Category Archives: USA

Brewery Tours Milwaukee.

Getting out of Minnesota I decided to visit another state and hopped on the Megabus to Milwaukee. No particular reason why but it was on the edge of Lake Michegan and I had already visited Lake Superior.

At the edge of Lake Michegan, at least this one wasn’t frozen !!

Lake michegan

I wasn’t sure what title to give this little trip but as you will see I seemed to spend most of my time visiting breweries. So had to call it ‘Brewery Tours Milwaukee’.

I originally stayed on the north west side of the city but it was a little run down. I often walked past this church which I always  thought you be at the start of a horror movie.

I later moved to the Bay View area south of the city. This seemed to be an upcoming area that was being rejuvenated with older buildings being converted into modern apartments,

In the city center there are plenty of river walks to be done that follow either side of the river.

 Imagine my surprise to bump into the Fonz along one of these river walks ! I’d forgotten that the massively popular ‘Happy Days’ TV series was set in Milwaukee. Not too sure who the artist was but i’m unsure whether they got a second chance……….

 

Milwaukee is known as the city that is built on beer. There is literally dozens of breweries making a name for themselves in Wisconsin.

I decided to visit some of them by booking a tour that takes you to some of the smaller craft brewers. The bus left central Milwaukee and drove us out to our first stop which was the Twisted Path distillery. We were welcomed by a very enthusiastic owner and a rum cocktail. Various spirits were made here including different vodkas, rums and gin, all were certified organic spirits.

What i like about these places is that they are not just distilleries or breweries, but have their own bars on site so you can buy at source. Some places serve a full menu also so why go anywhere else ?!

Twisted Path Distillery

Next stop was a brewery called Good City Brewing. They went big and built a brewery with restaurant and bar facilities on Farewell Avenue in the east side. They are also now building a new pilot brewery and tap room in the downtown area opening in 2019. So not exactly one of the smaller craft brewers anymore but still worth a visit as the food sure looked good.

Another stop on the tour and my personal favourite was the husband and wife team of Westallion brewing. This set up epitomises the smaller craft brewing fraternaty. The owner grew up in the West Allis area, some might say a rather neglected suburb of Milwaukee, and thats where he returned to start his own brewery business.

The owners were very welcoming , the bar had a good atmosphere, and everything seemed right with the world. If i remember correcty i tried a pint of their Scottish ale and Vienna lager. Both enjoyable, drinkable beers and could have easily stayed their for the rest of the afternoon. But there was another brewery and some more beers to taste !!

The last stop on the tour was the Urban Harvest Brewing company. This place had a big bar, seating for many, stage for live music, and even another stage around the back for other events. We were escorted to the rear stage where we were given a selection of their beers to try. This was another place i could easily have stayed at for the rest of the afternoon. The bar was bustling and everybody was having a good time !

Urban Harvest Brewery

Whilst on my afternoon bus tour of breweries i heard about the MKE brewery tour. Whats different about this tour is that you pay your 12 bucks and then drink as much beers as you can in 2 1/2 hours !! Had to check this out so booked a tour online and turned up on a sunday afternoon. You can start trying the beers half an hour before your tour starts and half an hour after it ends (approx). During the tour which is about an hour long you also have a break where you can return to the bar to try another variation of their beer.

MKE Brewing

They were certainly brave in brewing their beers. Many different flavours and strengths were encouraged, i remembered chocolate, mint, Cheerios cereal, etc, being used. They had one that was just ready called O-Gii, a beer thats infused with green tea and gjnger. If thats not enough its left to age in Gin barrels, be careful though as it packs a kick at 10% ABV !! The brewery were doing so well that they were soon to move into a new bigger location.

This was clearly the BEST brewery tour ever in the history of mankind.

I stumbled upon yet another brewery whilst out sight seeing in the city center (honest). This was the Lakefront brewery. It was here i tasted their blueberry beer. Now i’m not normally a fan of all this mucking around with different ingredients, i mean beer should be beer right ? But thus tasted pretty good i have to say and even had real blueberries in it which must be part of your 5-a-day ?

