Thursday, July 23, 2015

Milwaukee, Still the Beer Capital of the World -> Thanks to Craft Beer

With a rich brewing history as the home of Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, and Blatz, Milwaukee is often sited as the Beer Capital of the World. Whereas some of these giants still remain in different forms, it's the city's craft beer movement that helps maintain that exalted title. During a recent trip to the Brew City, I visited several craft breweries and saw how the Pedal Tavern was making trips to various establishments easy for consumers. No need for theCompass while pedaling these moving bars.

Our first stop was to the Milwaukee Ale House, the satellite brewpub of the city's oldest micro brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Company. Located adjacent to the Milwaukee River and the Riverwalk, this pub brews several of the house beers onsite and offers numerous guest beers - this week Surly Brewing Company was in the house. Obviously I had to go with that brand's Todd The Axe Man IPA, but also sampled several of the MBC beers that were quite nice like the Increase WheatAnti Matter (Imperial Schwarzbier), Snake Oil (Coffee Stout), and . No need to worry about ABV on this trip - no driving. Throughout the weekend, my go to beer at restaurants was the readily available Outboard (Cream Ale).

The second stop during the trip was to Brenner Brewing Company, where I had first sampled their Bacon Bomb Rauchbier at SAVOR a week earlier. I love this beer, smoky, but not overly so with a light body. On the other extreme, their Summer Blonde was nice as was the Butterfly Farts Saison. My favorite was their Oak Aged Anxious, a Porter aged in oak. Smooth, some heat, complex flavors. This was also our introduction to the pedal tavern, as several groups migrated in and out of Brenner during out visit. Wonder if they pedal back to our hotel?

The Milwaukee Brewing Company's main facility is located only a few blocks from Brenner, but unfortunately that hour's tasting was sold out. Tours are conducted on the hour and is quite the experience. For $10, you get a tour and unlimited beer for that hour; no wonder tickets fly fast. Fortunately however, the Central Standard Craft Distillery is located within the brewery and not only pours several MCB beers, but offers samples of their three spirits. I started with the Vodka, 100% Rye which gives a slight, slight spice character to this otherwise smooth spirit. Smooth, as in zero burn. I enjoyed their Gin, more than most because they go easy on the juniper and instead there's more of a floral, even slight tropical profile. Finally, there's the White Whiskey, with a predominately oat mash bill and aged in uncharred and unused oak.  This one, does have some bite, but also sweet, complex flavors. Also, look out for their Bourbons currently aging; expect a young 6 months version as well as a maturer 2 year version.

The final noteworthy stop was to Lakefront Brewery, a highly recommended establishment also on the Milwaukee River. Their outside area is a peaceful setting to enjoy their beers, particularly when the German style bier hall is crowded. Their IPA was everyone's favorite, with the Extended Play Session IPA not far behind. The Riverwest Stein (American Amber\Red Lager) was smooth with a strong sweet, malty profile. A nice selection of beers.

On the not so nice beers on the trip were a couple from Leinenkugel's 10th Street Brewery. The stadium was selling some form of overly malted beer trying to pass as an IPA, and the Shandy, well, I'll leave that one alone. There was also a Rock Bottom Brewery near our hotel and their beer was in the minor leagues as compared the others. But these were the exceptions, not the rule. Milwaukee is still running as the "Beer Capital of the World". Cheers.


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