This is how my friend best put into words my general feelings from my first day (ever) in the state of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee. How is this applicable? My initial foray into Wisconsin beer (non-New Glarus) was a mixed bag. Two trips to local breweries mostly left me scratching my head.
At Milwaukee Brewing Company my flight of beers offered something unique – the first cream ale I could ever stand. Every other cream ale I’ve ever had has been too watery and devoid of taste (corn not bring an ideal taste from beer). But somehow, Outboard gets around that corn flavor, even though it is an ingredient. Perhaps it’s the 6.5 percent ABV that adds something extra? Or some Saaz hops in a traditional American beer? Either way, it actually had some kind of flavor and a light bitterness that I haven’t found elsewhere. To put it bluntly, it was the least cream ale of any cream ale I’ve had. Somehow, this brewery managed to make (to me) a perfect version of an otherwise mediocre beer style.
My other favorite from Milwaukee Brewing Company was their Polish Moon milk stout which isn’t the “winter warmer” it promises to be with a 4.5 percent ABV, but is nice and sweet, but the lactose is best overpowered by roasted intensity that adds a great amount of body and flavor to the beer.
Louie’s Demise, the brewery’s flagship beer, was a perfectly fine amber ale that didn’t really have anything that made it stand out, but was good and something I could drink a lot of in one sitting.
The second stop of day one brought us to Lakefront Brewery, where another flight offered quality across the board, but nothing that blew me away. I loved – in idea – the Wisconsinite hefeweizen, which is an all-locally sourced hefe. The flavor was pretty hum-ho and everything you’d expect with banana esters and a bready backbone. It was mostly the fact they’re able to get malt, hops and yeast locally, which is just a cool aspect of the beer.
Another “stand out” from Lakefront was their New Grist gluten-free beer. The only other gluten-free offering I’ve ever had was the Tweason’ale from Dogfish Head, and New Grist was a perfectly toned down version of that. While the base of both these beers is the same – sorghum – Dogfish’s addition of strawberry and honey gives Tweason’ale a easily recognizable flavor. New Grist tasted just like Tweason’ale, but without any additional flavoring. It was a bit sweet with a clean finish, but not much else. Granted, this is what I imagine you’d want from such a beer.
One other novelty from the trip was Comet Cafe‘s “Brunch Box,” which was neither brunch nor a box, but was had with breakfast. This drink consisted of amaretto, orange juice, generic Belgian white and topped with Guinness. The orange/amaretto/Guinness combination was very good and seemed to enhance the chocolatey-roasted flavor of the beer a bit. Try making yourself – highly recommended.