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Interlude: Breweries and more in Greater Milwaukee

I have a dilemma for what to blog about: Since I haven’t been on my bike for the last two days, how much do I focus on the beers, and how much do I talk about exploring greater Milwaukee in general? Either way, I have a lot of photos to make up for the lack of photos in my last post.

Let’s start with yesterday. Katie had hyped me up to her coworkers and they were all very curious to meet this crazy guy biking across the country. Her manager was nice enough to invite us over to his place for lunch. He has a great lakefront property.

After Katie finished work for the day, another friend of hers joined us and we headed over to Raised Grain, which had been recommended to me as one of the best breweries in greater Milwaukee and which she also liked from having had their beers at bars. Even before I tried the beer, I appreciated the nice presentation of their flights.

As for the beer itself, my favorite was their original brew, the Boxcar, which is an English-style amber ESB. I hadn’t even ordered it because I don’t usually go for ESBs, but Katie got it and really liked it so I had a taste. Maybe I’ll have to reconsider my reluctance to go for ESBs. Also noteworthy was the Birdseye Belgian tripel, which had a lot of complex notes. In fact, I asked the bartender if it had coriander and he assured me that there were no non-traditional additives. Finally, the key lime gose made me a bit homesick because it threw me back to a brewery in the Berkshires where I had one last year, and where I hope to have lunch in a couple of weeks when I pass through. [Ed. note: Turns out that brewery is only open for lunch on weekends, and I wound up passing through on a weekday. Oh well.]

After the brewery, Katie and her friend wanted to show me downtown Waukesha. Overall it kind of reminded me of downtown Mountain View, CA, though with very different politics. They also had a very lit up tree, which is unusual to see in the middle of summer.

Today Katie and I went into Milwaukee, for my first ever visit to the city. Of course, when I think of Milwaukee, my first association is always this scene:

Anyway, our first stop was the Milwaukee Public Market, which opened a few years ago as part of the modern movement to provide quality food markets in American downtowns similar to what’s available in other parts of the world. (Compare anything from London’s Borough Market to Barcelona’s Boqueria to Mendoza, Argentina’s Mercado Central.) Unlike most markets, it has a second level with a great view of the ground floor.

Then a few blocks from the market we checked out the “Bronze Fonz” statue. I had forgotten that Happy Days took place in Milwaukee.

Next up was a boat tour of the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan. The tour guide wasn’t very good, but the views were.

And of course we had to finish with a couple of brewery visits. Milwaukee Brewing Company was close to the public market and Katie had been there before, so we hit it up first. Once again my favorite beer there was one she ordered, namely the Louie’s Demise amber ale. Actually, we wound up swapping beers because I found one of the beers on my flight to be undrinkable but she liked it, while she wasn’t much of a fan of the Louie’s Demise. Overall a lot of their beers were creative but didn’t necessarily work well. The only other beer there that I particularly liked was the coconut cream ale, which was very light and made with coconut water rather than coconut milk or coconut pulp.

Right around the corner from MKE Brewing was Broken Bat, which Katie and I both agreed was our favorite. Part of that was it’s just a really fun place, a small underground brewery with a baseball theme.

Yes, I know they have a ridiculous picture of the Brewers beating the Red Sox at Fenway. As for the beers themselves, we both picked the Beach Ball pineapple milkshake IPA as our favorite. Just a nice combination of sweet and bitter. Other good beers included the Ump Show blueberry sour and the 755 The King imperial caramel stout. The latter beer is named in honor of baseball’s true home run king, Hank Aaron, who played most of his career for the Milwaukee Braves. As for the beer itself, I was worried a caramel stout might be too sweet, but if anything it was a bit more bitter than I would have liked. Still good though.

And now I have to get back into the biking habit. Tomorrow I’ll be biking to downtown Milwaukee from Katie’s place, taking a ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon, MI, and then biking from Muskegon to Grand Rapids. Should be one of my more interesting days of pedaling!

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