Soo Brewing Company, Sault St. Marie, MI

Today’s post is about a very important day in Daze of Beer history. This post is about the first brewery I visited post-my last job. I mean, yeah, did I end my last job like an eternity ago and did I visit this brewery also an eternity ago? Most definitely. But does that shock anybody? Of course not. Whatever delusion we all carried that I would become better at posting on the blog once I didn’t have a job were carried by the idea that I wrote these posts on my own time, which I did not do. I wrote 90% of all my content on my work computer at my last job during downtimes (or when I should’ve been doing something but couldn’t overcome the debilitating anxiety that made opening emails one of the hardest tasks to overcome in my day). Once I became a person “between jobs” (I am now, once again, gainfully employed so I feel like I am qualified to call my brief timeout from the workforce me being “between jobs”), I had nothing to avoid other than my bank account and I fell off the writing train.

But one of the first and only big “things” of my unemployed phase was I went to the UP on a whim on day. I woke up, not even a week after I had concluded my time in my previous personal hell, and got into Hector (Oh, did you guys know that I got into a car accident in December that total Hector who was in my life for not even 10 months? Pour one out for him, man, because now I am one of those hipster assholes who doesn’t have a car and my life is infinitely more difficult because of it… but back to the story) and we went on one of our last journeys together to the UP.

In all honesty, my intent was to land in Canada. I had my passport. I had my breweries planned. And I was ready to do it. But the problem that I discovered once I got within a mile of where I was going (and within eyesight of the border), was that the breweries that I wanted to go to were closed on Tuesdays and I would have to wait until Wednesday to visit both of them. As it was Tuesday, I had to come up with a new plan. But luckily, Sault St. Marie is exists both in and out of America, and in both of these lands, there are breweries.

So, I went to a different Sault St. Marie brewery that was a little more… dare I say… free? I went to Soo Brewing Company, in Sault St. Marie, Michigan! Now, here’s something else I had to contend with as a newly unemployed person. The “noon on a Tuesday” brewery crowd. I think I have mentioned in previous posts, specifically the one where I was in Philly?, that as a gainfully employed person, nothing prepares you for what it’s like being one of (or thee) only people(/person) in a brewery. But now that I was finding myself unemployed, I got to become that person.

So, I walked into this cutesy little store front to find a very casual “living room” vibe place. There were a couple of people playing cribbage who were friends with the guy working (who may have also been the owner) and my pick of the taproom. I ordered a flight consisting of the Mystery Table Ale, Soo Brew, Boom Baby IPA, and the 13 IPA.

An overall statement to make about this, based on my (lack of) notes and my Untappd profile is that I found all the beers very middling, which is also what I remember. Everything was very firmly fine. I was not a huge fan of the table ale but that’s also because I just really don’t like table ales all too much to begin with. I did like the 13 IPA a lot, marking it as my favorite beer of the brewery. But in general, the beers were fine. Just fine.

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But the tap room was wild. Like I said, it felt like walking into someone’s living room. There was sport memorabilia hung up on the walls and a groovy vibe of your friend’s step dad’s basement going on. The people playing cribbage were incredibly comfortable and at home there (but then again, they were definitely very close to the worker/maybe owner), and everything felt chill, albeit a little outside of my normal bullshit hipster comfort zone. The man working was also brewing at the same time, and it was one of open-to-the-tap-room brew ops that I typically hate because the smell of brewing is usually a little much for me. I think it impacts my experience. But they were running such a low volume, doing it for the love not the glory kind of operation at this place that it didn’t really impact anything. I will say, though, that while I was there the kind and gentle soul that was working must have been brewing an IPA because there became a strong whiff of something a little less hoppy and a little more… happy? What I’m saying is it smelled like weed but I’m off my game and don’t really know how to make a joke out of this.

Overall, it was a nice place. It was small but it was clearly done out of love for the art. And then it started snowing and I was hella pissed because it was far too early in the year to snow and I was planning on spending the night in Sault St. Marie to venture into CANADA the next day to check out those other breweries, but someone told me they were calling for 8 inches that afternoon and another thirteen inches over night into the next day and I was not emotionally prepared to deal with any winter driving yet, so I bid adieu to Michigan and headed south again.

But I will go back to Sault St. Marie again, probably this summer, and head into Canada to check out their breweries. I’m still very interested in the North of the Border bullshit that might be happening in craft beer. But as for this brief trip, I wrapped it up wildly quick.

Alright, guys, you might think that’s what I’ve got to say about Michigan, but my next post is set in Michigan City Indiana, and then after that, (if I ever get to it lol), will be another Michigan post coming hot from the Lower as well as some bonus content about Ypsilanti. Sit tight, I’ll get back to Milwaukee eventually… maybe?

