Long live the great Milwaukee brewery explosion of 2016. Brew City has welcomed an extremely solid eight new breweries so far this year, and more are slated for the near future. It’s a long-overdue trend that has both brewers and beer lovers thrilled. Get to know a few of the new names when it comes to suds -- and prepare for the wave to continue. Cheers!
A touch of northern Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Black Husky uprooted itself from its original Northwoods spot in rural Pembine, and landed smack in the middle of bohemian Riverwest. Brewer Tim Eichinger and his wife Toni brought with them some great beer, including Sproose Joose, an imperial IPA flavored with actual spruce tips. The big wooden bar in the middle of the place is a popular spot for throwing back these well-made brews.
A brewery that is truly in touch with Milwaukee’s beer-drinking German ancestry, the Bavarian Bierhaus revamped the legendary -- but closed and empty -- Bavarian Inn, and opened in early 2016. The place offers a full slate of lagers, hefeweizens, dunkels, bocks, and a pale ale or two to a thirsty public. Those brews are essential to wash down a food menu loaded with schnitzels, sausages, and other hefty German fare.
Urban Harvest resides on a lightly trafficked, but oddly cool, portion of Fifth Street. Its inviting brick interior is perfect for a taproom that offers a slightly more laid-back feel than a few of the other new breweries. But beer drinkers don’t come just for the ambiance. More than a dozen Urban Harvest ales, lagers, and other styles are on tap, which means plenty of reasons to keep coming back.
Not all of the new breweries in the area opened in Milwaukee. Cedarburg also got into the beer game in 2016, and folks in the northern suburb should be pretty happy about it. Brewer Kris Volkman is doing things right; he doesn’t concentrate on a single style, but he certainly is adept at flavor. The rapidly changing taproom beer list includes well-crafted porters, sours, ales, and lagers. Good beer and a welcoming and open bar area make it worth the 40-minute drive from Downtown -- just flip a coin with your friends to ensure someone stays sober to DD.
Co-owner Justin Aprahamian is a world-class chef, which means he’s not a bad guy for his partner John Lavelle to team up with when it comes to creating a brewery. The two are conjuring up a lot more than everyday beer styles at the bright and inviting neighborhood spot. A rhubarb sour? Yep. A saison made with Rishi Tea lemon peel? Sure. The beers are definitely creative, and because Aprahamian knows a thing or two about food, the menu of items coming from the kitchen nicely complements the beers pouring from the taps.
These guys crowdsource their beer ideas, which means that each recipe is submitted by brewers and beer geeks, which are then voted on. MobCraft then brews the ideas that prove to be the most popular. The result is a sometimes-crazy assortment of styles, like Hop Cobbler, a cinnamon apple weiss, or the popular Bat$h!t Crazy Coffee Ale. Try a bunch of them at the stylish and modern taproom, which opened in the summer of 2016 after the brewery moved its operation from Madison.
The motto here is, "Seek the good." The good is pretty easy to find at this brewery on Milwaukee’s hip East Side. Brewmaster Andy Jones and his co-owners spared no expense when they created the spacious but comfortable brick-walled taproom. Hopheads have plenty to choose from coming from the massive brew kettles in the back. Jones seems to lean toward IPAs and pale ales and he does them all well. Good City isn’t just about the drink, though; the complex menu offers a whole lot more than average bar food.
Third Space planted it roots in the Menomonee Valley, down the street from Sobelman’s and a poker chip’s throw away from Potawatomi Casino. The location in the industrial corridor gives Third Space plenty of room to work with, and brewer Kevin Wright makes the most of it. The huge warehouse provides Wright with space to brew, and gives patrons a whole lot of space to drink. Expect to see West Coast styles done well from Wright, who learned a thing or two by attending the University of California-Davis Master Brewers Program.
