Lakefront Brewery Redux, Riverwest

Life is short. I hope you remember that every single day you wake up and start getting dressed for a job you hate in a city you never wanted to live in in a state that has been suffocating you for twenty five years. Life is short. Why are we wasting so much time just going about our routines when there is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored? Well, I will tell you why. Life is short but it’s also the longest thing you will ever do. At the end of life, there is no part two. You’re dead. You don’t get to restart and go for a high score. This is it guys. You will die one day and there is nothing left after that. Your short life will be over and you will wonder What have I even done? Isn’t that the real question, though. What have I even done?

On a personal note, what I will have done is spent hours, days of my short/long life drinking beer and going to breweries and writing about it on a blog that only three people read. Is that what I want to be remembered for? As if anyone would actually remember this about me. But I have said that this blog will be our legacy, and if there is one thing I want to be apart of my legacy it is this. This time I have squandered in my mid-twenties drinking beer with people I don’t hate repeating the same things over and over again until one day one of us gives up and disappears. Did you catch the key phrase in that sentence? The one about how we do the same things over and over again? Just like how every day I do the same thing. I go to work. I look at other jobs. I wonder why I didn’t quit two years ago when I wanted to. Or a year ago when I wanted to. Or six months ago. Or yesterday. I just keep doing it. And that is what life is. Repeating and rehashing past events trying to capture the initial magic until one day you die and realize that nothing will ever live up to the hype. Not adulthood. Not heroin. Not. Even. Beer.

For this post, we fall victim to just this very thing, as you can probably gather from the title. We go to Lakefront Brewery again. I’m not resentful. I had a delightful time mostly, again, but it is just another mark in a life full of rehashed events.

So, this visit brought together a large crew of people who are virgins in terms of the Daze scene. We got some old standards to show (Jake, Ashley, Monica, and me) but along with them came JD, Danny, Claire, and Druecke, none of whom have ever been to a Daze of Beer gathering. In fact, I think this was the first brewery any of them have even visited in Milwaukee? Don’t hold me to that. I don’t know their lives. But in terms of great places to “lose it,” Lakefront is definitely on the top of that list. Not everyone’s “first times” can be special. Sometimes it’s just kinda average and you think to yourself, “Oh, that’s it?” And then you have to try again, and hopefully you figure out what the fuss is about. But Lakefront really brings something. They’re gentle and caring but still know when to throw in a spicy beer with a witty tour guide. They just really know how to take care of a person.

We were also going over Thanksgiving weekend, which is when Lakefront releases their special Black Friday Imperial Stout. Bottles sold out Friday, and we were there Saturday, but they still had it on tap. Limited one beer a person. Does not work with drink chips. And as a good blogger, I really wanted to get one, but as I am not a Good Blogger ™, I kind of forgot about halfway through the visit that I was planning on getting one at the end of the tour.

Here’s a quick rundown of the beers we had without going into detail on anything because there were just to many of us.

Listed in order of how we drank them.

Natalie:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Centennial IPa, Rendezvous
Ashley:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Clutch Cargo, Stranded Coconut Ale
Monica:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Clutch Cargo
JD:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Centennial IPA (traded in two drink chips for one full sized beer)
Jake:
Oktoberfest, Centennial IPA
Danny:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Pumpkin Ale, Hulle Melon, Oktoberfest, New Grist Ginger
Claire:
New Grist Ginger, Pumpkin Ale

A couple of things to note. We all found the coconut ale delightful but strange as it had a very summer-y feel but it wasn’t brewed in the summer, it was made in the fall. But that didn’t detract from it. In the bleak and cold Wisconsin landscape, it’s sometimes nice to have those little reminders that warm weather and joy still exist somewhere, even if it’s not, you know, here. Also, I really did not like the Rendezous. It was a style of beer I was unfamiliar with, and failed to write down so I cannot report back on, but I didn’t like it. I believe Danny and Monica helped me finish it. It was a dark and bitter beer that cut deep to my emotions without being kind, or polite, or helpful in the least.

And so the tour commenced. We had a new tour guide who was a little scattered and definitely still working through his spiel, but once he got the jitters out in the first room, he really came into his own. I know that it was by no means his first tour, but as a person who has professionally given 20 minute long guided walking tours through an environmentally sensitive house, I could definitely see that he was probably within his first ten or so tours. But nonetheless, he was a delight. By no means “underemployed theatre major” levels of delightful, but that probably comes with experience. Also, completely unprompted, but at the start of the tour in the middle of a sentence, another man came running in that works at the brewery with a beer for a tour guide, commanded that he chug it, the tour guide obeyed, and then we all proceeded with the tour like nothing ever happened.

I’d like to believe it is because we have become complacent with life and no long question the absurdity that arises in the day-to-day because the government has conditioned us to no longer see the absurdity. It’s all absurd. Every last moment of life. So no one questions the tour guide being forced to close his eyes, open his throat and just swallow the damn beer because that is what life is now. Just the constant barrage of commands being thrown at us that ten years ago we would never have dreamed of, but are just apart of our daily existence. Cell phones track our every move. Life no longer can continue as status quo. Bitter. Cold. Dark. Absurdity.

So anyways, Danny earned a free beer for participating in a nice glove wave. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, too bad. Go on the Lakefront tour and figure it out.

After the tour, we had another beer, and then pocketed our last tokens and headed over to Stubby’s to grab our free beers with dinner. Does that ending feel abrupt? Well, don’t fret about it because it didn’t really end. Nothing really ended. Life is still continuing. I didn’t cease to exist after our Stubby’s dinner. No one did. We all just kept walking through those moments step-by-step, together and apart. So we went to Lakefront again. And we probably will do it another time. And another.

