Drinking in Brew City
On June 21, Milwaukee's lakefront kicked into action with Summerfest, an annual music festival, considered the world's longest (this year it ran through July 5th) and largest. Should you be attending Summerfest in the future or just passing through the Greater Milwaukee Area at any time of year, consider sampling some Brew City beers. Though frequent recipients of rewards, many are not sold outside of Wisconsin. Below are some notable Milwaukee breweries and pubs, all great itinerary stops for the beer lover.
Lakefront Brewery, in the Brewers Hill neighborhood, where beer barons once resided in grand mansions, offers tours ($6, includes a pint-glass souvenir and a free pour of beer at one of six local bars) daily at 1 p.m. A reservation is necessary as the times available after that vary. Pop in on a Friday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., and for $11, you get the tour, four pours of beer and a $5 voucher towards a Wisconsin tradition: fish fry (fried fish served with sides of coleslaw and potato pancakes).
On the city's north side is Stonefly Brewing Co., a gastropub that serves, all evenings beginning at 5 p.m., bangers and mash, spicy mac 'n cheese (with beer cheese) and other pub fare. No tours are offered, but beers on tap vary, and might include Mustache Ride Pale Ale or Brass Knuckle Blonde.
Further north, in the suburb of Glendale, is Sprecher Brewing Company. (And if you're looking for a change of pace, ask for Sprecher's root beer, which won accolades in 2008 within a New York Times story ranking root beers across America.) Tours ($3) of the aging cellar, bottling line and warehouse—followed by four samples of beer—are Fridays at 4 p.m., and Saturdays on the hour from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., as well as Sundays on the hour between noon and 2 p.m.
Downtown and in the adjacent (just to the south) Third Ward neighborhood you'll find Water Street Brewery, with its great collection of beer memorabilia and cans, and Milwaukee Ale House, as well as the national chain Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. Milwaukee Ale House's two-level outdoor deck overlooking the Milwaukee River is a pleasant place to sit and sip, as is the patio at Rock Bottom. All three, as well as Lakefront Brewery, have docks along the Milwaukee River where you can tie up a canoe or kayak, easily rentable from Laacke & Joy's, which is just up the river from Lakefront. The trip from Lakefront to Milwaukee Ale House—the most northern and southern, respectively—is just under one mile.
And even though Milwaukee's has its fair share of microbrews, it's also (one) home to the Miller Brewing Company. Complimentary tours of the facility (where 200,000 cases of beer are packed daily) end with a free beer, peanuts and a stamped postcard sent anywhere worldwide.