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1. Black Husky Brewing909 E. Locust, Milwaukee
2. The Bavarian Bierhaus in Milwaukee700 W Lexington Blvd, Glendale
3. Urban Harvest Brewing Company1024 South 5th St., Milwaukee
4. The Fermentorium Brewery & Tasting Room7481 Hwy 60, Cedarburg
5. Like Minds Brewing, Milwaukee
6. MobCraft505 S 5th St, Milwaukee
7. Good City Brewing2108 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee
8. Third Space Brewing1505 West Saint Paul Avenue, Milwaukee
Black Husky Brewing in Riverwest is bright, relaxed, and casual, which we could have expected from a brewery that names each of its brews after a different dog. Enjoy the warm, puppy-friendly space indoors at a high-top table, comfy couch, or a seat at the carved wooden bar inspired by Black Husky’s far northeastern Wisconsin log cabin original brewing headquarters. While Black Husky doesn’t offer food, you’ll be more than satisfied with their flagship Pale Ale and Sproose Joose beers; here, you’ll get craft beer that’s cheap, but not cheaply made.
This huge complex of all things German has three separate areas to eat and drink: a stuffy dining room, a raucous beer hall, and an outdoor beer garden. Clearly, you'll want to sit in the hall or garden, where live music (hope you like polkas) and communal tables keeps things lively. Unlike many beer halls, they actually brew here, as evidenced by the fermentation tanks behind the bar. Grab a liter to wash down your bierwurst and giant pork schnitzel.
Urban Harvest Brewing Company in Walker’s Point is a neighborhood brewery and taproom that brandishes an extensive craft program, keeping a mighty 12 to 16 beers on tap. Ales are handcrafted in small batches several times a week, and favorites include the Old Towne Amber and Black Puppy Pale Ale. The space is industrial and minimalist; apart from the 10 two- or four-top tables along the walls, the only real decoration is the natural light that floods in through the windows and adds a warm glow to the hardwood floor.
Located just outside Cedarburg, The Fermentorium, the fire engine red 2,500-square-foot brewery that closely resembles a Walmart-barn hybrid, is striking not only in its appearance but also in its craft brew program, which serves up beers like the caramel Safe Passage and traditional Oktoberfest lager. Its eight taps are uniquely dedicated to dispensing Wisconsin-brewed beers, enjoyed at tables and chairs both indoors and outdoors. For those with hunger pains, the open-door policy for outside food coupled with a rotating bar snacks menu, like roasted peanuts and homemade potato chips, will save you.
Milwaukee’s Like Minds Brewing Company is a brewpub that focuses distinctly on layering flavors into beers. Working with many local and regional producers to source the best ingredients they can find, Like Minds uses 5,000-square-foot space to produce non-sour beers, while they use their sister brewery in Chicago to create sour beers. The food program offers Asian, American, and European flavors with small snacks like fried lemons, charcuterie, pizza, noodles, and burgers. Indulge in brews and bites on the outdoor patio or at one of the indoor tables.
The guys behind MobCraft bring a unique brewing approach to the Milwaukee craft beer scene: they crowdsource their ideas, meaning that all of their recipes are submitted by brewers and beer geeks alike. Each idea is voted on, and the winning brews are then crafted. This democratic process leads to a diverse and whimsical roster of beers, like the Hop Cobbler, a cinnamon apple weiss, or the popular Bat$h!t Crazy Coffee Ale. You can sample MobCraft's latest concoctions at its industrial-style corner space with mismatched furniture and a handful of outdoor picnic tables.
Edison bulbs and exposed brick line this stylish, industrial taproom on Milwaukee’s hip East Side, where hopheads benefit from a solid lineup of top-notch craft beers -- from IPAs and pale ales to pilsners and porters -- and a full menu that blows your typical bar nuts out of the water, featuring cheese boards, burgers, pork shoulder, and an imperial stout brownie for dessert. The chic space also offers views of Good City's massive brew kettles in the back, so you can witness the beer science firsthand.
Situated in an expansive warehouse in the Menomonee Valley, Third Space is a lively industrial-style microbrewery that gives locals plenty of space to unwind in its exposed-brick taproom and on its outdoor patio with yard games, offering four core beers, plus inventive seasonal offerings and special releases. From pale ale to German-style golden kölsch, the pair behind Third Space pours careful attention into its small but expert selection of craft beers.