*note: I didn’t take pictures because life is meaningless. Everything is constantly evolving but also unchanging. If you want pictures, just google Lakefront. You will see that it is all the same. Or check out my last Lakefront post. Life is all the same. Fortunately, we all die. Farewell.

Pabst History Tour, Milwaukee

Sometimes, late at night, when the world has largely gone to bed and my mind is settling in for a restful slumber in my Bay View flat, the soft whispers of distant voices pass through my head as I hear the words that are oft repeated to me,  Zac Brown Band is really good live. The words sit heavy on my heart as I give into a fitful night of sleep, tossing and turning, wondering if those proclamations are true. Is Zac Brown Band actually really good live? 

But there’s got to be something said about Zac Brown. His idea of what relaxation looks very similar to what a good Wisconsin weekend is. Sitting by a lake, remembering that time you went to Mexico once, but not really Mexico, but rather a resort pandering to white people so as to not risk exposing them to too much culture (and drug cartels) that allows them to drink as much as they want for whatever they paid for the all-inclusive pricing. But the lake is good enough for you because you have an iced cold PBR and another forty-eight in the fridge that you’ve inherited from all your drunk grandparents and uncles and cousins and siblings. That’s summer in Wisconsin. A cabin up north, a lake, beer, cultural insensitivity and pretending you’re drinking local when actually, the beer you’re drinking hasn’t been brewed in Wisconsin in over twenty years. PBR. That’s right. The beer of hicks and hipsters alike. That’s what we’re talking about on this post. Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

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Wow, let me start by saying, this post chronologically comes in about halfway through the last one. Oktoberfest was both before and after this tour of ours, but I felt like this was better saved for afterwards. Unfortunately for anyone who is staunchly against my tangents and is fuming with rage over the fact that the last post was not a brewery post, I have terrible news for you. This isn’t either! It’s a historical tour of Pabst. But there was beer.

Honestly, this was such a delightful trip but it’s been so long, I don’t even know if I remember much about it. Included in the tour was two drink chips, which seemed like a sweet deal since I think Ashley bought this tour on Groupon for like $20 for the four of us. So that made the tour like $5/piece and then we all had beer. You get your first beer in this old little bar that the Pabst employees used to drink in back in the day when they were still headquartered in Milwaukee. It was cozy, for sure, and they were showing a football game on the television. This is where we all got our first drinks. Jake and Tim both got a Pabst Andeker first and Ashley and I got the Potosi Tangerine IPA. Very Wisconsin of us, if I do say so myself. The beers were fine. I don’t honestly remember being particularly blown away by them.

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Then at the start of the tour we were all welcomed into this beautiful hall filled with tables and chairs. It used to be the corporate offices, but now is rented out for weddings and events. Also, important note, Pabst does not own this place anymore. A local historian bent on preserving the history of the city bought it. And honestly, it’s for the best. A lot of the old warehouses and factory buildings that used to be apart of the brewery are either being converted into urban lofts or being torn down so more condos can be built on top of the sacred, hallowed grounds of where one of America’s favorite* beers was once brewed. Say it with me guys. URBAN RENEWAL. Bet you thought I was going to say gentrification didn’t you?

In defense of forward development in the city, I won’t get into gentrification or well-worn rants about erasing lower income populations and minorities from the city’s landscape because that’s not what is happening here. These are just abandoned buildings that have not been used in decades and they are occupying many city blocks just sitting there, empty. On one hand, it’s sad to think about the history of the city being bulldozed, but on the other, the important buildings are being preserved while the ugly ones are being made into condos. It doesn’t make sense for that much land to be wasted by abandoned husks of memories. The land needs to be utilized. This is a city, after all, and that is prime real estate. Honestly, by converting and redeveloping this unused, uninhabited space into expensive, fancy condos, it probably staves off outward expansion and destruction of culture and heritage that thrives just north and south of downtown. And also, I know that gentrification isn’t necessarily a dirty word. Some people see it as a chance for a neighborhood to be revitalized and given opportunity for an economic boom. And I’m also not an idiot. I live in an neighborhood that was once populated heavily by Polish immigrants, who then moved further south and were replaced by a heavily Latin population. Now the neighborhood is very white, very young, very millennial. I am a part of the problem too, guys.

Anyways, we were in the beer hall. I don’t know if you remember that or not because I sure as shit did not. Here we sat through a forty minute long chitchat/video about the history of Pabst. We found out that it used to be called Best Beer, not because they were conceded assholes, but the man who founded Pabst’s last name was Best. It wasn’t until his daughter married a man named Fredrick Pabst who then took over the company so Mr. Best could enjoy retirement that the name changed. And honestly, dumb name change right? Like, it’s hard to get away with calling your beer “Best Beer” if that’s not your last name, but who doesn’t want to be selling their beer and telling people “oh, it’s the Best.” But I digress. It’s been 150 years and we’re still drinking it at frat parties and dive bars in the northwoods so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Also, at some point, Jake won a free beer because Jake knew what the word Pabst meant in German. This is appropriate to mention, because as I brought up in our previous post, Jake spent three weeks in Germany as a social experiment and I’ve spent years in the German Pavilion at Epcot. So, I will concede to him that his German education awarded him a free beer and my time in the German Pavilion has earned me mostly melancholic longing for experiences and people that I will never have the privilege to enjoy again. We’ll give Jake a win in this column.

