Lakefront Brewery Tour & Tasting: Part Two – The Tasting

Lakefront Brewery
1872 N. Commerce St., Milwaukee, WI 53212

{Editors’s Note:  If you haven’t already, check out Part One – The Tour, which goes into the history and current operations info of Lakefront Brewery.  There is also a great yeast analogy.}

Lakefront Bock Beer

Bock Beer

Our tour wrapped up at this point and we all made our way back to the tap room area.  I still had two tokens left that I needed to exchange for 6 oz pours of beer.  I perused the taps and then asked Mike, who was working as bartender now, what seasonal beers they had available that would be hard to find elsewhere.  He immediately said: The Bock Beer, it’s a spring seasonal that is usually long gone by now.  They happened to find a keg of it hidden.  An employee probably stashed it away.  I asked him to pour me some and handed over my penultimate token.  This was a really nice Bock, I’d put it in the same class as Shiner Bock, although this one is a bit higher octane sitting at 6.7% ABV.  I’d like to thank whichever employee stashed that keg.  

It was right around two o’clock by now.  My breakfast had worn off and I obviously had been drinking some beers.  While finishing up my Bock Beer I decided to order some grub.  Lakefront Brewery not only has wonderful beers, but a gourmet kitchen.  The menu offers a selection of Sausages, Pretzels, Cheese boards, fried cheese curds – all the kinds of food you would expect while in Wisconsin.  I went with the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which in retrospect seems pretty boring.

Lakefront Wisconsinite


After ordering my food, it was time to use my last token.  I couldn’t leave without trying the Wisconsinite.  This is a Hefeweizen which is made with all local Wisconsin ingredients.  It starts with Wisconsin grown malt, wheat and hops.  Then comes the crowning jewel of the beer, a “first-of-its-kind, never before fermented, indigenous Wisconsin yeast strain.”  A true “College Freshman” of the yeast world1.  This yeast strain is believed to be the only North American-grown yeast in commercial use today, as well as the first native brewing yeast from Wisconsin2.

Lakefront Chicken Sandwich

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Lakefront has done Wisconsin proud, this is a fantastic Hefeweizen.  My Grilled Chicken Sandwich was brought to me after getting just a few sips into my pour of Wisconsinite.  The two paired very well together.  The garlic ranch used on the sandwich is the best I’ve ever tasted.  The food stands alone on quality, it’s a hell of a bonus that you have an assortment of Lakefront taps at your disposal as well.  While eating I noticed a 6 pack holder of Growing Power being used as a napkin and utensil holder.  I left this out of Part One – The Tour.  Mike had mentioned that the majority of the Lakefront spent grain goes to Growing Power urban farms in Milwaukee.  In fact, just this May Lakefront and Growing Power released a new collaboration beer, Growing Power Farmhouse Ale.  Lakefront Tour Giant Beer MugA percentage of the profits from this beer goes to Growing Power, so they are able to continue in their efforts.

I quickly scarfed down my delicious food and polished off the last of my token pours.  I had noticed one set of taps that were off from the rest.  On one tap was written in chalk “My Turn: Kyle”.  Mike was still working as bartender and there wasn’t a line so I asked him what that tap was about.  Lakefront has a whole “My Turn” series.  A different employee from the brewery gets to come up with a beer recipe.  Lakefront then produces the beer and they have a big party with all the employees when it is ready for first tasting.  They then keg and bottle the beer and sell it to the public.  Lakefront My Turn Kyle TapWhat better way to recognize your employees than by letting them create a new beer and slap their name on it?  The My Turn beers have ranged in style from an Imperial Pisner, to a Barleywine, a Vanilla Maple Dopplebock and the My Turn: Kyle which is a Belgian-Style Tripel.

The My Turn: Kyle is not available via a token, which was fine with me as I had already used up my tokens at this point.  It was $6 for a full glass, which was a great deal.  This beer was mellow, smooth and easy drinking.  The 9% ABV was very deceptive.  You could get in trouble with this brew if you weren’t aware of it’s high octane alcohol content.

Lakefront My Turn KyleWhile enjoying my glass of My Turn: Kyle, the 14th beer in this Lakefront series, I went to turn in my plastic tour cup in the gift shop.  Upon turning in your tour cup you are given a Lakefront souvenir pint glass.  I noticed on the back of the glass the phrase “One more! Then we go.”  I chuckled a bit to myself and then looked in the glass.  There was a voucher for 1 free Lakefront beer at participating bars and taverns, good until 6PM on the day of the tour.  I was in disbelief.  I had to read it three times over to accepted what the voucher actually meant.  As I slowly finished up my glass of My Turn: Kyle, I asked one of the helpful staff members which of the listed bars was the closest.  She told me that Wolski’s Tavern was just a few minutes walk.

Wolski's Tavern Front view

Wolski’s Tavern

I walked over the bike and pedestrian bridge next to the brewery and was at Wolski’s Tavern in no time.  The bar was situated right next to a park in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  If it weren’t for the neon sign in the window I would have assumed it was a home.  I walked in and handed over my voucher and ordered an Eastside Dark.  The beer was quite good.  But I have to say the crowd at the Tavern was even more enjoyable.  I was the youngest person in the bar by a good 20 years, possibly excluding the bartender.

Lakefront Eastside Dark

Eastside Dark

I struck up a conversation with the gentleman to my left.  He happened to be a retired mail carrier, whose route had him delivering mail to the bartender when he was a child.  I thoroughly enjoyed that little fact.  At one point the bartender offered some goose sausage to everyone.  I couldn’t resist and tried a piece, it was delicious.  There was another guy who was celebrating his birthday, so I bought him a drink.  The bartender said “Do you know him?”  I replied, “No. I just like buying people drinks on their birthday.”  It was a really cool tavern with a great atmosphere and fun group of regulars.  I would have gotten photos of the interior but didn’t want to be that “hipster dude” documenting Americana for his blog.

Lakefront Brewery Rear Side

Rear View of the Brewery from the Bike and Pedestrian Bridge

I had a most wonderful and entertaining time at the Lakefront Brewery.  The Tour was much better than I had expected it to be, and heck just getting food and drinks in the tap room was a blast.  When I didn’t think it could get any better, I got a free beer at a Tavern that was established back in 1908.  If you find yourself in the greater Milwaukee area, make it a point to stop by Lakefront Brewery.  Hit up a tour if possible, otherwise just stop in for a pint and/or a meal.  You won’t be disappointed.

  1.  If you read Part One, you’ll truly appreciate the reference. 

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