicest suburb.
It’s always been tradition to day drink and brunch across the cheddar curtain then return with some treats from New Glarus. Every year the baseball’s regular season ends with the Cubbies playing the Brewers to end the year in that drop top stadium up there. Once there was a double bonus when you went to get another round from the bar only to see the Bears v Packers on every screen. Did we mention this town’s baseball team is literally the Brewers!
Will not get into Milwaukee’s history but notable connections include MillerCoors world headquarters is now based in downtown Chicago (across the street from Sears Tower) Joseph Schlitz came down from the north after the Great Chicago Fire and by the time he was done was the second largest property owner in Chicago after the Catholic Church.
You need a full weekend to take in all that Milwaukee offers these days. We only partied on a Saturday.. these are the spots we hit up.
Comet Café Milwaukee
Vegan friendly, lunch, brunch dinner options from scratch. House Mimosa is New Glarus Spotted Cow, OJ + Wine. The draft 15 taplist is displayed in the nicest baseball trading card format. It was ground zero for how to attack all that Brew Town had to offer.
Eagle Park Brewing
This crew landed on our radar as 1 of 2 Wisconsin brewers invited to at Mikerphone’s Smells Like A Beer Fest in Elk Grove Village, IL this year. We are still wondering how these cats even know each other. Their beer garden comes complete with patio seating and outdoor camper with drafts and a big screen TV in it.
We arrived just in time for the latest entry in The Demo Track Series, a collection of 16oz bottle releases that give a peek at new recipe ideas still in the dev phase. The companion to that Vanilla Imperial Stout release was Shake Weight, a massive milkshake IPA we saw flying out by the case during our visit. If Fruit Smoothie IPA were a thing, this would be it. Copious amounts of tangerine, vanilla, coconut, strawberry, tangerine and lactose sugar in this 8% collaboration with The Brass Tap Greenfield. The winner in this joint was that Jam Sesh PB &J Ale. It’s a fruit forward ale that somehow captures a thin layer of roasted peanut butter essence on your mid palate.
Jam Sesh, pb+j ale 7.5%
Shake Weight, milkshake ipa 8%
Imperial Vanilla Stout 11%
Citra On the Dock, neipa 8%
Third Space Brewing
The brewmaster is a California transplant that followed up his 2017 Gold Medal GABF win for Scottish Rye Ale with a pair of bronze medals in 2018. Unbridled Enthusiasm is the first IPA in any category to medal in Wisconsin history. We left with a 6 banger of the Upward Spiral. Their outpost is a no frills production space and beer garden tucked away down by the Menomonee River. The locals all suggested we check out City Lights brewing just a mile down the road.
A pair of pale ales later (Thor + Happy Place) it was time to hit the lakefront for a little summer breeze.
-Happy Space, midwest pale ale 5.3%
-Thor, norwegian pale ale 4.7%
-Upward Spiral ipa, 6.5%
Milwaukee Lakefront Yacht Club
The yacht club downtown has been active since 1871. This was home to the Milwaukee Beer Fest during our last visit. Chicago’s downtown lakefront almost never sees a beer fest of any kind. Just south of the Yacht Club is the Milwaukee Art Museum whose pavilion design is reminiscent of a massive yacht inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Word is the wings are retractable creating a unique open-air experience on the shore not to be missed. It was the perfect excursion between stops to do ….absolutely nothing but chill.
Urban farmhouse ales and barrel aged stouts in what was easily the most scenic of the stop on the day. Of course 1840 is the year the first commercial brewery started in Milwaukee We learned about the no-boil technique used in IPAs here. Apparently the mash tun begins to boil near 170 degrees, but if you heat it just below that, the flavors extracted from the grain take on a bolder, spicier characteristic in the finished product. Where most hazy IPAs focus on soft, ripe fruit notes, the No Boil is the return of a nice, rustic bitter balance to those flavors (preach!)
If you enjoy a BA stout that expresses barrel character and keeps the syrupy dessert antics in check this place is for you.
-Ephonium B3, ddh brett saison aged 12 months white wine barrels, simcoe + mosaic. 6.7%
-Koselig, raw ipa, kviek yeast, citra, nelson sauvin 7.5%
-SIX, ba stout six months in heaven hill barrels 11%
-Sprubury’s Finest, ba stout aged in ex maple syrup bourbon barrels 12.7%
Black Husky Brewing
The original brewery was a log cabin about 200 miles from here in Pembine, Wisconsin It’s dog friendly establishment even if you’re one of those folks who like to lick your dog in the mouth. The bar is the original hand carved wooden bar from the original location. When the question was posed on where to go in Milwaukee this brewery may have been the most popular response.
-Deck Dog, german pilsner, 5.8%
-Dogfather, mosaic hop pale ale, 6.8%
-Cubs @ Brewers September 5-8th in Milwaukee
-Hacienda’s Milwaukee outpost wasn’t online yet but will be in part II
-Pabst Milwaukee Brewery Mansion and the state-of-the-art Fiserv Forum both offer daily tours
-There are 8 beer gardens in Milwaukee