Before we got to leave off from off from the beer hall into the old offices, we got more beer! Woo! Tim and Ashley got actual PBRs, I got my official beer selection of 2017, which if you do not at this point know what it is, you can show yourself out, and Jake got a Pabst Oktoberfest which he decided was his favorite Oktberfest beer (maybe of all time?). Then, we got to casually join a large group of people and check out some of the old offices. It was cool. I don’t really have more to say that is remotely intellectual other than the fact that it was just super neat. The old hall was neat. The abandon-y sad looking parts of the building were neat. Everything was neat. Someone even declared this the best Daze of Beer event thus far, and I would probably have to agree.

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After the tour, we got to just hang out for a little bit. We drank some more in the beer hall. I finally got a PBR to just feel the spirits of the dead factory workers who once worked on those hallowed grounds, making this very beer for every man (or woman) to enjoy. It was nice. The building is beautiful and old and captures the spirit of this city that I love and hate. No one stopped us as we explored a cute little balcony. No one cared. Everyone was just chilling out and drinking beer on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

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As I wrap this up, I would like to mention that while I have been talking about how Pabst isn’t brewed in Milwaukee anymore, it’s not wholly true. A few years back, Pabst announced  are turn to their homeland and owned a small craft brewery that brews actual beer. It’s just not Pabst Blue Ribbon. In fact, when I was googling to see what is actually brewed in Milwaukee, Jake and Tim’s Andekers were. Apparently they brew crafts and also older beers that had previously been discontinued to preserve the beer’s heritage and the connection it has to the city. I won’t get into it too much here because at some point in the future, we will probably check out the actual Pabst brewpub which is in the same mess of old abandoned brewery buildings still on Juneau.

While this wasn’t the best written or most interesting post I could have done, it was rather inspiring. Milwaukee has such a vast and rich history, especially when it comes to brewing, and it’s really cool to see something that has not only shaped this city, but has shaped pop culture. Pabst Blue Ribbon is a (in)famous beer. Country singers and rappers and my hipster roommate in Florida and JD Hartley all sing and talk and obsess over this rather unremarkable beer. Our grandfathers drank it. Someone of our grandfathers made it. But more importantly, this beer made us. This day was definitely something to remind us that Milwaukee hasn’t always just been a shithole, it used to be a shithole with a lot more beer.

*citation needed

Oktoberfest, Pere Marquette Park

October first is a very important day for me, personally. It’s not necessarily anything that involves beer. October 1st is a day that my life changed, even before I had a life to change. October 1st is the day that the world was first welcomed to greet the future, and experience imagination and technology, arts and science, world cultures. October 1st will forever mark the day that both the world and the World changed forever. October 1st, 1982 is the day the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow opened it’s gates and welcomed all of us to a place like no other. That’s the day my home opened. That’s the day my heart changed, even though I wouldn’t even have a heart for another 11 years. That’s my day.

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Cheers, baby.

But since my life is bitter and cold, I could not be home on such an important day. Instead, I was enjoying brunch and planning on attending the Pabst History Tour (post to come) while wistfully following all the activities of the 35th anniversary celebration by proxy through my friends on SnapChat and Facebook and Instagram. I did toast to Epcot at brunch while all my friends who don’t understand how to accept their lord and savior, Figment, into their hearts stared at me with deep concern that I had finally, officially, lost my mind. But then, like a sign from the heavens, while sipping a beermosa on the gorgeous fall morning, a man wandered past the establishment in which we were dining wearing lederhosen. At first we thought, Oh, maybe that old man works at the Old German Beer Hall which was just a few storefront down from us. But he seemed old. And then another passed. I got nostalgic for things like Werthers caramels and the currywurst of the Germany pavilion at Epcot and shared an antidote about how my adviser in college’s wife’s uncle was from Germany and when he retired he moved to Florida and now works in Germany at Epcot. Jake also spent a month in German and tried to steal my emotions by talking about how he’s actually been to Germany, but I couldn’t be deterred. Epcot was my home. Germany was just a social experiment for himself.

And so, we concluded our brunch, with time to spare before our tour, we followed the growing, raucous sounds of polka music and crowds of people and found what we were not looking for but have always been seeking. An Oktoberfest celebration put on by Milwaukee County Parks on the Milwaukee River. And that was the moment we made content on the fly. So, without further adieu, on this special not-on-format-but-still-on-brand edition of Daze of Beer, we drink beer outside and listen to polka at Oktoberfest.

As I said, we stumbled upon this celebration already in full swing although it was around noon. The delightful thing about Wisconsinites and Germans and people who enjoy German culture is that it’s never too early to have a beer, especially if you’re having a beer outside with other people. That’s hard science. Go ahead, if you’re sitting on your porch at 8am and there are at least three other people on said porch and you and at least one of those other people have a beer in hand, if you crack it, no one will judge you. In some niche circles, they will cheer you on. We have normalized alcoholism and it’s quite charming.

So, we figured, what the h*ck, might as well beer with the best of them. Jake, being the bold and bawdy bard that he is, got a litre and started with the Staten Oktoberfest. Jake definitely also started this impromptu content creation with the bold claim of “This is actually pretty yummy. This might be my favorite Oktoberfest beer.” And I trust him on that quote I actually wrote down, because he’s been to Germany and also, he also made some intelligent remarks on Third Space’s attempt at an Oktoberfest beer previously. Tim got himself the Goose Fest Bier. Then Ashley and I both got the New Glarius Staghorn.

