Monday, December 01, 2008
"Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!"
—from the opening credits to Laverne & Shirley
On Saturday, the menfolk in our family took advantage of a little free time during a visit to the in-laws in Milwaukee to experience one of the reasons why the locals named their baseball team the Milwaukee Brewers.
We arrived early to reserve a spot in the tour at Lakefront Brewery. It was a good thing we did, because by the time the tour started, the line was out the door waiting for the next tour.
There are a number of reasons why this tour is so popular. One reason may be that the product sampling begins during the wait for the tour to begin (amazing how drinking beer seems to make the time go by faster). Or maybe it's that they refill your sample glass halfway through the tour. Or maybe it's because the sassy tour guide is also sampling their products during the tour!
The $6 price of admission includes four 6 ounce Lakefront Brewery pours of your choice and a real, branded, souvenir pint glass. There are also a few unique sights along the way, including three tanks named Larry, Moe, and Curly, and the chalet and Fiberglas beer mug formerly located in Milwaukee County Stadium.
Lakefront has won dozens of beer festival awards for its unique recipes, including the first beer brewed without malted barley or gluten-containing products, an ale called New Grist; and a 100% certified organic British-style extra special bitter called Organic E.S.B.
On previous visits to Milwaukee, we took in the tour at Sprecher Brewery, Milwaukee's original microbrewery, located in a residential neighborhood of Glendale. This time we just stopped by the gift shop and enjoyed Sprecher's unique mini-museum of local beer memorabilia.
A totally different experience can be had at the Miller Brewery and gift shop, which unfortunately was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Miller's marketing budget provides a more packaged experience (with a lot more walking across the sprawling facility), complete with multimedia presentation and mammoth gift shop, but the tour of the old caves and stories of Miller's Milwaukee roots should be required for any beer lover's trip to the home of Laverne and Shirley. Even at a corporate "macrobrewery" like Miller, it all boils down to the water, barley, hops, and yeast (gluten-free beers notwithstanding).
Reservations recommended for all tours.
Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
1872 N. Commerce St.
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Sprecher Brewing Co. Inc.
701 W. Glendale Ave.
Glendale, WI 53209
Miller Brewery Tour and Girl-In-The-Moon Gift Shop
4251 West State Street
Milwaukee, WI 53208
UPDATE: More reviews of the Lakefront Brewery tour can be found on BeerAdvocate.com.