Milwaukee seemed like the perfect destination for my first Beer Blogger & Writing Conference experience, after all it is nicknamed The Brew City. With a slight concern there would be an abundance of PBR & Miller Lite I was happy to set off on the adventure and discover all that Milwaukee had to offer including great craft beer.
Here are 5 must do's while visiting this cool city.
Take in the History- Milwaukee is filled with a lot of historic buildings that pour both stories and history into the streets. Along with all the historical buildings beer has a rich history in this town too with Pabst & Miller.
The conference I attended was held at Best Place, one of the buildings in the Historic Pabst Brewery, which closed back in December 1996. The brewery remained empty until purchased by Jim Haertel in 2001 and he restored that building to its original beauty. There are many rooms and hallways that make up this unique venue and of course several bars sprawled throughout each room it is the perfect location for an event and worth taking a tour. You can even sit at Captain Frederick Pabst’s roll top desk and look out onto Milwaukee as he used to do. The gift shop is not to be missed as it has everything beer and non beer related you could imagine and a nice touch of some breweriana for purchase too.
Sticking to the history of beer be sure to take a trip over to the Miller Caves were where Frederick Miller originally stored his brews before refrigeration. Walking into this cave was one of the most stunning sites I have seen and it took a page right out of the history book. As we sat in the beautifully lit cave we sipped away on a variety of beer served by MillerCoors such as Peroni and draft pours of Leinenkugel and Hofbräu München Anniversary Lager. Again I was impressed they had a selection outside of Miller High Life & Hamm's to choose from.
As we move through history to the present you can also visit the current Pabst Milwaukee Brewery which is now housed in a renovated church (down the road from Best Place) and is a bright welcoming space with exposed copper kettles and a variety of beer to taste instead of PBR. I was impressed they had nearly every style in the Pabst family of brewers. From Summer Solstice Wit and Flanders Red to Midnight Sun Doppel Bock and Von Damme Good Tripel.
Beer Gardens- This is one thing i'd love to see around here for the community as it seems to be doing great things for this city. Milwaukee embraces German beer culture by having Beer Gardens set up by their parks department. Sprecher Brewing has retrofitted old firetrucks and ambulances into mobile bars with draft taps for the beer garden. You can grab a pint while enjoying the park setting or watching your kids play at the playground. MKE tourism also mentioned that the crime rate has gone down in all parks where there is a Beer Garden present as there are more people frequenting the parks and all revenue collected goes back into improving the parks across Milwaukee County. Brilliant! There are five permanent Beer Garden locations and one travelling beer garden.
Craft Breweries- Though Milwaukee may seem like latecomers to the craft beer boom it’s easy to walk anywhere in downtown Milwaukee and find yourself at a craft brewery. With over 40 to choose from, some with over 30 years of experience like Lakefront Brewing, it’s easy to find a beer that suits you.
Lakefront Brewing is a must for their awesome tour, delicious fried cheese curds and of course variety of tasty beer. Their location is awesome as it is right on the river and with riverside seating to enjoy your beer. If you are lucky (like I was) you will have a chance to re-act the Laverne & Shirley or Wayne's World scene of placing a glove on the bottling line... my life is complete!
Good City Brewing was one of the craft breweries we kept ending up at and for good reason. This 17 bbl brewpub nestled into the East Side serves up some fantastic beer, food (try the curry fries) and has a rooftop patio. I would highly recommend visiting for their imperial stout and clean Mosaic pale ale.
MobCraft brings a cool concept to a brewery by being the world's first completely crowdsourced brewery. MobCraft Beer makes custom craft beer and produce small batch “custom craft beers” based on user submitted recipes. You can cast your vote by placing a pre-order of the beer you want them to brew and MobCraft will produce the beer with the most orders. The brewery is a lively place with indoor and outdoor seating, games to play, 25 taps, tasting flights, growlers, food carts on the weekends, live music and more!
Visit Milwaukee is the tourism site which has a list of further brewery suggestions, tours and dining you should check out.
Eat- There is no shortage of good food or cheese in Milwaukee and a great list of suggestions can be found on The Squeaky Curd blog here. In addition I highly suggest visiting the Milwaukee Public Market for fresh food and local vendors. Whether you are dining in, taking out or looking to grab a beer they have it all. We had a lobster lunch for $15 and a pint as the whole market is licensed. Be sure to check out the variety of fresh sausages at Foltz Family Market along with their taproom to enjoy a beer, Kehr's Candy and St. Paul Fish Company for fresh Oysters or a lobster lunch!
Relax- Brewhouse Inn & Suites is hands down the best hotel any beer lover can ask for and the ideal place to rest your head after a day of exploring. The hotel is a 90 room, all-suite hotel, with rooms ranging in size from approximately 350 sq. ft. to over 1000 sq. ft.
Being another section of the original Pabst Brewery built in 1877 you are greeted by the original copper kettles, subway tile and a stained-glass window depicting King Gambrinus (the patron saint of beer). The breakfast room is named The Blue Room because it was the Pabst employee break room; they had beer flowing 24/7 and the Milwaukee Police Department would stop and visit with the employees at the end of their shifts. (Their uniforms were blue). The Pabst employees nicknamed it in honor of the police department.
The tables and accents in each room are made from original wood from the brewery which is a cool touch along with the interior doors looking like full beer glasses. The beds are beyond comfortable and each room has a kitchen in it with a full sized fridge to at least keep all the beer you've been buying cold. They have add on packages to the room including a bucket of PBR tall boys. You have to admit to the fact that this is the perfect place to relax with a PBR if any so go ahead and indulge. There is a restaurant & bar attached to the hotel which serves a variety of local beer including PBR and has tasty food and a nice patio to enjoy bean bag toss along side your brews.
Overall we had an amazing stay the staff was friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable about the history of this building. I highly recommend you make this a part of your trip to Milwaukee