We stood around and took some beautiful, well lit photos while I just kept repeating “This. Makes. Me. So. Happy.” I really like drinking outside during nice weather. It’s strange as a person who does not typically enjoy the outdoors, but I like being within the safe confines of  a city setting, as were on this fine day, with the sun shining, drinking a beer. But unfortunately, joy cannot last forever, and we could only drink one lonesome beer before having to say “auf wiedersehen” to the entire party to catch our Pabst tour. But fret not, fore following our tour, we returned.

Upon our arrival back to Oktoberfest, we immediately grabbed a beer because again, can’t just stand around outside and not drink. That’d be a waste of time. Jake got the Staghorn Little, Tim went with the Sprecker Oktoberfest, as did Ashley, and I got the Spaten Lager. We also grabbed some food. Brunch was far behind us and the fall sun was starting to lay low in the sky, and it was time for late lunch/early dinner. We all got brats and chips and also someone got cheese curds that were quite good. And in the tradition of German beer halls, we sat at a long communal table (actually just several picnic tables pushed together) and that’s when we were regaled with tales by drunken bags players about how the bags tournament is horseshit. They laid out their plight, expressed their emotions, looked for our advice, and Jake said, “Yeah, sounds like horseshit.” And that’s how Jake made friends with drunk bags players at Oktoberfest. Our German forefathers would be so. proud.

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We enjoyed some more polka, but the festivities were winding down. The beer wasn’t flowing and the crowds were thinning. Also, I had planned on a taking a nap that day when I left my house around 10am and now I was finding it closing in on 5pm and I was exhausted. So we gathered our lives together and headed home.

Next time, we hear more about that Pabst History Tour. It’s not a brewery but there’s still beer! 

Third Space Brewing, Menomonee Valley

Take a deep breath and breathe that in. Smell it? Feel it? That’s the putrid scent of failure my friends, and that smell is probably one of the most comforting things in the world. If we are back under the hazy, heavy cloud of comforting failure, that must only mean one thing. We. Are. Home. That’s right, friends, we are back in Milwaukee! God, it feels good to be back in the 414 where we can finally take off that riot gear, loosen our grip on our pepper spray, and purge any remaining Old Bay from our system. Okay, fine, maybe keep the riot gear and pepper spray handy, but trade in that Old Bay for some cheese curds and let’s rock and roll because on this episode of Daze of Beer, we are talking about Third Space Brewing!

As I have mentioned innumerable times across this blog, my personal Twitter, this blog’s Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, my real life, my fake life, and my Second Life, Third Space’s Happy Place is my official beer of 2017 (and maybe the rest of my life but I’ve only just started drinking it in February) so this was definitely going to be a special trip for me. We headed over there on September 16th to celebrate their one year anniversary with them! Well, I mean, they were celebrating it with us, the consumers. It’s not like an exclusive party. Again, this is a bullshit blog. I would never get invited to a real party. That’s only for Good Bloggers™, which has been well established that I am not. But honestly, how exciting is it for them that they lasted a year and in the course of their first year in existence, they immediately knocked it out of the park by making my official beer of 2017? How is that possible? How do people just start doing something and then are immediately like really good at it? I have yet to succeed at anything in my 24 years on this earth, and these people just show up one day and start making a lot of good beer? That’s horseshit*.

But anyways, let’s get back on track. Ashley, Jake, and I headed over before the surprise Brewer game that we were going to attend later that afternoon. Despite it being mid-September, it was hot that day. Like brutally so. I was wearing a knit crop top that fully exposed my bra without concern. That’s how hot it was. I put aside any notion of modesty because it was approximately a billion degrees outside**. But know what pairs well with a hot day? That’s right, a cold beer. Unless it’s a stout or a porter or most IPA and some APAs and a few other pale ale variations. But Landshark definitely pairs well with a hot day. But alas we were not wasting away again in Margaritaville, we were in Milwaukee.

 

So we roll up, park, and wander in. Immediately we hit up the outdoor taps because we are not amateurs and know that the best way to enjoy yourself is alcohol. It’s the most responsible thing you can do. Drink. I learned that from Boy Meets World. (Or I learned the opposite of that from Boy Meets World. Sometimes lessons get fuzzy.) In the spirit of the anniversary party, we all started with their special anniversary IPA You’ve Said It All. This was actually a delightful IPA, even on the disgustingly hot “fall” day. Even Jake liked it and he doesn’t like IPAs (not in the same way Nicole doesn’t like IPAs, but it’s still a thing).

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You’ve Said It All Special Release IPA

Jake’s official review on it, which is the only real note I made about the beer is, “It’s easy to drink with a hoppy finish,” which sounds so goddamn smart. Like, this kid knows what he is talking about. As we all know, as I am not a Good Blogger™ I usually just say “good” or “fine” or “bad” but Jake is quite articulate on his emotions. I am so proud of him. In fact, I am proud of everyone that joins me on these endeavors because I am watching my friends grow into these beautiful hipster craft beer snobs and it brings a tear to my eyes. It’s like watching the student become the master because, to be honest, I’m not sure I’m learning shit.

Along with the beer, Third Space had live bands and food trucks to keep these party animals rocking. The band that was playing while we were there was Life In a Tree who was startling good. They played mostly covers of pop-punk and classic rock music. And then we found out they’re sophomores in college and probably not even old enough to legally drink and it made me feel very old. Like ancient. Like, these kids are in a band and playing at breweries and also have to get back to their dorm at UWM so they can study for their econ exam on Wednesday, meanwhile I’m drinking to forget that I have learned the truth about life and it is that college is a scam and there is nothing in the world that even remotely resembles “happiness” or “joy” as it has been sold to us by the Don Drapers and real-life ad men in the world. And as I saw the darkness creeping into my vision from the ever-present looming reality that we will all die someday, I decided that was my cue for a second round. And Ashley and Jake followed suit.

