Milwaukee isn’t nicknamed brew city for nothing. This sprawling city in Wisconsin has an historic love affair with beer, and has been brewing the good stuff for as long as anyone can remember. Originally a prime producer of lager, Milwaukee has, in more recent years, taken the craft beer scene by storm. Visit one of these top brewery tours and you’ll soon see what all the fuss is about.
This sweet spot in downtown Milwaukee prides itself on its speciality craft beers and reviving old brewing techniques from before the Prohibition Era. Founded in 1985, Sprecher Brewing Company offers comprehensive $5 tours of the brewhouse, cellar, bottling line and warehouse. Extraordinarily, children and minors are welcome – and invited to sample the company’s famous sodas while the adults guzzle down beer.
With more than a decade’s brewing experience under their belt, these kids have got craft beer down to a fine art. Producing a steady supply of year-round ales, and more than 300 seasonal flavours, these generous $10 tours are “beer in hand” with samples being offered even after the main event. Don’t leave without your Milwaukee Brewing Company Pint Glass, which is included in the price.
This small local brewery is family-owned and irresistibly charismatic. Founded in 1987, the good people at Lakefront bottle a variety of specialist beers, from the smooth and crisp Riverwest Stein, to the easy-drinking Eastside Dark. You can sample them all during a $7 tour, which includes a free souvenir pint glass and plenty of beer. It’s no wonder this brewery tour is regarded by many as the best in the business.
Perhaps the biggest and best known of the Wisconsin breweries is Miller, owned by beer giants MillerCoors after a corporate merger between Miller Brewing Company (1855) and Coors Brewing Company (1873) in 2007. It may be too commercial for many craft beer aficionados, but this place offers free-guided tours, with free beer samples to boot. You can’t say better than that.
The new kid on the block since 2010, Big Bay Brewing Company is the most recent development on Milwaukee’s microbrewing scene. Big Bay’s youth brings with it a fresh wave of creativity and enterprise, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Head for the tasting room and brewery store in Shorewood, and get on board with a selection of their handcrafted beers and gourmet sodas.
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Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guides cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas.