I’m finally back from Milwaukee. I have to say, coming back was an odd experience. It rained or was cloudy most of the time I was there, but much to my surprise … back in Fargo there were 6+ new inches of snow, blowing at 40 mph and a -1 windchill. There’s no place like home. The recap:
When I first pulled into town around 11:30 AM Saturday, I was immediately whisked to a brewery tour at Lakefront. We were 15 minutes early so instead killed that time with a brew at Wolski’s. I loved that place, if those smoke-stained flags on the ceiling could talk …
The thing I loved most about the tour at Lakefront was the ability to knock back a couple beers before the tour, have a refill stop at the midpoint … and have one more at the completion of the tour. I didn’t mind the whole thing only costing $5 either. And I hear these tours are booked solid all year round. I love this town. The Lakefront tour was comical AND informing, if you care to learn AND be entertained. You can tell they love what they do.
Immediately after we headed to Miller for the 2:30 tour. Miller was a much more fascinating tour, only because of the size of the operation, but it was also much more scripted. Unlike Lakefront, it was free and we got to sample three beers at the end and mail (in my case 4) drunken postcards.
To counteract the beer, we stopped downtown for a Marquette Special at Real Chili. I’m sure it was the alcohol, but this may have been the best chili I’d ever had (I used to prefer Skyline in Cincinnati, but in all fairness I have to try Real Chili sober!). My party of three were the only people in there, so we had time to shoot the breeze with the attendant, who we’d recognized as a magician from downtown’s Safehouse.
That night I was only able to convince my hosts to let me take in one roadfood stop, and that was Speed Queen BBQ. I ordered the drive-thru turkey and outside meat combo. All the reports are true … the turkey was tender and the sauce was sweet and zippy. The outside meat (still not sure what that is), was good too, predictably tougher to eat. I ate half and picked at the rest as we hopped from bar to bar later.
The next morning we had a late breakfast at Benji’s consisting of the "Hero-Israel" sandwich, Super Hoppel Poppel, Cheese Blintzes and Matzoh Ball soup. This may have been the most perfect meal I’ve ever consumed.
The only other roadfood stop I was able to make was Maders on Sunday evening. I ordered the Pork Shank, which was everything it was cracked up to be. I especially enjoyed my time at Maders, because it wasn’t busy at all … we ate in the bar. A couple of us ordered flights of their German beers, and we had quite possibly the coolest bar-hostess in recorded bar-hostess history. She was this very cool Irish gal, who we engaged in conversation through the evening. We discussed, among other things, German and Irish beers, Irish Whiskey, and cross-Atlantic flight … and she gave us samples of everything we discussed, on the house. I will surely return to Maders and properly thank this woman for a genuinely enjoyable dining experience. A side note, those who enjoy a good whiskey, take a sample of "The Knot". This is one she had us try, and the first sip went straight to my nostrils like a flaming taser shock. After that, it was bliss …
We spent ALL DAY tailgating at Miller Park and never did make it into the stadium, which is ok because I’d been there before … but the tailgate was indeed an experience. What I will takeaway most from this trip was how integral beer consumption still is to the social experience that is this city. I’ve also discovered a new beer … the New Glarus Spotted Cow …
Thank you Milwaukee, I will be back!