 

My second beer was a That’s Gold, which was a traditional German style ale. This was the kind of thing that I needed to be drinking on this “global climate change exists” kind of day. It was refreshing and kind to me. Ashley got a Happy Place because, if we’re being honest, Happy Place is one of the few genuinely “happy” things left in this world. Jake went for their Fest Bier, which was their Oktoberfest beer. He found it resembled more of a brown ale than a true Oktoberfest, though, but he didn’t hate it.

At some point around here, I should mention that Tim showed up. He was going to the Brewers “away” game with us, but he had to work so he came late. I believe we bullied*** him into a You’ve Said It All because if you’re not going to try the special release beer, you can’t hang with us. Like, we are now all living in a different world than we once did. We are living in a post-Baltimore world and post-Baltimore Natalie is a changed woman because she had to drink a beer with Old Bay in it. If I can endure that bullshit, we can all suck it up and drink a delightfully delicious special release IPA that did not betray anyone by thinking it needed to put Old Bay or any other table seasonings in it. Third Space would never betray their consumer like every goddamn Maryland based anybody tries to on a daily basis by adding Old Bay to everything, like even the air. Thank you Third Space, and literally everyone else outside of Maryland who knows that Old Bay has it’s place and it’s not in beer.

We at some point wandered over to the taproom just to get a feel for it, but it was crowded because they were playing the Badger game on protectors on the wall. The upside was that the Badgers were playing BYU which allowed me to go into one of my well-worn rants about the state of Utah and the State Of Utah and Mormon culture and the time I got slut-shamed while walking down the street in Salt Lake City while I was dressed far more conservatively than I was on this particular day at Third Space. I’m not a hundred percent sure anybody was listening to me at this point because I think everyone is quite tired of my issues with SLC but Salt Lake broke my heart. I thought I was going to find the Promise Land and instead I found social isolation and snow in July (that technically was when I went into the mountains, don’t @ me).

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For our last beers, Ashley went with the That’s Gold based on my stellar endorsement (look at me advising people in what beers to get!) and I got a Unite the Clan which is a Scottish Rye Ale. I don’t know what those words mean, I just read it off their website. I do know that I liked it but I think at this point I was just really hot and I don’t like to drink when I’m really hot. Or really cold. You need to keep me at a constant 74 degrees Fahrenheit or else all systems slowly start to melt away. That’s why I only once successfully drank ALL the way around the world at Epcot, and that was miserable. It was July 4th, I had gotten drunk, sobered up, drunk again, and sober again in like a ten-hour park marathon pushing through nearly 50,000 tourists. I don’t drink when I’m hot.

But an important note on the Unite the Clans Scottish Rye Ale: Since our trip to Third Space in September, the beer has since won an award! The beer won a gold medal at this year’s Great American Beer Festival and the only Milwaukee beer to win one and only one of two Wisconsin beers to win this year. That’s pretty damn impressive and now I’m feeling a little hipster and snobbish to say proudly, Oh that beer? Yeah, I drank it before everyone knew it was good. But that would be terribly rude, now wouldn’t it?

Now, here is the part that I need to release a formal apology to Tim. I for some God forsaken reason have no notes about you buddy. I know that you drank a You’ve Said It All, and I know that you had a second beer, but I didn’t write any of that down. Again, this bitch ain’t no Good Blogger™, and I would like to formally apologize.

But anyways, this is where we ended our day with Third Space because we had to get over to the Brewers-Marlins “away at home” game, to watch the Brewers further blow their chance at post-season despite being God handing them an additional 3 home-games by trying to level the city of Miami in Hurricane Irma. The most important thing to note here is that at Miller Park they have a local craft beer pavilion and I was feeling a little sad about myself at this point because I went to Happy Place’s home, it’s happy place if you will, and I did not even get one. What kind of monster am I? So I rectified it as best I could and had two Happy Places at the game. Happy Place has the gold medal of my heart.

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Us at Brewer Game, less hot

And so that’s where we leave it. Next time we brunch and then accidentally create content on the fly, guerrilla blogger style (not really). 

*said with love and reverence (also I recognize that they definitely had previous brewing experience long before they just decided to sink a shitton of money and energy into their own micro-brewery. Like, they obviously knew they were good before I knew they were good.)

**citation needed

***or he picked it himself because he knows the nature of these gatherings, who’s to say

Union Craft Brewing, Hampden, Baltimore, MD

Honestly, if we were going to nail down the aesthetic of this blog it would be “simple yet focused premise but still cannot seem to maintain a theme.” Just look at how this blog has been going so far. How many Milwaukee breweries have we actually been to? Three? Sure, there have been other miscellaneous events and breweries here and there, but that doesn’t adhere to the premise which was simply visit every Milwaukee brewery and write a blog post about it to get a hands-on knowledge and appreciate for beer culture. See how simple that reads? It’s a great logline if I were to run into a producer in an elevator and wanted to pitch them my blog to be adapted into a Travel Channel show. Simple. But somehow I still cannot maintain that theme. So, that brings us to today, which is part one of four on our special Baltimore Series that shall henceforth be known as Good Morning Beertimore!

That’s right jerks! I’ve strayed from theme again!

So, I decided to take a long weekend to visit Nicole in Baltimore for her birthday and I figured, what better way to celebrate my best friend’s birthday weekend than by making her go to breweries with me although she does not like beer. So on Saturday, September 8th after bumming around Hampdenfest, we would hit up a brewery. Briefly, I will tell you that Hampdenfest was fine. It was a pretty run-of-the-mill street festival with food and beer vendors and a bunch of people just milling about. The one noteworthy thing to mention about Hampdenfest was that there are toilet races? I know. People decorate toilets and form teams and RACE THEM. Like, down a hill. There are costumes and cheering and themes. It was quite the sight to behold. But that is not why you are here. You are here to hear about Union Craft Brewing.

