Review: Lakefront Brewery Visit, 2010

In Brewery Review by Andrew

The beautiful brick-y Lakefront Brewery exterior:

Last month I took a trip up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to visit some friends. My only requirement for making this trip was that we’d have the chance to go on a brewery tour. I didn’t have a lot of time to research which tour would be the best, so I left it in the hands of my very capable friends to decide. Thus, we landed at Lakefront Brewery, located along the Milwaukee River (Yes, river…not lake) at 1872 N. Commerce Street in Milwaukee.

The brewery itself is in a building that used to be a coal-fired power plant. In 1998, the City of Milwaukee, faced with the decision of what to do with the building, had considered tearing it down. The owners of Lakefront Brewery, the Klisch Brothers, seized the opportunity to purchase the building in an effort to expand their own operation and preserve a piece of Milwaukee history.

In exchange for $7 you receive 1 guided brewery tour, 1 Lakefront Brewery pint glass and four pours of Lakefront Brewery’s beer…not a bad deal at all. The nice part about the four pours of beer is that you are allowed to take the beer with you on the tour, and they refill your glass mid-way through the tour. The tour gives you a good background on how Lakefront Brewery came to be, where they are going and a little bit about the beer making process. I will say that this tour is geared more towards a tourist crowd than a craft beer crowd, which is fine. The tour guide was funny and definitely knew how to work the crowd, however…

We tend to take our beer seriously here at GDB (but not TOO seriously) and so you can understand why I was a little offput when I asked the tour guide if they had any plans to start canning their beer. He quickly dismissed my question by saying, “Who wants to drink beer out of a can – it tastes better from a bottle or keg.” As we’ve seen with Half Acre, Surly, Oskar Blues and others, canning craft beer does not detract from the flavor of the product (assuming the product going into the can is quality.)

As a side note, when the Milwaukee Brewers left their old stadium, the Klisch brothers purchased Bernie Brewer’s Chalet, which is the giant beer mug that Bernie would slide into after each Brewers’ homerun. It’s located inside the brewery, a really nice local touch. Had I been thinking straight I would have taken a photo of the Chalet…oops.

Anyway, to the beer…it was rather hot that day in Milwaukee so my first choice was to try their Wheat Monkey Ale. It had all the characteristics that you would come to expect from a wheat beer, pouring a hazy gold and tasting of citrus and malts, but it just left me a bit unsatisfied…wasn’t what I was hoping for, and by far my least favorite beer of the day.

I moved on to try the Organic ESB which was a really good offering for an ESB. The bitterness was not overdone and the citrusy hops blended well with some malty goodness.

My final beer prior to our tour was the IPA, and I’ll say this was a pretty good. The hops were definitely not overdone, and I was a bit surprised at how smooth of a beer it was. They seem to have the balance down just right between the hops and the malts – not too overly bitter and not too sweet.

My favorite beer of the day was the Klisch Pilsner, which is no doubt named after the brewery’s founders. This was a classic pilsner; poured golden with smooth, crisp favors of hops and malts…really hit the spot on the warm summer day.

This was a fun tour and I’m glad I had the opportunity to check out Lakefront Brewery. But if I had to do it all over again, I’d take advantage of the Riverwalk Boat Tour which is a 4-hour boat tour, that stops at Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee Ale House and Rock Bottom Brewery – more bang for your buck, giving you an opportunity to see more than just one local brewer.

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Government by day, politics by night and beer every minute in between (and let's be honest, sometimes during) is Andrew's story. He works with his network of friends across the country to bring in new, regional beers and is always quick to jump when Ryan blows the conch to assemble The Guys for a unique vertical or cellar experiment.

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