Brewery Travels #12: Suburban Milwaukee

In previous articles, we explored everything Milwaukee has to offer when it comes to craft breweries. However, venturing outside the city into the suburbs will show this area has much more to offer. In this article, I will choose my four favorites from the surrounding outskirts. Two are located to the south, while the other pair is located west of the city. One common theme among these breweries: great food to go along with the beer.

  1. Explorium Brewpub: Greendale
  2. St. Francis Brewing Company: St. Francis
  3. Biloba Brewing: Brookfield
  4. Delafield Brewhaus: Delafield

Explorium Brewpub

Breweries and brewpubs seem to be popping up everywhere. One place I did not expect to find one: a shopping mall. That’s right, located in Greendale as part of the Southridge Mall, the Explorium Brewpub has burst onto the craft beer scene. While it is technically attached to the mall, you get an intimate feeling when inside. From the brick fireplace to the shiplap walls, it has a cozy atmosphere. However, it is actually a large area, especially when you throw-in the expansive patio. The owner, Mike Doble, not only takes the beer seriously, but the food as well. This is evident if you order anything off the menu (everything from burgers and pizza, to mussels and fish).

I was incredibly impressed by the sheer number and diversity of house taps offered, especially since this is a newly opened establishment. Thanks to Mike, I was able to sample nine of the current offerings. My two favorites were profoundly different; Mango Hefeweizen and Livingstone’s Porter. The hefe really punches you in the senses with mango, so if you like a little fruity twist, this is an incredible option. Livingstone’s is one of the flagships here, and is a beautifully roasty offering with a burnt marshmallow aftertaste. Honestly, I could write a whole page on the beers here but some other quality offerings include: Tiramisu Stout (yes it tastes like that), Haberillo (perfect amount of heat), DAMN That’s Good Double IPA (wonderful tropical nose), and Co-nut-drum Peanut Butter Stout (yes, just trust me).

If you are in the Milwaukee area, this is a must-stop in my opinion. Between the amazing food, the huge selection of beers, and the wonderful atmosphere, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Also, Mike is an awesome guy if you get the chance to talk with him!

St. Francis Brewing Company

The only way St. Francis could take it’s religious (and specifically Roman Catholic) theme to a higher level is if it was located in an actual church. As the son of a pastor, I thought it was awesome. Whether it is the décor, the ‘Saint Francis’ tap handles, or the beer names, there’s no escaping your sins here! The building itself is a newer/modern build with towering windows, but there are some stone and wood additions to give it a more classic feel. Brewery equipment is located behind the long bar that greets you at the entrance. It is also visible from outside, thanks to the  previously mentioned windows. As with Explorium, the food is not just an after-thought. Burgers, wraps, and a variety of entrees provide a plethora of choices.

Of course, the core beers are named for the 7 deadly sins right? My favorite was Lust, a tasty weissbier. Others include Greed (Session IPA), Wrath (Amber Ale), Envy (IPA), Sloth (Brown Ale), Gluttony, and Pride. The final two are rotating seasonals, and along with these flagship beers, they also have several ‘occasionals’ on tap. When I visited, the one that stuck out to me was the Harvest Strong Smoked Ale, as it was one of the few beers that strayed away from the norm. For the most part, when you go to St. Francis, you are getting a solid array of beers brewed to style. There are not many fancy additives, just good, solid beers. P.S. They also make really good sodas!

All themes created equal, this is a great place that will appeal to almost anyone. Not just for beer geeks, this is also a family friendly restaurant which has been ‘serving heavenly food and sinfully good beer to the St. Francis and Milwaukee community since April 2009’ (taken from their website).

Biloba Brewing

Biloba is one of the best surprises I have encountered during my travels to different breweries. When you pull up to the facility, it is fairly unimposing, but you will be rewarded when you venture inside. A small bar meets you inside the doors where you can place your order. After getting your drinks, you can venture to one of the seating areas. It is an interesting configuration, as a double-sided fire place makes the room somewhat wrap around. Besides some picnic table style seating, there are comfier options by the fireplace which provides patrons a nice area to sit and visit. Pretzel rods on the tables are a nice touch.

The beer blew me away. I was honestly not expecting the kind of quality I encountered. Saison on Oak had me absolutely floored. This farmhouse-style ale had a perfect amount of tartness, which danced with the woody oak aromas and taste. I originally picked it just for the name, but Smokin’ Gramma proved to be a tasty treat. Normally I am not big on beers aged in bourbon barrels, but the complexity of the flavors (smokiness, vanilla, etc.) gave this beer a thumbs up. They also have a sour version of the Gramma now! A fun option is their Apple Pi, which takes a normal apple ale and adds in berries. Each beer I tasted was good, so get a flight and see what strikes your fancy.

As the sole brewery in the happening suburb of Brookfield, I expect Biloba to grow rapidly. I actually visited Biloba back in March, and it appears their beer menu has changed significantly. A return trip may be in the makings!

Delafield Brewhaus

Driving along I-94, you may be able to catch a glimpse of an impressive looking ‘Brewhaus’ just south of the road. And while it is more complicated to actually get there than you would think, it is certainly worth the time. An over-sized Adirondack Chair sits in front, for what I assume are picture-taking reasons. Walking inside, the brewing system is elevated and meets your eyes. To the right is a huge U-shaped bar, while the left contains amble amounts of seating. There is also a 2nd level mezzanine that overlooks the main floor, and a decent sized patio. For those interested in Brewerania collectibles, this place has plenty! One wall over by the bar also displays the awards different beers and brewers have won.

Speaking of beers, they sure know what they are doing over in Delafield. Sommerzeit Hefe Weizen is one of the best I’ve had in this style. Cloves were more present than usual, which set it apart in this normally straightforward style. Two others I enjoyed were the Strawberry Ale which had one of the strongest fruit flavors of any beer I’ve had, and the Pewaukee Porter, whose nose was overpowered by coffee, but had more chocolate present in the taste. Want a beer with a crazy name? Give Ekuanot Hop Hash X.P.A. a go. This pale ale had a powerful tropical nose, but gave way to lighter citrus and bitter flavors on the tongue. Two other flagships to try are Delafield Amber and Dockside Ale, both of whom are lighter in body and ABV, making them easy-drinkers, as well as good introductory beers for those new to craft.

Delafield has a ‘destination brewery’ feel to it. And like others in this article, they have a great food menu. Because of this, you can even bring your non-beer-drinking friends along! This may be the furthest from Milwaukee, but I recommend making the trip!

Conclusion

While these breweries are a little more spread out, they all are serving great beer, while providing different atmospheres. And while the Milwaukee metro area does have many more worthy breweries, my wife and I will soon be leaving for the Northeast! Even though this will open the door to many more breweries, I wanted to provide everyone a sample of what the suburbs here have to offer!

Next Article

However, before moving out east, I was able to attend the Milwaukee Brewfest. So we will take a one-article break from Brewery Travels as I will share my experiences from that event!

Current Brewery Count

78 breweries across 38 cities in 7 states. This number is about to EXPLODE as we head towards New Hampshire at the end of the month. Follow my travels on Twitter: @brewerytravels

Joel Geier

Joel Geier

Hi all! My name is Joel, and I LOVE traveling to craft breweries. My goal is to visit as many as possible as I tag along with my travel nurse wife. Follow @brewerytravels on Twitter for updates! I'll be posting articles discussing my adventures here!
Joel Geier