Union is also in the Hampden/Woodbury neighborhood, but since travel efficiency is not one of my high points, first Nicole and I tried to hit up a cemetery which was like fifteen minutes away and closed. So then we were like, “Well, we can check out a brewery now I guess?” And it was honestly like, five minutes from The Aveune*.

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I made it to the cemetery eventually.

Full disclosure, while I did want to hit up as many breweries as possible and Union was on the list, it was not what we were aiming for. We were aiming for Waverly Brewing, but could not find it. The GPS proudly announced that you are here! but we did not know where here was. But Union is on the same street and just slightly further down so we decided to start there, which I am glad we did because they closed at six and it was already a little after four.

The taproom is small, but definitely has that familiar craft beer charm to it. Along with the cute little taproom was also an outside patio that had picnic tables where people were sitting outside on the nice Saturday afternoon with their friends and dogs. There was also bags. Nicole and I ordered our first beers, hers was the Old Pro Gose Sour and I got the Royal Farmhouse Double IPA. Nicole loves sours and she did really enjoy this beer. I also liked mine quite a bit. Nicole, however, did not like my beer. I mean, I shouldn’t be offended because she does not like IPAs at all and I suppose I am not offended but she had a very vocal opinion on what it tastes like. Grass. She thought it tasted like grass. In turn, most of the rest of the weekend devolved into this following gif for the two of us.

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Nicole also really wanted to play bags with me at this point, or as she insists on calling it, cornhole. But the problem with this request is one, what the eff is corn hole amirite? But also, two I am terrible at bags. And so is she. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be for me and my street cred if the entire city of Baltimore found out how bad I am at bags? It would almost be as bad as if they found out I run a beer blog (which the entire city might already actually know because Nicole is a good friend who promotes as if it actually matters).

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For our second rounds, I got the Steady Eddie Wheat IPA and Nicole got the Mid-Century Modern Belgium Table Beer. First off, shout out to the guys at Union for just know what they have on tap and how to help out a helpless girl trying to get her life together (me). I wandered in from the patio for our second round and Nicole just said to me “the table beer one. It’s Belgium.” And I wanted to seem in the know when I got in there, but no matter how quickly I scanned the board I could not figure out what she meant or what it might be called so when the guy came over to as me what I would like, I stuttered and panicked and said, “I dunno some Belgium one? Table beer?” And then magically he was like mid-pour of what I wanted and was like “Yeah, it’s the Mid-Century Modern.” And I was like, you, kind sir, get it. And he didn’t even throw any beer-itude at me about not knowing what exactly I was trying to order. And that has taught me that I think I have a misguided fear about breweries.

Although now in my life I have been to many taprooms and many tours and many beer halls and gardens and keggers (two truths and a lie time), I still always feel like I do not belong there and that I will be met with judgement, but know what? People working at breweries do not care about my bullshit because they are just doing their jobs and do not care enough to judge me. They just see a girl who wants to expand her beer horizons and, more importantly, is willing to pay $7 for a craft beer rather than $4 for a Busch Latte. Sure, there are some elitist assholes that exist within some of these breweries who will side eye me, but honestly, I think I fit the profile more than I think I do. And that’s not exactly something I am proud of. I’m not looking to fit any profile and certainly not the hipster beer snob profile, but I dress just like the rest of them (homeless-chic) and talk like them (oh wow, I am definitely getting the subtle notes of witchhazel in this experimental small batch!) and I think like them (Bernie would’ve won if only we could have KCCO’d and if they would have released season 5 of House of Cards soon #UnderwoodUnderwood16 #teamFitivia #JedBartlettIsMyPresident). I need to get over my self absorded, self-conscious, “I’m doing this ironically” attitude and just drink beer and realize that I am the person who drinks beer. Sure I might tell everyone my favorite beer is Landshark, but honestly, my favorite beer is Third Space’s Happy Place. I am no better or worse than anyone else that chooses to spend their Saturday afternoon in a parking lot patio at a brewery in some trendy neighborhood in Baltimore. It is who I am and I should just embrace that about myself.

Anyways, comments on Nicole’s beer were that her and I kept passing it back and forthing trying to figure out how we feel about it. Honestly, it just sort of tasted like nothing. I mean, I kept saying that it tasted like a crouton which is just to say that it was very wheat-y, which is to be expected from a Belgium beer but since I am not like good at beer yet, I could only articulate that as “IT TASTES LIKE A CROUTON!” Again, if you came here for facts, you came to the wrong place. Honestly, if you came here at at all, you came to the wrong place. Go outside, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, do you really want to spend the limited amount of time you have on this earth reading this blog? If the answer is yes, welcome back. Let’s continue.

My second beer, the Steady Eddie, was good. It was another IPA, Nicole still thought it tasted like grass. I thought it was fine. Didn’t knock off my pants or anything (mostly because I was wearing a skirt but sh) but it definitely served it’s purpose. We had fun sitting around, though. But, sadly, we were only able to enjoy these two beers apiece because they closed on us. I mean, we knew it was coming. The internet did warn that they closed at 5, although did not actually close until 6, and we did arrive around 4. But still, it’s hard to have a Beer trip when there is only two of you and you can only get two beers apiece. It makes it hard to fully appreciate and sample a wide variety of the menu offerings. So while I have learned that five beers is too many, when there are only two of you, two beers/piece is not enough. I’m not saying that I need to drink more than two full beers, but just sampling the four beers between Nicole and I did not give me a wide ranging opinion on the brewery in whole.