Good City Brewing, Lower East Side, Milwaukee

What I was supposed to be doing on this day, the day in which I visited Good City Brewing, was attending an exciting double date day with Jake and my cousin Kaitlyn and her husband Andy where we were supposed to go to Third Space Brewing to celebrate their 2nd anniversary and then we were going to pop over the Great Lakes Distillery to just continue drinking until finally one of us blacked out, tripped, and ended up in some river. What happened, however, is Kaitlyn and Andy got tickets to the first Packer game of the season and canceled on us and so I canceled on Jake (or he canceled on me) (or we mutually decided to just not do anything) and my sister and I decided to just walk around the East Side to enjoy the natural beauty of a very lively, vibrant part of our city.

First, let me just talk about my love of the East Side. Everyone says Bay View is just “the East Side with parking” but personally, I find their vibes quite different. Bay View is where you move when you have your first kid. It’s mostly duplexes and there are yards. Things are spread out. There’s a Target. The East Side is young, trendy children who just graduated from UWM and aren’t quite ready to give up their lifestyle of drinking PBR at 4pm and smoking a joint in a dreamily, romanticized fashion out the window of their 100 year old apartment building while musing on the filmmaking masterpieces that Wes Anderson is cranking out bi-annually. You’re enamored with quirk and craft beer. You dreamed of moving to a city like New York or Boston or Chicago, but you’re stuck here. In Milwaukee. The East Side is as close to Brooklyn living as you’ll find in Wisconsin. They aren’t hipsters, not like the broke hipsters of Riverwest or the old hipsters of Bay View, they are just… aimless.

So Emily and I were wandering around the East Side, from Brady to North. And along our stroll from bustling Brady, filled with mid-thirties suburbanites trying to recapture their glory days of being untethered by kids and mortgages and corporate jobs and old hippies who were wistfully, publicly smoking weed and reminiscing about the glory days of Brady, when it was like Milwaukee’s own Haight, up to the Whole Foods on North where the crowd slowly transitioned into a younger vibe, college kids over zealously enjoying their first weekend of college away from their helicopter parents they left behind in Northern Wisconsin in the “big city,” we walked past Good City Brewing.

Upon our first pass, we were still full from our breakfast enjoyed at Qdoba with our parents (highly recommend Qdoba breakfast if you can find it somewhere near you), so we decided to put it on the “maybe” list for our afternoon activities and kept on walking. When we decided to return back to the car so we could drive up to Riverwest (always a mistake, I hate Riverwest people desperately) we walked past it again and decided, hell. Might as well have a flight.

Before venturing into Good City’s Farwell taproom and brewpub, I was already quite familiar with a couple of their beers that I had enjoyed in cans. Specifically their Motto APA that I have taken many places with me. Like to Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War and Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again. Okay, mostly I’ve just snuck this beer into the movies with me, but it’s good and I really like it. But what I was not expecting was to walk into their taproom and be handed a beer menu and to be confronted with 10 beers, 8 of which were in the IPA-family.

It is well established that I love IPAs. I could drink them all day. I’m even coming around to the idea of session IPAs so I can actually drink them all day without getting piss drunk after three of them. But Emily does not like IPAs and when you decide to split a flight because it’s noon and you’ve both got places to be (even if those places are just Riverwest) and you want to be a Good Blogger™, being faced with only 2 non-IPA options for beer is not too welcoming. Also, I find it lazy to predominantly offer IPAs as your beer options. IPAs are incredibly easy to make. You just keep throwing hops at the wall until you are satisfied that some asshole in a flannel is going to sniff it and say “wow, super floral” and then take a sip and with wide eyes proudly proclaim “DAMN that’s hoppy!”

But anyways, what we ended up getting in our four-pour flight was the Film Fest Lager, only available in September for the Milwaukee Film Fest season (yes, Milwaukee as a film festival, no. It doesn’t matter to literally anybody), the Varietal #9 which was Belgian style pale ale, the Motto APA, and the Reward triple IPA. As a good sister, should I have gotten a triple IPA when I knew that I was supposed to be sharing these beers with my sister who does not like IPAs? No. But did I have much choice in the matter? Not really. The breakdown was pretty simple. Emily really liked the Film Fest Lager, as did I. But I also was pretty cool with the Motto APA and Reward triple. Neither of us liked the Varietal 39, however. I think we’re just not very into Belgian style beers. Quite wheat-y in general.

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Anyways, the place seemed pretty sanitized. Classic brewpub with tables and full servers and garage doors that were open onto the beautiful early fall day. The usual. There was nothing that really stuck out or wow-ed me about the place, other than the fact that the food smelled so good. But the bartenders weren’t anything remarkable. They mostly had some drama about Dave Matthews going on behind the bar, and as it is no longer 1998, having Dave Matthews related drama is exhausting for me to listen to. Especially as a patron of a bar and not someone who actively chose to associated with people who mark all their major life events by who they were dating at which Dave Matthews’ concert.

