“Follow the soothing sound of my voice,” yells the bearded ginger marching through the Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall. And a hall it is, with banners draped from the walls like some sort of poorman’s Hogwarts for alcoholics. Housed inside an old coal-fire power plant along the Milwaukee River, Russ Klisch and his Brew Crew have been keeping it real since moving in 1998 (est. 1987). In a town with a legendary legacy for brewing, Lakefront established and has maintained the mantle of the craft beer revolutionaries.
Fixed Gear (American Red IPA) leads a line of drinky winkys that has broad national distribution. Production exploded for Lakefront after putting in the legwork to not just make but get regulator approval for the country’s first organic beer and first gluten-free “beer.” (Lakefront’s claim).
On this day, I was impressed by their seasonals, inc. a French style ale “Rendezvous.” Hoppy yet refreshing on a muggy Midwest summer day. “Cherry” lager brewed with Wisconsin cherries. Sweet and tart in the perfect balance. My favorite of their standards is the Eastside Dunkel a meaty nutty glass of darkness.
*Slow-clap* for a brewery that’s found commercial success, is growing steadily (expanding their production facility again) yet still finds the time to have fun and experiment. The “My Turn” series is featuring recipes submitted by the staff – and named after them. Try a “Matt” or a “Kyle” (who happened to be on my tour with his mom, and boy was she proud).
The tour is well worth the $8. Four half-pints cashed in with tokens that can be used before-during-after the tour itself. You’re walking away with a nice branded pint glass at the end, which SURPRISE comes with a coupon for another free beer. Good value on the tangible takeaways alone, the tour is actually one of the best I’ve been on with a highly entertaining guide. Finish off with a ceremonial wave goodbye to the glove on the bottling line just like Laverne and Shirley.
Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Lakefront Brewery Incorporated!