Want to hear about one of the most delightful events to happen all year in the city of Milwaukee? No? Then get the fuck out because I’m about to tell you guys everything. Every year the city welcomes everyone everyone from all around into their fine city and tells them that they can just kinda mosey around into whatever building they feel like (as long as it’s on the list) and then you learn about the city and the things it has to offer! There are legitimately a hundred and fifty different buildings and businesses and organizations that welcome the public to come marvel that the wonders of what they do and how they help contribute to the vibrant and mystical aura that is the city. Every year there are some “spotlight neighborhoods” to lure people (namely white people from the suburbs) into neighborhoods that are beautiful and thriving, but they might not normally visit because of their inherent racism and fear. This year’s spotlight neighborhoods were Mitchell Street, MLK Drive, and Oak Creek.
Honestly? I did not go to any of the spotlight neighborhoods, not because of very true reality that Mitchell Street is very hispanic and MLK Drive is predominantly an African-American neighborhood but more so because I was hellbent on seeing every goddamn church in this entire goddamn city. And I did a pretty good job. And how did I reward myself by seeing so many churches all across downtown and the East Side? By starting my Sunday of day two of Door’s Open Milwaukee at the new Milwaukee Brewing 9th Street location with Ashley!
Here’s where my Wisconsinite shines through. Ashley and I ventured out to have an “early brunch,’ aka breakfast, at Goodkind here in Bay View where we started drinking at, oh, I don’t know, 9am? Then we caught a Lyft up to 9th Street, where we wanted to check out the Brewhouse Inn, which is a hotel that they built inside a converted old Pabst building. Honestly, the whole neighborhood over there is the old Pabst complex and some of the buildings have been revitalized and repurposed into new businesses or leveled and built upon. There are lofts and offices and various other things in that neighborhood and it’s very cool. Still downtown and quite walkable to 3rd Street or the Wisconsin Sports and Entertainment Center or (dare I say it?) the Hop, but kind of out of the way. No one goes up that hill to the brewery complex because up until the last 5 years, those were just abandoned buildings that were used twenty some years ago for making beer. But now they are being made into something more useful than just a waste of valuable property downtown.
Anyways, as I ramble, I should get back to the point. The New Milwaukee Brewing location. They still have their 2nd Street location down in Walker’s Point, but this new place is bigger and also a tap room with a full menu. Ashley and I did not eat because, as I mentioned, we just came from brunch (breakfast) but we were looking to drink. So we ordered some beers.
Ashley ordered the Oktoberfest beer because it was late September and that’s Oktoberfest beer season! I don’t like Oktoberfest beers, however, so I ordered a bold choice. A Hop-Freak, which is a 8.7% double IPA. And it was delicious. But it was too goddamn early for someone to drink two beers at 8.7%, especially since we had a full day of churches and buildings and hotels to check out. But that did not stop me from ordering a second beer, of course. My second beer was a Citron Saison, which, looking back on my Untapped profile, I noted that it tasted good but smelled off, thus making it a wild experience. And I do remember that. The bartender and I spent a lot of time trying to discuss why I might not like that beer but I also think I did like it?
And this brings me to a point that I do feel like I have to touch on, which is the whole vibe of the place created by the bartenders and waitstaff. First off, Ashely and I were sitting right next to the the servers’ drink station, so I overheard a lot of talk between the bartenders and the servers and guess what? They hate each other. Like, profoundly and deeply cannot stand the other person. Not fun banter. But palpable and uncomfortable disdain. They were constantly bitching at each other and nitpicking and then when the servers would walk away with their drinks and then the bartenders would shittalk the servers behind their back. This isn’t like me listening to bartenders talk about which girls they took to which DMB show like at Good City, this was like me being physically uncomfortable listening to the horrible things a pony-tailed bartender was saying about a blonde server. I mean, I hate confrontation, whether it involves me or not, but this felt toxic. I know that not all coworkers can be friends, but there needs to be a united front against the enemy– the customer, but instead, they were infighting. And it was weird to be around.
Overall, Milwaukee’s 9th Street location was everything I hated in a brewpub. It was clean, it was shiney, it had no character. Also, there was a lot of living wall bullshit going on, which I hate. It had no character and it was stripped of the history that the Pabst neighborhood contained around it. But Milwaukee still turns out some good beers and I do still like to drink Milwaukee beers, and MKE does still offer their “all you care to spill” tours that I would love to go on some day. But I don’t see any reason to cruise back up there just for a few beers.
Oh, also, on the whole “just grabbing a beer” front. The place is definitely angling themselves to be a restaurant first. When we walked in, three people approached us all together (maybe they were training or maybe they were just bored?) and asked how many. I said “Oh, we’re just here for a few drinks. Can we sit at the bar?” And the three of them looked at each other confused and were like, “Oh. Yeah, sure. I guess?” And then when we sat at the bar, the bartender really pushed their brunch menu on us although we told him several times “Oh, we just came from brunch. We’re just grabbing a few beers.” I don’t know if this was just an off day or if they really want to put a spotlight on their menu at this location and if you just want a beer, you can go to their taproom in the Third Ward (or just drink one of their beers at literally any bar in the state). I don’t know.
So my final conclusion is MKE Brewing still has great beer. We all knew that. Their 9th Street brewpub, though, leaves something to be desired.