THE BEER HEAVEN OF THE UNITED STATES/MILWAUKEE BREWERY TOUR
Milwaukee is a beer heaven of the United States. Beside Harley-Davidson, another thing made Milwaukee famous was beer. Miller’s headquarters is located in Milwaukee. Pabst was founded in Milwaukee, although the headquarters is located in Los Angeles now. Milwaukee also had numerous local independent breweries. If you’re craft beer lovers, the recent trend in the U.S., you won’t get trouble to find your favorite beer in this city. The local breweries produced different tastes but good quality of beers. Though I had an impression that Miller and Pabst were still strong at the local night clubs and bars when I visited.
Many local breweries were located around the downtown area and offered tours. It would be a fun idea to enjoy brewery hopping and compare the taste. My friend and I originally planned to visit 3-4 breweries, but we could visit only one because we took 5 hours at Harley-Davidson Museum.
Our choice of the brewery was Milwaukee Brewery Co., located in the south of the downtown area called Walker’s Point. The reason was Milwaukee Brewery was one of the most popular breweries in the city, and also near Harley-Davidson Museum.
When we arrived at the brewery 30 minutes before the last tour time at 4:00 p.m…the tour was sold out! We didn’t make advance reservations because we were totally spontaneous (if not, we wouldn’t spend at the museum for 5 hours). We didn’t imagine the tour would be sold out because the day was just a regular Saturday, not a holiday, and the streets around the brewery and downtown were empty. When we got to the brewery, we thought “where those people came from? Streets were so empty!”. Yes, the entrance was that much crowded.
My friend bravely negotiated with a ticket sales staff, saying we were from far Chicago and New York City for the brewery tour. A supervisor overheard his negotiation and frankly said “Eh, go ahead, put them in! We gonna have fun!” Thanks so much!
But what did he mean “we gonna have fun” for the tour? The brewery changed the last tour of the day to an open house. According to their website, “Open House is a casual two-hour opportunity to sample flavors, ask questions, socialize, and see the brewery on mini-tours”. Well, the open house was simply like a college house party. Rather than tasting, it was drinking. Besides socializing, a lot of dancing and hula hoop contest. It was unexpected Saturday evening entertainment for us. If you’re from other countries, this open house is a good opportunity to experience a good American party!
Oh, I almost forget to write. The taste of all Milwaukee Brewery brands was very good. Yes, I drunk all kinds of beer offered at the open house…Mostly thick and full bodied beers. My favorite was “Louise Demise” and “Polish Moon”. They write about themselves “new-school creativity energy” on their beer information (http://mkebrewing.com/beer) and I think that explained about the brewery very well. The tour atmosphere was new school. The majority of tour attendances lived in local Milwaukee area. Probably they were attracted to the easy going atmosphere as well.
MILWAUKEE BREWING CO. : http://mkebrewing.com
ADDRESS: 613 South 2nd Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204
TEL: 414-226-2337 (toll-free)
- As you read, advance reservation is strongly recommended. Reservation can be made on their website.
- I read a news that the brewery plans to move to the former Pabst facility in downtown. Please check the brewery directly before you visit.
FRESH GOURMET CITY
Who do expect Milwaukee is also a good food city? I sure didn’t. That was what I discovered while I was spending in Milwaukee. There were many local restaurants and pubs in Milwaukee downtown area. Despite we didn’t see many cars and pedestrians on the streets and the downtown gave me an impression empty, many restaurants and pubs had full of people all the time.
On the other hand, what I didn’t see much in downtown Milwaukee was fast food restaurants. I even didn’t see many McDonald’s, which headquarters was located in the neighbor state, Illinois. Local restaurant situation was rich in Milwaukee and there was no space for fast food restaurants.
What I was impressed by the restaurants we dined was they used fresh ingredients. I could taste freshness soon after biting. Then I learned one thing. Wisconsin had the rich source of good fresh foods. In the land, the state produces fresh meats, fresh milk, fresh eggs, fresh cheese, fresh vegetables, even fresh malts and fresh beers. On the clean lakes and rivers, there were plenty of fresh fishes. Milwaukee had a great privilege for local foods and didn’t need fast food chains that would require factory preparation in other places.
I introduce 3 restaurants we enjoyed in Milwaukee.
