Thursday, May 22, 2014

Milwaukee Beer

It’s the Beer That Still Makes Milwaukee Famous!

Our recent trip to Milwaukee for a college graduation also turned out to be a great opportunity to sample the local beers. And I was glad to find a wide variety of IPAs available. Although I was really on vacation more than an official Taste N Trip, I realized that I had a few good pictures to share when I got home, so why not write a new blog post? After all, it isn’t always about wine!
We started our Milwaukee trip around noon on Friday and stopped at Gordon Biersch in the Southwest terminal at LAX.  The California Pizza Chicken BBQ pizza went well with a tall Märzen, my favorite beer from GB. This Märzen has flavors of dark roasted malted barley and a caramel malt aftertaste, with a small amount of hops.
Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%     
Bitterness: 18 IBU
Residual Sugar: 2.8%
Yeast Strain: Weihenstephan 34/70
Hops: Hallertau aroma

Dinner with our niece, and soon to be University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee grad, Barbara, was my intro to the dining scene downtown. 
Barbara suggested Carson’s Ribs of Milwaukee and the food was excellent!  I had ribs of course. My first beer was a Bell's Oberon, a wheat ale fermented with Bell's signature house ale yeast, with a spicy hop character and mildly fruity aromas. Additional wheat malt adds a smooth mouthfeel, making it a classic summer beer.
Alcohol by Volume:  5.8%
Original Gravity:  1.057
Available: Summer, March - Labor Day

Devon & Ned ready for a Saturday brew tour.  Hilton Garden Inn, Milwaukee.
Based on Ned’s recommendation, Devon, Ned and I went to the Water Street Brewery for lunch.
Water Street Brewery
I had the house IPA and it was very good! I also had the famous, local Usinger’s Vienna Sausage and it hit the spot. I would have enjoyed a second IPA, but I was pacing myself.
The brewery also had a large collection of beer memorabilia and some cool neon signs. 

Pabst Mansion
Continuing on with our all beer theme we visited the Pabst Mansion  built by Captain Frederick Pabst, Milwaukee’s famous beer baron, in 1892. In 1908 the mansion became the Roman Catholic Archdiocese residence for the archbishop until 1975. 
Eventually it was opened to the public in 1978 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. 
We didn’t take the full tour, but we had a great overview just talking to the knowledgeable staff in the gift shop. The gift shop had an interesting past, it was originally the Pabst Brewing Company Pavilion at the 1893 Colombian Exposition, also known as the 1893 World’s Fair, in Chicago. The Pabst Brewing Company was awarded a Gold Medal for Brewing Excellence at the Exposition. (There was actually no blue ribbon, only in the marketing department.) The entire pavillion was dismantled, crated and sent back to Milwaukee during the summer of 1895, where it was added on to the right side of the residence.
After the Pabst mansion tour we caught the Preakness Race at the Milwaukee Ale House.  They had a great Garden Veggie Flatbread special appetizer and 16 ounce cans of Milwaukee Brewing Company’s Hop Happy IPA for a special $3 Brewers baseball game price. Go Brewers! Go California Chrome!!!
Brewed with three different kinds of hops, this IPA is balanced by the oats added to the mash. The oats not only add an unexpected sweetness, but also a heavier mouthfeel.
ABV: 7.7%
IBU: 51
Hops: Columbus, Cascade, Fuggle
Malts: Pale Ale Male, Munich Malt, Caramel Malt, Oats
OG: 18.4º Plato
TG: 4.0º Plato

My second beer (hey, the race lasted for SEVERAL minutes!) was Hop Freak Double IPA. It’s infused with Organic Jasmine Tea from the local Rishi Tea company. The tea gives it a sweet, floral aroma. Strong citrus notes come from the generous amount of American hops. Hop Freak is even hoppier than the Hop Happy IPA, but a sizeable malt bill adds balance to it out.
ABV - 8.7%
IBU - 80
Hops - Centennial, Cascade
Malts - Two Row, Barley Malt, Munich, Caramel