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In terms of vibe, though, it was very chill. Very laid back. Overall, Union was a cool place. I would definitely recommend checking out if you are in Baltimore, especially since there aren’t many alternative options in the city.

Come back next time for more Baltimore beer! 

*not a typo

MobCraft Beer, Walker’s Point

I don’t want anyone to get overly excited, but I have some news. On the eighth day of July in the year of our lord two thousand and seventeen, something miraculous occurred. Something that has been so long discussed, dreamed about, longed for. Something that could possibly change the course of history, but mostly just change the course of this blog. On this day, July 8, 2017, Daze of Beer officially started.

Alright everyone, calm down. Focus back in. Let’s talk about it. Let’s dig deep on exactly what occurred on this day that made it so remarkable. Ashley, Jake, and I, with special guest appearance by Karen Smith, decided that we had waited long enough and booked a brewery tour at MobCraft Beer on 5th and Virginia down in Walker’s Point. As Daze of Beer progresses, you’ll start to notice that a lot of breweries we intend to visit will be in Walker’s Point. As previous stated in the CurdFest post, that has a lot to do with the fact that Walker’s Point used to be a very industrial neighborhood and now many of those factories and warehouses are empty and leave enough space to brew some beer. So over the course of the next few weeks (or months or years), we will become very familiar with Walker’s Point.

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Saturday was a beautiful day, too. The weather was warm but not hot, the humidity was low for the first time in weeks, and the sun was shining. It was overall a lovely day to be bumming around the city. So we booked our tour using Groupon, which got us the tour for half price. They run tours every Friday and Saturday assuming there is enough interest and included with the price of the tour is two drink chips per person good for any of the beers on tap.

Upon arrival, the place was busy. Or, as is so important to Jake for me to tell you, it’s was hoppin’. Don’t worry, guys, I stared at him with so much disdain for a quarter of a century to let him know that I did not approve of his puns. But, though, he was not wrong. The bar in the taprooms was two-deep and every table inside and the picnic tables outside were full of people. There were also some fun table games, like foosball and ping pong, that had some intense games in progress when we arrived. The nice thing about it, though, was that it definitely felt busy but it by no means felt crowded. The taproom was lined with garage doors that were all open to all for a breezy indoor-outdoor feel and allowing for people to be able to smoothly float in and out of the bar to get drinks and to allow the more nature-averse among us to take in fresh air while still shielding our delicate skin from the harmful rays of sunlight. The vibe was chill and the staff was friendly.

There’s a fear I harbor whenever I enter places like this, microbreweries in trendy areas. It’s that people will be so absorbed with their pretension that when someone who does fit the prescribed “hipster” look will be greeted with a cold judgement. That’s certainly what I had to overcome in Salt Lake, and it’s a constant source of anxiety. But there was none of that here. Everyone was just enjoying beer and not giving a shit about who you were because clearly you also enjoy beer, and that’s all that matters. No one had shitty hipster attitudes and no one seemed like beer snobs. Everyone just kept to themselves and smiled and cleared an inch of space at the bar so you could order your beer just like everyone else. Excellent culture.

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With our two drink chips in hand, we decided to enjoy a beer before/during the tour. Ashley started with a Booze Cruise which is a saison beer. Direct quote from Ashley on her opinions on the beer, “Booze Cruise was amazing. I could literally drink it on a booze cruise all day.” Seems like a glowing endorsement if you ask me. Jake got an Oddball first, which, as Henry, co-owner/co-founder/tour guide, described as “Beer flavored beer.” Jake loved it. Karen got a Man-Go Away, which was a double IPA which was heavily mango flavored. We all sipped it and loved it. I mean, what’s there not to like about a double IPA that also suggests that men suck and should just go away. Fight the patriarchy. My first beer, then, was the rhubarb IPA which was also just delightful. Our first rounds really set the stage for what would become a very hard act to follow in terms of Daze of Beer.

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Then there was the tour we took. I don’t want to spoil anything about this tour, but my major takeaways were:

  1. I attended the same college as Henry, the co-founder/co-owner/tour guide, at the exact same time and he was brewing his own beer and I was just fighting the urge to not jump off Winther every day. So clearly he succeeded at Whitewater and I was failed.
  2. I simultaneously love and hate people who are my age who have dreams to follow and live, while I cannot even imagine what my dream job would be. Good on these guys though.
  3. Anyone can make beer but it takes dedication to make good beer.

One of the coolest things to mention about ModCraft, though, is the way they decide to make new beers. They crowdsource to get ideas. People submit ideas on their website for what they think would make a good flavor, then if enough people vote for it, it gets brewed in a small batch. Then people can pre-order the beer and sample it in the taproom and if enough people drink it and buy it, it becomes a REAL beer. And if your beer idea becomes a REAL beer, you get free beer for life. Guys, remember above when I said I didn’t have a dream job to follow? Well, I still don’t, but I do have a general dream and it is free. Beer. For. LifeAlso note that I may have gotten the technical details wrong, but obviously this is all also available on their website which is definitely more reliable than me, a girl who just heard free beer for life and instantly stopped caring about anything other than achieving such a dream.

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My beer suggestion.