Have you every heard “Friday fish fry”? Everyone knows fish fry, but I think many people don’t know about “Friday fish fry”. Well, it’s not a difficult thing to imagine. “Friday Fish Fry” is a Wisconsin tradition literary eat fried fish on Friday night based on Catholic history. Wisconsin had many European immigrants from Catholic countries such as Germany, Ireland, and Poland in the 19th century, and they brought the tradition to refrain from eating meat on Friday because Friday was related with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (click here to see more story at Travel Wisconsin’s website). Milwaukee and Wisconsin still had the tradition and many restaurants and pubs served fish fry on Friday.
I didn’t know about the “Friday fish fry”. My friend from Chicago either. I knew about it when I read a guide book about Milwaukee and caught my attention. I like eating fish, but the fish food was one thing I didn’t imagine from Wisconsin without the ocean. I wanted to experience that tradition. That was why we went to Milwaukee on Friday.
We chose O’Lydia’s, an Irish restaurant and pub located at the Walker’s Point, near Milwaukee Brewery. We picked O’Lydia’s by Yelp because the restaurant seemed to have the elements we looked for; popular by locals, casual, fun, delicious, and clean.
Our expectations were correct. Even a little distance from the downtown and residential areas, O’Lydia’s was moderately crowded by locals. The restaurant was clean and our waitress was friendly. She suggested several good local beers after hearing my favorite tastes (I enjoyed multiple kinds).
Ok, Friday fish fry. It was really good! We chose “Combo Fry”, including Cod, Bluegill, Perch, and Shrimp. Outside was crispy and inside was juicy and tender for all fishes. My most favorite was actually Bluegill. Fresh, light taste, good match with the light panko crust. It was my first time to eat Bluegill. Bluegill was actually problematic species destroyed ecological balance of lakes in Japan (Bluegill was transported from Iowa to Japan in the 1950s), but I gained a good impression of the fish by the taste.
I wondered Friday fish fry was a real local tradition or a “tourism tradition” (you know sometimes the traditions guide books introduce are actually old traditions or mistakes). As I observed, half of the guests were consuming fish fry.
I asked our waitress. “So why you guys eat fish fry on Friday?”
Her respond was “Umm, umm, I don’t know…I didn’t think of it but I’d been eating fish fry in my family on Fridays since I was a small kid”. Ok, good to know it was a current local tradition.
#2: MOTOR BAR AND RESTAURANT (AT HARLEY-DAVIDSON MUSEUM)
ADDRESS: 400 West Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI 53201
Don’t fool around that this is just a museum restaurant. MOTOR Bar and Restaurant, the restaurant at Harley-Davidson Museum, featured a good quality chef and a variety of original menu. Yet the menu prices were good. The restaurant was large, clean, and nice view over the large window wall.
We initially planned to dine at a German food restaurant in the downtown area. As written in the previous chapter, we ended up at the museum restaurant because we felt like we wanted to enjoy at the museum a little bit more. We made a right decision because of this.
The photo above was Cheese Curds. Oh, it was so delicious. We could feel the freshness of good cheese soon after the first bite. And the cheese was comfortably melted inside of our mouths while eating. I was sure they use good fresh cheese for the Cheese Curds. Good combo with ranch dressing but without dressing was also nice and I could enjoy the good taste of cheese. I ate many of them without dressing. We didn’t get tired of eating them. I felt so Wisconsin while eating. I want to eat their Cheese Curds again.
For entree, I ate Pork Belly Burger because I was feeling bold and southern after looking at so many muscular bikes (lol). It seems like they don’t have the burger now according to their menu on the website. The pork belly was good roasted and tasted nice. But you can imagine, very high cholesterol!
The popular restaurant/pub with a really beer-ish name was located in Historic Third Ward, downtown’s commercial and entertainment district. We went to the restaurant for Sunday brunch. The restaurant has a large bi-level space inside of a very old commercial building, so the interior was successfully renovated with using existing old bricks and new wood materials.
Yelp gave 3.5 stars but I would give 4 stars. I ate regular omelettes menu, and it was delicious with fresh cheese (according to their menu, “omelettes prepared our way…please no substitution”). The omelette was big, 3 eggs. Our waitress’s service was friendly and kind.
The restaurant was packed on both floors. My question was, again, where those people came from while outside streets were pretty empty.
They were my experience of 3 years ago but seems like those restaurants still keep popularity and similar menu. There are many other popular restaurants and breweries in Milwaukee. I hope you will enjoy Milwaukee with great foods and beers. Cheers!