Exploring Brew City

Beer sophisticates will love Milwaukee's microbreweries—and visitors can experience them by sipping, cruising or tasting the city's pleasures

Milwaukee’s Brew City reputation is well-deserved: In 1856 the city boasted more than two dozen breweries and it used to be home to four of the world’s largest: Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Miller. Today only MillerCoors remains but local craft breweries flourish. Fortunately, sips of the city’s past are still front and center—and summer’s the perfect time to tour, cruise and dine with Milwaukee’s pride: beer.

TOUR

MillerCoors is the area’s only macrobrewery tour—and visitors will marvel at the brewery’s 150-plus-year-old history. The free, hour-long tours run daily in the summer, and at the end visitors get a tasty reward: their choice of a Miller-brewed beer in the Miller Inn, the Bavarian-style pub, or in the outdoor beer garden. Lakefront Brewery (photo, above), a local microbrewery, offers a more casual tour to Miller’s corporate-style jaunt. With a stellar location on the Milwaukee River, tours run daily and the lively guides are likely to drink with you before, during and after the tour (visitors get four six-ounce pours throughout the tour). Check out their new tour center, Bernie Brewer’s chalet and beer mug that used to be in County Best Place at the Historic Pabst BreweryStadium and Friday fish fry. If you like history, the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery tour is a fascinating talk that follows Pabst Brewing’s history from its Milwaukee roots in 1844. See historic Pabst Brewery buildings including a gorgeous German-style beer hall that was used for Pabst company functions. Owner Jim Haertel’s friendly,
booming voice explains Pabst’s history (they stopped brewing in Milwaukee in 1996) and the minutiae of the buildings (Haertel actually owns three of the buildings). Visitors are encouraged to sip on pints of Blue Ribbon that are offered throughout the tour. Also check out Milwaukee Brewing Company’s tours on Fridays and Saturdays and Sprecher Brewing Company’s facility, which produces award-
winning beer and soda.

CRUISE

The Milwaukee River is a lively thoroughfare in the city and boaters like to take advantage of it. Edelweiss Boats are a lovely way to end the day—try the Friday fish fry cruise, or embrace the obvious with the Saturday beer and brat cruise. Boats have an indoor cabin (for inclement weather) and front and back outdoor decks. Guests cruise past city sights like the Third Ward, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin and, of course, a few microbreweries along the way. If you want to visit those microbreweries, opt for the Riverwalk Boats’ Saturday pub and brewery tour cruise or the Sunday brewery tour. Visitors pick a brewery to start at and afterward hop on the boat where you’ll stop at Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern, the Milwaukee Ale House and Rock Bottom Brewery. Lakefront Brewery is also a stop on the Sunday cruise.

DINE

Hinterland is a gastropub in the Third Ward that boasts farm-to-table ingredients and a menu that changes every day. They also brew twelve styles of beer—look for Hinterland IPA released in July and Oktoberfest, out in August. The menu borrows heavily from their brews, too. Their Maple Bock is used in the barbecue sauces, the Cherry Wheat in ice cream and vinaigrettes, and the Luna Stout in the frozen custard. Bayview’s The Horny Goat Hideaway is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum—this cheHorny Goat microbrewseky “entertainment venue,” as owner Jim Sorenson calls it, is a former pump house on the Milwaukee River and they too brew their own beer. Order a sampler paddle for $9.99 that gets you all six microbrews or order an Exposed or Belgian mojito, which use their brews as a mixer. The chips and dip with the Hopped Up ’N Horny beer cheese sauce is a must-try. In that same vein, Riverwest’s Stonefly Brewing Company offers eight microbrews (like the Moustache Ride Pale Ale) and the mouth-watering menu (dinner on weekdays, brunch on Saturdays and Sundays) also uses brews as a focal point in many dishes—like the soft hot pretzels with Stonefly Stout mustard and the bangers and mash braised in Stonefly Pale Ale. The St. Francis Brewery and Restaurant opened in 2009 and serves up hand-crafted beers and a full menu that also relies heavily on microbrews for flavor.

They don’t call Milwaukee Cream City for nothing—and a trip there guarantees you’ll sip and savor every part.

Read more Travel features here.

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