After the tour we got to have a sweet little gabfest with Henry, co-founder/co-owner/tour guide. He’s a nice guy who knows his shit and isn’t an asshole about it. Again, super chill vibes. Then we enjoyed a second beer a piece. Jake got the Roundabout Pineapple which was a weisse ale that he liked a lot. Also, shout out to JD who Jake purchased this beer in honor of. JD loves pineapple, helped talk me through the purchasing of this domain, and is, lastly and most importantly, not dead but we’ll still pour one out for him anyways because he lives in Los Angeles and that’s as good as dead, so… Karen then got the Oddball because we’ve already established that it’s just a good German style beer and who doesn’t enjoy one of those on a breezy summer afternoon? Ashley got a rhubarb IPA because I sold her on it as I am the best salesperson around. And my second beer was the Sour Support. I just adore sour beers guys and I am happy to see more of them and that they aren’t all costing like $12/pint.

At this point the taproom had cleared out a bit. People were probably moseying off to grab dinner or to hit up another local brewery. We enjoyed our second beers while also engaging in a cutthroat game of foos which Jake and I dominated our opponents, Ashley and Karen.

In summation, this must have been a terribly boring entry for it being the first Daze of Beer official outing, but goddamn this place was just outstanding. And it sucks that there are other breweries that are going to have to try to beat this act. I know that everything else from here will probably also be brilliant and enjoyable in their own ways, but this really set a high bar. I cannot wait to go back to MobCraft to just hangout in the taproom on a beautiful afternoon (especially if Ashley does move to Bay View) and I cannot wait to see what beers they brew next. Everything we drank was flavorful and developed and distinguished. The people were not assholes. The entire atmosphere just welcomed you in like a warm hug. Too much? Well, I don’t care. I’m glad we could start our journey here and here’s to the next outing, whatever that may hold.

#CheersToMKE

In the infamous words from the band Staind, it’s been awhile. But fear not, for there is some serious content coming your way. So buckle up and listen to me explain to you why living in the Milwaukee area has some perks occasionally. One such perk is the joyful marketing team at MillerCoors, who, to celebrate Miller Brewing’s 160th year in Milwaukee, treated it’s fine citizens to a free surprise concert. It was simple, go to the Girl in the Moon Gift Shop at the brewery or post a picture of yourself enjoying one of the many fine Miller products online with the hashtag #CheersToMKE for a chance to win tickets.

The concert was announced on June 2nd and was to be held at the Riverside Theatre the following Friday, June 9th. Since I am both a good friend and happen to work approximately a mile from the brewery, I volunteered to head over to the gift shop after work in attempt to acquire tickets. As to be expected, tickets were limited. The Riverside seats approximate 2,500 people and since the concert was free, I was fully prepared to try to throw an elbow to get tickets for myself and the crew. Unexpectedly, though, I had no issue acquiring two tickets at the gift shop. The downside, though, was that I needed three tickets and they limited my lone self to two.

The following morning, my mother graciously volunteered to head over the gift shop in attempt to secure those final two tickets for me, but discovered that after less than a day, the gift shop was already completely out of tickets. This left me with the grand task of having to win tickets in order to get both Jake and Ashley into this concert rather than having to stage some sort of Hunger Games fight to the death in a field surrounded by fire and poison berries situation.  Of course, the only requirement for winning is posting a photo of yourself online enjoying an ice cold Miller beer, it was not a hard task to complete. As can be expected, I won a second pair of tickets.

Now, before I go on, you may be wondering why this is worthy of content. First of all, shut up. I hate being questioned. Second, did you miss it? This is a beer themed concert hosted by a leader in the cheap beer your grandpa drinks in the garage industry. Miller Brewing! Plus, it was a fine tribute to this beautiful city! Stop doubting me. Third, I need fucking content okay?

Day of the concert, we arrived around quarter after six although doors weren’t set to open until seven thirty because there were talks that over forty five hundred tickets had been given out, which is approximately two thousand tickets more than there are seats. So we waited in line. And waited. And watched some line drama. We talked to a few kind people ahead of us. We watched the paddle taverns float down the Milwaukee River**. Watched more line drama. Took some selfies. And then we got to go in! Yay!

The surprise band playing was Chevy Metal, a heavy metal rock and roll cover band. Was I disappointed? Of course not. I love concerts. Did we drink a ton of beer and dance to every song regardless of how well we knew it or not? Well, I mean, I did. I don’t know about Jake or Ashley. I was in a zone guys. A Summer Shandy and Miller Genuine Draft fueled zone. The women next to me did not appreciate my zone, however, nor did about half the theatre that dutifully sat in their seats and nodded in appreciation at covers of songs such as My Sharona and Ziggy Stardust as if they were at a Jason Isbel concert listening to mournful Americana about teen pregnancy and the decay of the Rust Belt. The woman standing immediately next to me literally covered her ears for half the show. Some people just do not know how to rock.

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Example of people around us not having fun.

Overall, though, it was a great night. We had fun, immense fun. Thanks to Miller Brewing for actually putting the show on. Of course the cynics in the world would love to point out that this is a brilliant marketing stunt to get us to drink more Miller products and how all the beer served in the theatre was only beers brewed or owned by Miller, that doesn’t bother me. Miller-owned beer is always the only thing served at the any of the Pabst theatres because this is Milwaukee. Besides, people do not realize just how many of our favorite beers are brewed by breweries already owned by MillerCoors. It was a fun, cheap night out in the city with good music and good beer and good friends. It was a fabulous kickoff for the Daze of Beer slate of experiences, and I look forward to however the rest of the summer (or our lives) playout surrounded by beer.

Thanks MillerCoors. Thanks Pabst Theatre Group.

**Hey guys, check out the later added BONUS CONTENT about what we talked about in line!