This is not going to make me look good. Really, I’m too old for this, but these things happen. Especially in a town known for its beer culture and history. I think you know where this is going…
I spent the afternoon with Milwaukee Food & City Tours that began with Dock18 (Bittercube & Twisted Path) as mentioned in my last post. The next day, when I woke up and looked at my pictures I stopped on the very first one (which was actually the last picture I’d taken the day before).
“What in the world is this?” I laughed.
“You don’t remember?” my teen-aged daughter (and designated driver) asked.
“It’s the flip chart page those guys at Urban Harvest used to come up with their name.”
Oh. That sounded vaguely familiar. It was all starting to come back to me. Our guide Robert had urged me to take picture of the brainstorming map you’re looking at now. It describes the convoluted genius that went into the name, but I can’t for the life of me remember any of the details. I do remember the theater chairs though. In the back room of this quirky microbrewery are a few rows of theater chairs that face a small stage.On Saturday nights, you may be able to catch an improv or stand-up show.
We nibbled on popcorn as Steve explained that he and his partner had found this place on Craigslist. There was little description, but they bought it and launched their business in 2016 with four beers. Steve might have delayed the opening even longer in keeping with his perfectionist ways, but one night, they decided it was time and switched their sign on facebook to “Open.”
All of the microbreweries Robert took me to on my afternoon tour had stories behind them. Kevin, the mastermind behind Third Space, explained its name. “You have home, and work. You need a third space to relax.”
Unlike some amateur home brewers, Kevin actually earned a degree in Brewing at UC-Davis in California and is an award-winning master brewer. He brought his expertise back to Milwaukee and opened Third Space: a 30-barrel brewhouse. One of his beers, the Midwest Pale Ale, is even served at the Brewers’ stadium in a section dedicated to Milwaukee. I’d definitely down a couple of those during a baseball game!
Drinking beer is almost mandatory in Milwaukee, it seems. Robert told me tales of growing up in this beer city.
“We’d take field trips to the major breweries in 5th-8th grades. Each year, we’d go to one of the Big 4: Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, or Miller. All the parents wanted to volunteer for these trips.” No doubt!
“Beer was a way of life for Milwaukeeans. It used to be that a beer cart would come through work places at 9:00am. Then they’d come again at lunch time, and again at 1:30. Most work places had beer fridges stocked with beer. These were separate from the regular refrigerators. Each person drank an average of a gallon of beer a day; more if you worked in a brewery.”
I wonder if anyone ever got any work done? But as Robert explained, the water in the city had been polluted for so long that it was safer to drink beer and the culture grew out of that. It reminded me so much of the history and lifestyle I learned about on my Guinness tour in Ireland: drinking beer is healthy.
Good City Brewing, another up-and-coming microbrewery created by a former Milwaukeean who came back to his hometown and partnerd with two friends to create Good City Brewing, says it’s all about excellent craft beer, lasting friendships and a commitment to seeking the good. They opened their brewhouse/restaurant in what used to be a car wash. You can still see the drains. And now they’ve opened a rooftop patio that seats 100. It was completely packed on the afternoon I was there. There were also a few seats on the sidewalk out front where people stopped by with their dogs. Good City sets out bowls of water for the dogs, but I have a feeling they’d prefer one of the amazing beers on offer.
I tasted several beers in every microbrewery we visited. I cannot pick a favorite but can say that I didn’t try a single beer I didn’t like. I may not be able to explain the flipchart diagram on my camera, but I can say that Milwaukee’s brewing culture is alive and well!
Help me save my dignity! Please tell me you’ve discovered pictures on your camera that you don’t remember taking, either. 🙂