Milwaukee pub crawl

By Gregg Smith

Is there anyplace in the United States more widely known as "Beer City" than Milwaukee? Following the great fire Chicago had a ruined water supply, Milwaukee brewers came to the city's aid with enormous shipments of beer. The brand loyalty obtained through this generosity secured its position as America's brewing center.

How often can you walk from an airport to a great bar when your flight gets canceled? It's possible in Milwaukee, although you may want to take a cab. Start your tour at he Landmark 1850 Inn 5905 S.Howell (414) 769-1850. Milwaukee's oldest Tavern is complete with tin ceiling and the warmth of original woodwork. The emphasis is equally shared between conversational socializing and beer. There are only 45 different beers but when all of those are on tap it qualifies as a pretty good bet. If you plan to visit often it might be wise to join their "Suds Club" which like other's encourages members to try different beers with awards.

The next stop is just down the road at the Port of Hamburg 5937 S. Howell (414) 747- 9151. This is what a neighborhood bar looks like - a house that became a bar. It appears they took out the living room and front bedroom to make the bar. However, unlike most neighborhood places, this one has a truly great beer list which focuses on German beers but includes a thoughtful selection of others. As if the beer wasn't enough there's also a juke box with a rather eclectic mix that even includes polkas and from behind the bar they sell super-premium chocolate bars. (Don't scoff at the beer-chocolate marriage 'till after you've tried the contrast of a dark bitter beer with chocolate.)

You could almost leave Milwaukee after these two but there's lots more to check out. So get in a cab and head to the White Horse Inn (aka Kneisler's) at 2900 S. Kinickinnic (414) 483-2900 This is another of the neighborhood bars for which Wisconsin is so famous. There's a good number of beers on draft and bottles. Order up your beer and check out the nifty back bar then consider trying your hand at darts. Milwaukee's also a port, so before you leave take time to check out the collection of antique ship items.

It's another cab ride up toward the downtown and the Gasthaus Zur Krone 839 South 2nd Street (414) 647-1910. Of course it's always dangerous putting such a comfortable place so early in a bar tour; you might not ever leave. A corner bar, the Gasthaus Zur Krone looks somewhat like a row house from the outside (mind the steps.) Inside awaits a wonderful bar decorated around the tap room with faux barrel ends representing many of the beers available. There's a small grill for food orders, and since Milwaukee was settled by Germans, the sausage industry remains strong to this day. Find out what the wurst of the day is, but the emphasis is beer. As you stand at the bar there's twenty taps. Ask for a recommendation, it's a sure conversation starter. If the taps don't satisfy you just turn around. On the opposite wall are coolers with a range of bottles surpassing 200 choices.

Head north again into the downtown to John Hawks Pub 100 E.Wisconsin Ave. (414) 272-3199 A departure from the norm in America dairy land, the pub is English style with 8 taps from the island kingdom and 34 additional beers from other countries acknowledged. During the summer the beer garden overlooking the Milwaukee River is too appealing to resist; in the winter browse through the art collection.

It's north again, on Water Street and a block past the performing arts center to two more beer destinations. At 1101 North there's the Water Street Brewery (414) 271-9560 which features it's own brews along with bottled beers from others. You can sip these in a relaxing atmosphere with piped in jazz. A bit father north is Rosie's Waterworks at 1111 N. Water (414) 274-7213 In addition to the beer list, which includes a dozen taps and 20 bottles, Rosie's has wine and a full bar. This is the oldest member of the North Water Street Tavern and Restaurant Association and as the name implies there are a great number of other bars along this stretch. Rosie's also carries a good range of local products.

From Water street head west on State cross the bridge to 3rd and then north to Mader's 1041 N. 3rd Street. Although more of a restaurant than a bar and a bit expensive because of its reputation as a tourist spot, this is Milwaukee's most famous German place, and it does have a thorough beer list.

In the mood for something other than German food? Keep heading west on State out past Miller Brewing to Saz's 5539 W. State St. (414) 453-2410 with 14 taps and 14 more in bottles this is a classic roadhouse type bar, located near the river and along the tracks. There's enough dark character to forgive the pinball machines and TV's. The ribs are the menu specialty and consistently ranked the best in town.

After Saz it's time to head back toward the lake, to The Brown Bottle on 221 W. Galena Court (414) 271-4444. (actually located on Cherry between Water and 3rd - Galena is the mailing address but it's more of a back alley.) Originally a bar opened to commemorate the introduction of brown bottles by Schlitz (which protect beer from the harmful effects of sunlight) the barroom is a truly beautiful re-creation of a German inn from the 1800's. All the oaken woodwork was scavenged from European castles. Draft beers are limited by only three taps but there are well over 100 bottles from which to choose.

Gregg Smith


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