I apologize that this isn’t a better or more informative post about Good City. I was just underwhelmed by the entire experience. I think my cousin Kaitlyn said it best when she told me “Oh, I always call that place Okay City.” Because that’s what it is. Just okay. They make a shitton of IPAs and they do it just fine. It’s nothing that I would go out of my way for. I can’t imagine there is much variety you can have when all you’re brewing is forty seven different IPAs. But there’s always next time.

And speaking of next time, my next post will be about New Glarius Brewing, found only in Wisconsin. Don’t get too excited, because I didn’t have any beer there!

Mittenfest, Bay View

Winter in Wisconsin is a long and bleak process that we must all experience at least once in our short lives. At some point, every year, about mid-January, the world gets dark. Very dark. Claustrophobically dark. Every takes down their Christmas lights and packs away their cheer until next year, and all that is left is a void. The sun never shines. There is constantly snow and salt and grime on the streets, on your shoes, in your house. No one can go outside. It’s too cold. Too wet. Too depressing. Smiling is something that you remember fondly, like a hazy memory, and you’re never too sure if a Good Day will ever happen again. Flipping through Instagram, you only notice the pictures of your “friends” in tropical locales and warm climates drinking margaritas on the beer or beers on the patio and wistfully remember when that was you. But drinking outside in the dead of a Wisconsin winter is as absurd and foreign to you as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

But then, magically, something comes along to change it. Something that does seem absurd on paper but in reality is a heaven-sent savior ready to shake loose whatever frozen depression had settled into your soul. Mittenfest. Wicked Wisconsin winters be damned, for the good people of Milwaukee will not go down with out fight. And that is what I bring forth to you today. The adventures of Mittenfest, right down there in Bay View.

While this is not a brewery event, I felt like it was worthy of content as the bar hosting this preposterously delightful outdoor street festival, Burnhearts, is well-known for their craft beer selection. Plus, they partnered with two breweries, Central Waters of Central Wisconsin and Founder’s of Detroit, which were both serving some awesome and rare beers. As well as beer, there were Old Fashions and a full bar instead Burnheart’s. The best part was, this was about four blocks from where I live so I didn’t have to drive or park or Uber or risk Monica trying to buy drugs from the Lyft driver (again). We could just walk. So, Ashley, Monica, and I were joined by Daze of Beer newbie Molly (who is the person who clued us into this event) and we hit up the mean streets of the most hipster part of the city occupied by the most hipster people of the city to drink beer outside on a brisk 20-degree day. There was live music, flowing drinks, and delightfully friendly drunk hispters all ready to make the most of the day.

And boy did we make the most of the day. I cannot recall exactly what we all drank, but I can give you an overview. I believe every beer I had was from Central Waters. I had their HHG which was an American Pale Ale that I really enjoyed. There was also a IPA I drank that I do not remember the name of. Ashley and Monica also tried their cider that was a vibrant yellow and kinda looked like pee? But they may have liked it. I don’t know. Then there was the coconut rum porter that Molly got that definitely tasted like coconut rum and the memory of past mistakes. None of us like this porter, let me tell you. Also, I have been poking around on both Central Waters and Founders’ websites to find out the name of it and to confirm that it was coconut rum and not spiced rum, but I cannot find any trace that this beer ever existed. But it did. Let me tell you it most certainly did. And I can tell you this with such certainty for several reasons.

One, Molly ordered it. And we all tried it. And no one liked it. And then I went to the bathroom, and while waiting in line, the two girls approached the guys standing in front of me and offered them one for free because they had also bought one and did not like it. And the guys accepted the free beer, didn’t like it, and then shared it with me, and I shared it with the girl behind me. None of us liked it. And then these same girls gave these same guys another one because their other friend also bought this rum porter and also did not like it, so these guys just gave me the beer. And the girl behind me and I shared it. It was a beer that no one liked but brought everyone together. It is a very similar effect the Kardashians or the Patriots have on people.

But anyways, by this time the temperature was dropping and it was snowing. The live music had wrapped up and it was dark and they were just lowkey DJing music. That’s when the dance party busted out. I don’t know if anything in this world can ever recreate the feeling of being drunk on beer and Old Fashions, dancing in an inch of freshly fallen snow, under a black, winter sky and blue stage lights with thousands of other drunk hispters who on any other day would be too “cool” to dance so silly in public. I met strangers and danced with them. I met friends of friends and danced with them. I was invited back to a guy’s after party, which I then tried to attend, but his more sober friend told both him and me and my friends that we were not invited. Which was a good thing because we left Molly behind with other strangers. Everyone loved everyone. The world felt warm and safe and welcoming. It was the kind of thing that you don’t often feel in the dead of winter on Super Bowl weekend in a state where their football team hadn’t even made the playoffs. It was good.

So, shout out to Burnhearts. Shout out to the people of Milwaukee. And shout out to Molly and Ashley and Monica for their undying devotion to drinking, outdoor activities that involve drinking, fun, and new and

#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!