I had to stop visiting breweries as it was just too much fun. I turned my attention to the Harley Davidson museum, an impressive building on the west side of the city.

The display of bikes, memorabilia, history and stories was impressive. Some of the oldest ever Harleys are on display here –

To some of the more modern racers (well the 90’s/2000’s !)-

A history of engines of all shapes and sizes –

They certainly have had an interesting history, how they are still here i’m not sure. They have faced various stages of bankruptcy,  management buy-outs, more threats of bankruptcy,  the story goes on. I think they held on by the skin of their teeth purely because of the American bikers and their passion for the brand. Harley Davidson isn’t just a brand its a way of life.

I had no idea that Buell motorbikes were part of Harley-Davidson. Started  by an ex Harley-Davidson engineer employee in 1983, Harley-Davidson bought 49% in 1993 and the whole in 2003.

Buell motorbike

Milwaukee at night in the Bay View area –

My week away in Milwaukee had come to an end so headed back to Minneapolis  (to sober up). Imagine my delight to return when another snow storm/blizzard was just arriving. This was me having just left the pub on our way to another but decided against it so we went back in !!

As the Fonz says – ‘Heey !!’.

Touring Minneapolis Minnesota

Having spent enough time touring in and around Minnesota i hadn’t really visited Minneapolis. Minneapolis can be accessed easily by various transpotation methods. Theres a good bus network, both local and further afield and the light rail system connecting all the main landmarks. Best still its all run by the same company so you can buy a day pass and use all of them without worry.

I headed downtown to the river area which is steeped in flour making history !! Little did i know before i arrived but Minneapolis was once the flour making capital of the world !! There was literally more flour produced here than anywhere. The wheat was brought in from the Dakotas and other areas and all processed here. Why ? Because of the only natural water fall on the Upper Mississippi River – St Anthony Falls.

Settlers came from far and wide and built a town around the falls. There was once more than 20 flour mills in operation all at the same time surrounding the river.

The famous stone arch bridge, now used as a footpath and cycle path.

Stone arch bridge minneapolis

Where old meets new. One of the oldest and largest flour mills which was mostly destroyed in a massive explosion. There is now a flour mill museum integrated into it showing its history.

Later on i went back to the US Bank Stadium for one of their public tours. Twenty bucks buys you a one hour tour of the premises along with all of the amazing facts that go with building something of its size.

US bank stadium

Apparantly the TV screens are the third biggest in the world –

Us bank stadium

To lift the roof into place they had to get the third largest crane in the US. It had to be dismantled and taken inside the stadium before being reassembled to use.

Us bank stadium

Clearly the most interesting fact was that to ensure all the beer pumos worked correctly, there had to be 33 miles of pipework !!

The Foshay Tower was funded by Wilbur Foshay a self made millionaire. He completed his dream of building the tallest building in Minneapolis in 1929. Sadly this was not great timing though as soon after it was finished came the Great Depression. In 2006 work started to turn the iconic building into a hotel which opened in 2008. It is now surrounded by many newer office blocks and skyscrapers.

Foshay tower

A few days later revealled this reflection in one of the newer mirrored glass office blocks.

Foshay tower

Most of minneapolis seems to be full of office blocks with vey few shops, unless you go into the malls. I was also surprised by the lack of any convenience stores, nowhere to buy a can of drink or Mars Bar !

As it was only a couple of degrees above freezing it was time to give up on the waling tour. I soon found a couple of breweries to visit ! There are quite a few breweries in Minneapolis just like there seems to be in every American city !!

I visited the Clockwerks Brewery on north 4th street, a brewhouse with a funky taproom. I tried the interesting Clockwerk Orange – a beer brewed with orange, cloves, pepper and coriander. Certainly warmed me up !

The Rockbottom brewery was only around the corner too in Hennipin Avenue, another place that brews beer on site.

Some of the best known breweries in Minneapolis include the Surly and the Summut brewery. But there are many others to choose from – the craft ale scene has really taken off in Amercia !!

I’m sure there was many more things to visit in Minneapolis but the freezing temperatures got the better of me !!