Meeting up with our niece and her friends we made a well-planned visit to the Milwaukee Brewing Company for their 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm brewery open house, only to find them sold out! Oh well, I’d already cleverly had their Hop Happy IPA and Hop Freak Double IPA at the Milwaukee Ale House.  No wonder they were sold out, with the low price of admission and the quantities of beer offered.  According to their website $10 got you:
  • MKE Brewing Pint Glass
  • Beer (Lots of it)
  • A token for more beer.
Plan B: We went to The Wicked Hop in the historic Third Ward for drinks and then dinner. It had a little something for everyone with a good beer, wine and mixed drink selection. I had The “Billy Bob” for dinner, a pulled smoked pork shoulder served open-faced on garlic Texas toast, topped with a tangy Carolina Gold BBQ sauce. It was pretty good, but I think I like a less sweet BBQ sauce, and the pulled pork was in huge chunks that were not as tender as I would normally expect in this type of BBQ.
The weather, outdoor seating, and atmosphere were all very good. The Milwaukee Pedal Tavern rolled by us occasionally. The Pedal Tavern is a unique operation—it seats 16 people who pedal around the 3rd Ward while drinking BYOB beer (up to 3 cans) and it stops at 3-5 bars, with seating starting at $25 per person. I guess the guy steering is sober.
I had an OK bottle of IPA from Capital Brewery in Middleton, WI. Mutiny IPA has a bright amber hue with an upfront florally citrus hop aroma. Mutiny packs a punch yet remains remarkably drinkable.
MALTS – Brewers, Caramel
HOPS –  Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Summet
ABV 6.2%
IBU 70
OG 16.2%

Post dinner fun included a trip down the street to Club Charlies. I liked the beer selection here better and I had a Boulder Beer Company’s Mojo IPA Nitro (on tap). I had a pint and a half of it. That’s because after drinking a half pint I realized the glass was cracked and sent it back for another pint.  It was a very good citrusy IPA, with or without the microscopic glass shards.
Mojo India Pale Ale is pale in color but packed with flavor, Mojo reflects the perfect balance of hop bitterness and malt character. The unique Amarillo hop creates a big citrus flavor with an ultra-crisp dry finish.
7.2% ABV

Club Charlies was a fun atmosphere with one of the best behind-the-bar-paintings I’ve seen in a long time. The very large painting is a combination of 5 Botero paintings done by Monika Essen from Michigan.

After Charlie’s we stopped back at The Wicked Hop again for a nightcap (it was on our way) and this time around I had one of my favorite IPAs—Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. It was advertised by this sign hanging in the Men’s Room…
Strange marketing, but it worked! 
That was Saturday… whew!

Sunday was graduation day and started with an excellent brunch at “The Knick” bar & restaurant located in The Knickerbocker Hotel.  The pre-brunch Bloody Mary was excellent, although I don’t go for pickles or olives in mine the way it is typically served in Wisconsin.  
I had a fantastic Eggs Benedict once I managed to talk them in to preparing it southwestern style by substituting a chipotle mayo dressing for the traditional Hollandaise sauce. And a second Bloody Mary with brunch was excellent.

Everyone disappeared immediately after graduation, so Devon and I headed back to the Third Ward to check out a restaurant still on our list: Swig.

My first beer was a Lakefront Brewery IPA. It pours a hazy orange with a rocky white head that lasts, and leaves soft lace on your glass. American Cascade and Chinook hops dominate the aroma, yielding a citrusy, floral bouquet. The hops give a nice bite to the flavor profile, but this beer is well balanced with a full body and smooth malty flavor to back up the hops. It finishes smooth and crisp with a lingering hop flavor reminiscent of fresh ruby red grapefruit. 
6.6% ABV

We enjoyed the fresh baked Pita Bread and Hummus starter, it was served with sprouts, red onion, feta cheese, and a tomato cucumber salsa.  

I had a special for dinner--Scallops and Brussels Sprouts with chunks of Pancetta and it was delicious!
During dinner I drank a Bell's Two Hearted Ale. It has an intense hop aroma and a good malt balance. Hopped with only the Centennial hop it has grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances the hop presence along with the fruity aromas of Bell’s yeast.
Alcohol by Volume:  7.0%
Original Gravity:  1.064


Wisconsin Beers
Bell's Oberon (wheat ale)
Water Street Brewery IPA
Milwaukee Brewing Company Hop Happy IPA
Milwaukee Brewing Company Hop Freak Double IPA

Capital Brewery Mutiny IPA
Boulder Beer Company’s Mojo IPA Nitro
Lakefront Brewery IPA
Bell's Two Hearted Ale

Other Beers
Gordon Biersch Märzen
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

 Seems like it's always Miller Time in Milwaukee.

All in all I guess I drank Wisconsinably!

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