Food & Drink

The Best Beer Bars in Milwaukee

Published On 09/22/2015 Published On 09/22/2015
Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist
Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist
Bernie’s Tap Room & Restaurant
Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist
Courtesy of Camino
Palm Tavern
Courtesy of Crafty Cow
Flickr/k.steudel
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1. Burnhearts 2599 S Logan Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Here you’ll find a thoughtful, just-right-sized tap list deep on Wisconsin and Michigan’s finest, plus a deep selection of rare bottles (ask about Carl’s Secret Stash). But somehow even more importantly, Burnhearts is impossibly welcoming, devoid of pretension, and the kind of bar where you can feel like you’ve been a lifelong regular in one afternoon, which will likely end up bleeding into the evening, whether you’re playing game after game of shuffleboard in back or chatting up the friendly staff up front. Come February, their (outdoor!) charity-minded Mitten Fest brings in people from all over to enjoy some rare beer, live music, and the fact that Wisconsinites refuse to let winter spoil a good time.

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2. Romans' Pub 3475 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (Bay View)

Mike Romans started serving microbrews well before today's thickly bearded beer snobs were even born. His bar -- a former roadhouse built in 1885 -- has become a can’t-miss destination for beer-lovers due to an excellent selection of more than 30 taps and Romans’ ability to talk shop. The affable and opinionated owner likes to discuss his brews. He does not, however, like large drunken groups of miscreants, so, behave like a human being while imbibing a rare beer, or you’ll likely be shown the door.

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3. Stubby's Gastrogrub & Beer Bar 2060 N Humboldt Blvd, Milwaukee, WI 53212

Great for a Tuesday night trivia game, and even better for a chill brunch in their outdoor space. Try their nachos with pulled pork and choose from their wide selection of beers. They always have a fun atmosphere and great portions.

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4. Bernie's Tap Room and Restaurant 351 W Main St, Waukesha, WI 53186

Great atmosphere and an even better selection of beer. They feature the largest selection of craft beer on tap than any other bar in the area. They also have plenty of appetizers and specialty pizzas to choose from. Make sure to come in on Friday when they play live music.

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5. Landmark 1850 Inn 5905 S Howell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

The bar’s been in the old building as long as the copper/iron ceiling, owner Joe and his son, Jeff, are frequently on hand to tell you the history of Wisconsin’s first bar, and European mainstays and American craft beers dominate the taps here and pay homage to Milwaukee’s early German, Polish, and Irish heritage.

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6. Cafe Benelux 346 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Café Benelux is a microcosm of the joy and vivacity characteristic of Europe's Low Countries. Like cafés in the real Benelux cities, this Third Ward spot gives equal play to coffee and beer, plus daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For lunch, try cheese curd-stuffed spiced bitterballen meatballs with curry ketchup or a plate of mussels provençal. Wash it down with one of the 30 beers on tap, and if you’re feeling especially ambitious, set your mouth afire with one of the infamous Benelux Bloody Marys. We suggest the Milwaukeean with bacon, cheese curd, and horseradish.

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7. Champps Americana 1240 S. Moorland Road, Brookfield, WI 53005

This is a sports bar that trumps all of the rest, mostly because of their fantastic beer selection.

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8. Camino 434 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Walkers Point)

Situated on Second Street is unassuming craft beer bar and eatery Camino. It's is a tiny bar; with only 10 two- or four-top pub tables dotting the front window and 12 stools at the bar, it’s warm and toasty on those cold Milwaukee winter nights. Here, you’ll order from a selection of American bar fare, with starters like “Garbage Fries,” with fried pork jalapenos, garlic, Parmesan, parsley, and rosemary oil, burgers, house-made sausages, like the “Garlic Polish,” with sauerkraut, horseradish cream, and tomato, and, to top it all off, a selection of wings. Wash it all down with one of 20 beers on tap, 16 varieties of bottled brews, and eight types of canned beers, and take a growler to go.

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9. The Brass Tap 7808 W Layton Ave, Greenfield, WI 53220 (Greenfield)

Some spots with massive tap banks get complacent with the quality of the liquid pouring from them. But The Brass Tap manages to keep most of its 80 taps interesting, with quality breweries and a wide range of beer styles. If the taps aren’t good enough, well, you sound really picky -- and also in luck: the bottle list is even bigger.

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10. The Palm Tavern 2989 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

This tiny Bay View bar happens to house the best Belgian beer offerings in a city most famous for decidedly not-Belgian beer. With 25 taps and a binder full of bottled brews, whiskeys, and other craft liqueurs, Palm Tavern inundates drinkers with options; but fear not, overwhelmed patrons, because Palm Tavern bartenders are always enthusiastic about making recommendations. The red crown molding above the bar is reminiscent of stage curtains, which sets the mood for an alcohol-driven main event of an evening.

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11. World of Beer 418 N Mayfair Rd, Wauwatosa, WI 53226 (Wauwatosa)

This is your local craft beer tavern complete with cozy atmosphere and great decor. Be sure to check out their BEERunch on the weekends. Try out their craft pairings like their chimay burger and margherita pizza.

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12. Crafty Cow 153 E Wisconsin Ave, Oconomowoc, WI 53066

It’s a crazy and unpredictable world, but burgers & craft beer is a combination you can count on. Crafty Cow offers a huge list of "juicy Lucy"-style burgers stuffed with cheese. Washing them down is even better: the 20 taps frequently have a few rarities, and it’s one of the few places in town where Toppling Goliath brews appear on the menu.

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13. Sugar Maple 441 E Lincoln Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Bay View’s Sugar Maple is a local favorite bar that offers over 60 craft brews on tap, featuring many hailing from small Wisconsin breweries past Milwaukee’s city limits. The long, spacious hall sticks to an amber palette in both the modern artwork that adorns the walls and the rich hues of the curved bar and high-top tables. Though there’s no in-house food, the surrounding neighborhood touts multiple restaurant options. Head outside to the back patio on a warm day.

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14. Benno's 7413 W Greenfield Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53214 (West Allis)

‘Stallis’s Benno’s doles out quality American pub fare on a menu that includes starters, soups and salads, customizable sandwiches, and house favorites, like brisket poutine or catfish po’ boy. Benno’s real gem, though, is its signature burger, which highlights house-seasoned and hand-formed meat. This patty is totally customizable; stack it on a Kaiser bun, hoagie, Panini, or marble rye, all from Papa’s Bakery, and add toppings ranging from smoked triple pepper bacon to a fried egg. Smother it with a couple of Benno’s sauces, like horseradish aioli or Cajun mayo, and wash it down with any of the 40 beers on tap.

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15. Von Trier 2235 N. Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

This is the closest you can get to living in Germany, without actually leaving Wisconsin.