Milwaukee Brewing Company

MIlwaukee Brewing Company

Still broadcasting from Milwaukee, where day 2 of WordCamp Milwaukee 2013 brought not only a bonanza of geektacular mind candy, but also an afternoon bacon bar and an entire evening of free beer. Before waxing poetic about free beer, it’s worth noting the obvious genius of a bacon bar; it should be a mandatory feature of all gatherings longer than 2 hours, including weddings, funerals, business meetings, and court hearings.

At any rate, following 10 hours of WordPress edification, we were turned us loose at Milwaukee Brewing Company, conveniently located 3 blocks down the street. Though food ran out just as my colleagues and I walked in the door, fine ales flowed freely for the duration of the evening. In either a brilliant or reckless move by conference organizers, we were each handed a pint glass to be refilled without limit.

As mentioned in a previous digression, Milwaukee Brewing Company has been around for a fair bit (since 1997), but only recently adopted its “MKE” brand identity and current lineup of beers. As noted above, beer was dispensed without limit, so I was fortunate enough to “sample” most of them. The only problem is, well…I sampled most of them. Here’s what I remember of it:

Hop Happy (Year-round, 7.7% ABV, 51 IBUs): Tasty IPA with plenty of hops (Columbus, Cascade, Fuggle), and a bit of malty sweetness. Bonus: it was served with a light dusting of freshly-ground hops, courtesy of a repurposed pepper grinder. No kidding. More at:

Booyah (Year-round, 6.5% ABV, 20 IBUs): Farmhouse ale formerly known simply as Milwaukee Brewing Co. Farmhouse Ale. An exemplary specimen; one of my favorites for hot summer days. More at:

Outboard (Summer seasonal, 6.5% ABV, 13 IBUs): Cream ale; highly reminiscent of Lake Louie Coon Rock. That’s about all I remember. More at:

Black Iron (Summer seasonal, 7.5% ABV, 48 IBUs): India Black Ale. I bet it was delicious. More at:

Milwaukee Brewing Company

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Location: 613 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI ‎
Established: 1997
Specialties: Tasty beers in pretty packages
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My Take: The beer was free, but I would’ve paid money for it. Definitely worth a stop – tours on Fridays and Saturdays, which include lots of free beer and a token for more beer.

Water St. Brewery (Milwaukee)

Water St BreweryBroadcasting on location from Milwaukee this weekend, where I’m spending three solid days hanging out with other IT nerdburglars at a WordPress developers conference. In addition to indulging my geekiest tendencies, it’s a perfect opportunity to investigate the downtown brewery scene.

Four hours perched on folding chairs inside a converted warehouse during Friday’s afternoon session demanded a fermented remedy, so my compatriots and I headed straight for the nearest brewpub, Water St. Brewery.

Allegedly Milwaukee’s first brewpub, Water St. has been around for about 25 years, and has spawned 3 locations during its existence – downtown, Delafield, and Grafton. We visited the downtown outpost, which occupies an expansive, century-old building nestled among the many popular eating and drinking establishments along historic Water Street.

From the interior ambiance to the newsprint menu, Water St. Brewery bore an uncanny resemblance to Madison’s downtown Great Dane. Its beer was also similarly mediocre. The selection of 9 house-made taps spanned the usual brewpub styles – light, lager, weiss, amber, pale, marzen….seasonals included Belgian wit, black lager, and raspberry weiss.

Between my dining companions and I, we tried the amber, marzen, Belgian wit, and black lager. My selection, the black lager, was billed as a Schwarzbier, but more closely resembled a stout. Its thick texture and malty sweetness were not entirely offensive, but it didn’t offer the fizzy, refreshing experience of a quality Schwarzbier. Overall, I’d characterize it as “meh.” Reports by my dining companions on the others beers were similar, resulting in a score of 4 meh’s overall.

Water Street Brewery

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Location: 1101 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI (Satellite locations in Grafton and Delafield)
Established: 1988
Specialties: Unadventurous beers for the masses
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My Take: A near carbon-copy of Madison’s Great Dane, right down to the mediocre beer. 4 out of 4 nerdburglars give it a “meh.”

The Last Six (Pack)

So sorry for the delay; it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride, you see.

While I had no trouble consuming 30 new beers in 30 days, actually writing about each of them in a timely manner proved somewhat challenging. It seems that graduate school and early-morning beer essays become mutually-exclusive activities at some point.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t leave this endeavor unfinished; without further ado, the final six-pack, in summarized form:

25. Toppling Goliath Golden Nugget IPA (Feb. 13)


Style: IPA
Availability: Year-round
ABV: 6.5%
Hops: Nugget
Notes: Citrusy, fruity, hoppy, and delicious!
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My Take: Drink this whenever and wherever you can find it, especially in fine company at The Coopers Tavern.

26. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (Feb. 14)


Style: Marzen
Availability: Year-round
ABV: 5.1%
Hops: Not specified
Notes: Dark and malty with a thick mouthfeel; powerfully smokey aroma and taste
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My Take: Rauschbier (or “smoked beer”) gets its flavor from malt dried over an open flame. It pretty much tastes like liquid sausage.

27. Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye (Feb. 15)

Style: IPA
Availability: Year-round
ABV: 8%
Hops: Not specified
Notes: Deep coppery color; a little hoppy on the front, but no discernable rye flavor.
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My Take: Unremarkable and pretty tasteless, contrary to others’ rave reviews. Maybe a bad batch?

28. Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout (Feb. 16)

Bell's Double Cream Stout

Style: Stout
Availability: Seasonal – Winter
ABV: 6.1%
Hops: Not specified
Notes: Thick, smooth and creamy with intense coffee and chocolate aromas/flavors
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My Take: Perfect remedy for a nasty winter day.

29. Taj Mahal Premium Lager (Feb. 17)


Style: Lager
Availability: Year-round
ABV: 4.5%
Hops: Saaz
Notes: Light color, inoffensive taste. Pretty standard lager.
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My Take: Any lager tastes better with a picture of the Taj Mahal on the bottle.

30. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Pale Ale (Feb. 18)


Style: English Pale Ale
Availability: Year-round
ABV: 4.3%
Hops: Not specified
Notes: Hoppy, citrusy flavors on the front fade into a sweet, malty finish.
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My Take: Distinctly different in style from an IPA or APA; much maltier, yet still hoppy enough to please. A contradictory beer for a contradictory day. Thanks to Dave for furnishing this one!

While I’ve conquered 30 new beers in 30 days (and since embarked on a whole new decade) the fermented adventures are far from over. Stay tuned!