Milwaukee’s craft beer scene is booming, with ten new breweries opening in the area in 2016. With so many to visit, it’s hard to pick the best. Here are some favorites… two old and two new:

Lakefront Brewery / Brewery
According to brewery president Russ Klisch, the business began when his brother, Jim, expressed an interest in brewing, and Russ obliged by giving him a book on homebrewing. Impressed with Jim’s beer, Russ decided he could brew a better one. In short, sibling rivalry and common interest led both brothers to start entering homebrew contests and win prizes. It wasn’t long before family and friends encouraged them to turn their hobby into a business.

They started brewing with 55 gallon stainless steel drums and used dairy equipment. On December 2, 1987 they sold their first keg of beer at the Gordon Park Pub. With the brewery up and running, the infamous tour began soon after! As Lakefront’s popularity grew, so did its production: in 1988, sales increased to 72 barrels; for 1989, 125 barrels; and sales began to double after that.

The tour is one of the best in the city. The guides are extremely enthusiastic, especially when the tour is led by one of the Klisch brothers. It was one of the first brewery tours where you were allowed to drink beer before, during and after the tour. One of the fun parts is listening to Laverne and Shirley’s theme song as they demonstrate the bottling line.

The brewery is located in a large brewery space, with high ceilings, brick walls, and communal tables. It’s right on the river bank, with a patio in the back. The brewery was transformed from a basic brewery, where beer was only available with the tokens you would receive on a tour. They then became popular for their fried fish on Friday nights. They now serve a variety of basic bar food all the time (counter service) and all beer is available for purchase at the bar.

Some options are salads, sandwiches, tacos, pretzels, cheese and sausage boards, as well as desserts. On a recent visit, they had 12 beers on tap. They are also one of the first breweries in the country to offer organic and gluten-free beers.

Favorite Beers:
• Eastside Dark Munich Dunkel – Sweet and toasty taste, wonderfully smooth and drinkable, not at all intimidating.
• Fuel Cafe Organic Stout: excellent and attractive aroma, full-bodied, roasted malt in all its evidence.

Sprecher Brewing Company
Sprecher Brewing Co. was founded in 1985 by Randal Sprecher, a former brewing supervisor at Pabst Brewing Company. From 1985 to 1994, the brewery was located at 730 W. Oregon Street in the Walker’s Point area of ​​Milwaukee. During the first ten years, the company grew steadily, as more and more people became aware of Sprecher’s high-quality beers and soft drinks. Finally, the company had outgrown its original facility and began looking for a new location to continue its growth. In 1994, Sprecher purchased its current building, located at 701 W. Glendale Ave., a former elevator car factory. The new, larger brewery allowed the company to continue to grow.

The gift shop/tasting room is open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm Tours are available daily for $6; check website for hours. You must call ahead to reserve.

In the past, Randal Sprecher would host tours of the brewery, made memorable by his obvious passion for the craft. For a slightly different experience, he tries one of Reserve’s tastings offered on weekends for $20. Reserve tastings are conducted in smaller groups than regular tours/tastings and feature the company’s premium and limited edition products. Each guest will receive ten samples of Sprecher beers, each paired with a different craft cheese.

They offer five beers all year round, five premium reserves, as well as seasonal beers, as well as a wide variety of soft drinks. They are well known for their root beer.

Although they don’t serve food at the brewery (other than cheese), they have opened four pubs, located in Glendale, Lake Geneva, Madison, and Wisconsin Dells. The Lake Geneva location is a favorite, right on the lake shore with a nice outdoor terrace. The Glendale pub is also nice, located in the Bayshore Town Center mall. They have a very good menu with German and American options, happy hour Monday through Friday, as well as assorted daily specials.

Favorite beer:
Black Bavarian – the best Schwarzbier brewed in the US; Huge roast character, full malt body.

The Fermentary
Located just outside of Cedarburg, The Fermentorium opened in early 2016. Founder and President, Kristopher Volkman is a locally bred homebrewer.

Currently offering ten beers on tap with plans to expand, the brewery also distributes to restaurants and bars throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

The tap room is currently open Tuesday through Friday from 4 pm to 10 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 10 pm It is a modern, very open, comfortable space to hang out and drink beer. The preparation area is in the right half of the room, separated by a wall of windows, so you can see the process.

For a newly opened establishment, they are already brewing several outstanding beers, so it was difficult to narrow down the favorites.

Favorite Beers:
• Strawberry Shortcake – Berliner Weisse; great combination to balance acidity and strawberry.
• Salvo Paso – Carrier; Great roasted malt flavor, pungent malt aroma, excellent example of style.

good beer town
His motto is “Seek the good”. The first brewery on Milwaukee’s east side, Good City, opened in June. The three founders connected in 2015 and immediately hit it off, sharing a love of craft beer and Milwaukee’s untapped potential. Andy Jones is a brewmaster who left Goose Island Brewing in Chicago to move to Milwaukee and work for Lakefront Brewery as plant manager for six years. David Dupee is an entrepreneur with a background in securities and regulatory compliance, founder of the crowdfunding platform CraftFund, which was formed to help food and beverage companies raise capital from passionate customers and local residents. Dan Katt is a real estate developer from Milwaukee.

Good City has a modern, airy tap room with a large bar area, outdoor seating, and shiny fermenters fresh out of the wrapper. The menu offers a good variety of sandwiches, cheeses and meats, salads, prepared food and dinner entrees. No more than seven options in each category, so the choices aren’t overwhelming (a good thing). There are several vegetarian items. There are ten beers on tap.

Favorite Beers:
• Pils: medium body, hoppy Czech style, silky smooth.
• Detail Porter – Roasted coffee and deep, dark chocolate flavors dominate; excellent example of style.

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