Road Trip! Lakefront Brewery Tour, Milwaukee (Part 1)
Brewery: Lakefront Brewery
Beer: Big Easy Imperial Maibock, Riverwest Stein Lager, Eastside Dark Lager, Cream City Pale Ale
Style: various, see below
POP: Lakefront Brewery
Price: free with tour
So The Beer Student (that’s me, Brian) took a road trip this weekend up to the land of cheap lagers, sausage, and cheese: Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now, really, this road trip was more about basketball than it was beer. See, my beloved Butler Bulldogs had a road game at Milwaukee on Sunday, and a few Chicagoans and Hoosiers decided to visit our well-traveled beer loving buddy…also named Brian. The gracious host must have been catering to me, because he suggested a brewery tour followed by trips to various finer eating and drinking establishments around the area.
Less focused on the production and craft information and more focused on the “walk around a brewery and drink beer because it’s fun” thing, Lakefront Brewery tours charge you $6: but you get four 8 oz. (!) tasters as well as a pint glass to keep. Fun included. Anyway, their main “staging area” is reminiscent of a German beer hall with old brick walls, high ceilings, and a bunch of seating. The brew crew heads immediately to the bar for the first sample.
Big Easy Maibock (Bock): The first beer that I opted for pre-tour. Normally the first beer of the day is just sooo good, but I can’t say the same for this one. The malt flavor was a bit off in my opinion, and really, there wasn’t much that was “Imperial” about this beer. So far, I’m getting a bit nervous about the experience.
“The tour leaves in five minutes! If you’re almost done with your first beer, finish it up and get another!” Twist my arm, lady. On to the next one.
Riverwest Stein Lager (Amber Lager): A traditional amber. Not necessarily blowing me away, but a solid beer. The hop finish on this one was a surprise, and totally made this a pint I’d consider ordering in a bar.
Lakefront Brewery is housed in an old, really old, coal warehouse. In my opinion, this building is PERFECT for a brewery – in an old industrial area, beautiful brickwork, high ceilings, etc. Much of the equipment is old and modified, which is good to see after some California money-out-the-ears craft breweries. Now, as many beer nerds would be aware of, the plant that gives us hops is in the same family as cannabis. Apparently possessing this knowledge and answering the tour guide’s question correctly labels you as the resident stoner for the rest of the tour. (Irony: The Beer Student is an avid non-smoker.)
As the main floor of the brewery is downstairs from the waiting area and bar, I procured my third beer at the downstairs tap. See what I mean about it being a drinking tour that happens to be in a brewery?
Eastside Dark Lager (Dunkel):Yes please! German dunkel style beer that was nice and easy drinking but still packing lots of flavor. Coffee and caramel both come to the front. What with Milwaukee’s solid German heritage and passion for lager beers, one would expect this one to deliver, and it does just that. I never go out of my way to try German lagers or dunkels usually, but I’d do it again with this one.
So the next part of the tour has a lot of inside jokes and would take a long time to explain, so let me just tell you that I am The Bung King (title bestowed by tour guide) and went home with a piece of birch meant to plug an older style of keg.
Cream City Pale Ale (American Pale Ale): The beers keep getting better! (Isn’t that how it always goes? Heh…don’t worry, these are only 8 oz. samplers we’re talking about here, so this beer reviewer isn’t getting loopy yet.) Admittedly, I’m a fan of pale ales, which may skew my taste for this beer, but the hop aromas on this one are nice and smooth, a good beer for my friend who isn’t that into hops.
Not bad, Lakefront Brewery, not bad. One little bonus is the voucher they send you out with for an additional free pint that day from a list of selected establishments. Fortunately, one of them is our dinner stop: in part two. Whew!