Today we will be venturing to the South side of Milwaukee, specifically the Walker’s Point/Bay View neighborhoods. As you can see in the picture below, this area is littered with breweries, as well as two distilleries and a cider company. Of course, our focus will be on the eight breweries, most of whom have only recently came onto the scene. As I mentioned at the end of my last article, eight breweries would be too much to do for only article, so I have broken them down into two groups. The first four we will preview are listed below:
District 14 is a cozy brewpub that opened towards the end of 2014. While it is not a large space, they do a great job making it feel larger than it is. There’s a shuffleboard table along one wall, and they have a free popcorn machine as well. Finding parking can be a bit tricky, but I definitely recommend checking this place out.
Their beer menu seems to be constantly changing. It appears they like to try a wide variety of styles, as well as make tweaks to old ones as well. For example, I went with some buddies to visit in March. While writing this article I went to their Facebook page to check their menu, and of the 10 on tap, I believe only 3 or 4 were the same. However, it appears that they try to swap out similar styles in many cases. For instance, my personal favorite was their Chocomatic Lovemachine. In case you cannot tell by the name, this was a deliciously sweet stout that had a chocolate and cream flavor that was robust, but not too heavy. While Chocomatic is not currently on the menu, they have a chocolatey Imperial Stout by the name of Tsarpushka on tap. Two other beers I enjoyed were Biere de Charde, a Belgian ale aged in Oak Chardonnay Barrels, and Dirty Blonde, a refreshing kolsch. If you get the Biere de Charde, be prepared for a strong bunch from the Chardonnay, as it lingers in both the nose and taste.
This seems to be a fun place to grab some drinks with friends, and somewhere you can come to have some fun, or just sit back, relax, and converse.
Founded in 2013, Enlightened is just up the road from District 14, and similarly to them, the taproom is not a huge place. In fact, the first time I tried visiting, there was apparently a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl going on, and the place was packed to the point no one could move! Of course, I came back to visit, and although it is small, it is still a neat atmosphere. As you can see from the picture, the brewery is situated directly behind the bar, raised up several feet. I love interesting flight paddles, and while Enlightened’s paddles are not crazy, you are drinking out of science beakers, which I absolutely loved. Having a unique feature like this can help separate a craft brewery.
The beer overall was kind of ‘meh’ in my opinion. Nothing truly stuck with me, although there were several decent options. The Cream City Brix (a cream ale of course) was alright, but too many cream ales seem to be trying to copy Spotted Cow from New Glarus and just fall short. The Prototypical Porter was a bit too light for my liking, but still was a fine selection. A Priori Pale Ale is an APA that was not in my personal wheelhouse, but many people I talked to had positive praise to give it.
As I’ve said before, when I say I wasn’t a huge fan of a brewery’s beer, don’t let that scare you off. This is a fun, quirky spot, and plenty of folks would dispute my review. Again, one beautiful thing about craft beer is that everyone’s palate is different!
Urban Harvest Brewing Company
Moving a little further north, we find Urban Harvest. Another cool spot, they have the most indoor space of the breweries we are looking at today. One section of seating is actually raised up a bit, which adds an interesting dynamic to the area. Similarly to District 14, you have to find street parking, but we had no issues doing so. Overall, I felt the taproom was a little bland, but it is definitely worth coming for the beer.
You can read in the picture which beers I sampled while visiting, and while they were all solid, my two favorite were Wicket (a Summer Wheat) and Nookie Nookie (a Pale Ale). I really enjoy a good wheat beer, and technically it may have been the best, but Nookie Nookie was delicious in such a different way that it may be what I would order again. The Chinook hops in Nookie Nookie provide one of the strongest piney nose and flavor of any beer I’ve ever had. At close to 60 IBU, I was expecting it to taste closer to a IPA, but was so glad I did not skip over it. The Olde Towne Amber and Pribock were both fine options, but compared to the other two they could not match up.
Urban Harvest has a fairly extensive beer menu, and in reality I need to go back to visit and try more selections. I specifically remember struggling to decide which to put in my flight, which I consider to be a good thing. While they do not currently offer a sour ale for me, just about every other style is provided, so there is something for everybody!
Remember I mentioned the bacon beer? Well, we are getting to that. A couple blocks north of Urban Harvest sits Brenner Brewing Company. It is an interesting building, a fairly large brick structure with no windows, but a garage door on the front that can be opened when the weather is nice. The inside is nothing fancy; concrete floors and fairly simple seating. There is a large projection screen TV on wall that has on whatever sporting event is currently happening, and there are some bar games to play as well. I visited during a Wisconsin winter, so of course the garage door was down, and because of this I feel I need to revisit now that Mother Nature has lightened up a bit. I am sure the vibe and atmosphere are much different when the door goes up.
The beer was alright, but to me it was more ‘interesting’ than just ‘good’. Yes, Bacon Bomb Rauchbier is one of the craziest beers I’ve had. It truly does have a bacon flavor to it, as well as a smoky aftertaste. If you even remotely enjoy bacon, this is an absolute must-try. It probably won’t be your favorite beer, but wow, you will certainly be intrigued by it. Butterfly Farts Citrus Ale is one of my personal favorite beer names out there. The citrus nose does not carry through into the taste as much as I would like, but this was still probably my 2nd favorite option. AffenKonig Hefeweizen was a disappointment for me. I normally love Hefes, but this fell short. It seemed overly bubbly, and tasted more like a Pale Ale with a banana taste than a Hefe.
If you have time, go to Brenner’s website and look at the artwork for the beer. Mike Brenner, the founder, has a passion for supporting local artists and musicians. Each beer’s artwork is designed by an artist, and the artist’s profile is linked next to the beer. There are some awesome designs, so if you cannot stop in, at least check out the art online!
We are halfway done with the South side of Milwaukee! Unique beers and intimate atmospheres were the major factors in this first batch. Because they are so close together, it is easy to hit multiple locations quickly. This is not to say that you couldn’t have a wonderful night kicking back at just one location! Don’t forget to follow the Brewery Travels twitter account: @brewerytravels.
We will continue our adventure on the South side with four more breweries! One of the breweries we will discuss selects some of its beer through crowd-sourcing. You can actually go online and VOTE for what you want them to brew next!