Lakefront Brewery: The Humble Beginnings of this Milwaukee Gem
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In June we made a pit-stop at the LakeFront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI on our way back from a family graduation in Ohio. I must say that if you are ever in Milwaukee and even if you aren't a huge fan of beer, you still must do the Lakefront Brewery tour – it is an absolute blast! And if you are a fan of beer – as we are – you will enjoy it even more.
For $8 you get four-6 oz. cups of any of the beers they have on tap. When you are done sampling the beer choices, you can then turn in your plastic cup for a souvenir pint glass. While this is all great as it is, that isn't even the best part about this tour. The tour in and of itself is worth the $8 – it is not only informative, but it is pure entertainment. If you are thinking – “oh, just another boring tour?” – well think again! These tour guides are lively, funny, and will have you in stitches by the time you are done.
If you are lucky enough to be crowned “The Bung Hole Queen” – as I was thanks to my daughter – you will not only go home with an additional souvenir, but you will also have “fond” memories to go with it!
Just to help you get to know this brewery a little better, here is some background:
Started by brothers Russ and Jim Klisch out of a historical bakery building in 1987, the Milwaukee-based Lakefront Brewery has been keeping it real ever since. Within one year of operating in 1988, their beer sales increased to 72 barrels, and then to 125 barrels in 1989. By 1990 the brothers were bottling their beers, and ready to move to a bigger and better space. Based on the Milwaukee city’s recommendation, the Lakefront Brewery eventually took over the former Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company plant. After renovations, additions, and the purchase of new brewing equipment, they relocated in 2000. By 2012 demand reached 33,368 barrels for the year, and the brothers aren’t planning to slow down any time soon.
Leading the Way in Innovation
Trailblazers and innovators in the brewing community, the Klisch brothers have always been a step ahead of the game. Lakefront brewery’s, best selling seasonal brew, the Pumpkin Lager, was the second Pumpkin Beer crafted by an American brewery. The Lakefront brewery was also the first brewery in the nation to become certified organic, creating the Organic ESB, the United States’ first certified organic beer. Even better, Lakefront President, Russ Klisch has successfully advocated that the USDA require the use of organic hops in the production of organic beer. Always ahead of the trends, the Lakefront brewery created the country’s first government-approved gluten-free brew, the New Grist, in 1996. The brothers have also been leaders and innovators in indigenous brewing, re-introducing the production of hops and barley to Wisconsin for the first time since prohibition. As of May 2007, the brewery was also the first Wisconsin brewery to be awarded the Travel Green Wisconsin certification. The brewery is also a founding member of Milwaukee’s Local First Milwaukee organization, encouraging sustainability and advocacy within the local community.
Now for the Good Stuff: The Brews
Lakefront Brewery is proud of their wide selection of beers. The brewery’s year-round options, include six unique ales and four lagers. Of the year-round ales, three are IPAs, such as the Fixed Gear American Red IPA and the Extended Play Session IPA. Other ale offerings available year-round include the New Grist Gluten-Free Ginger Style Ale, the Bridge Burner Imperial Amber Ale and the Fuel Café Organic Coffee Stout. The diverse lager offerings from Lakefront range from the New Grist Gluten-Free Pilsner Style to the Riverwest Stein Amber Lager. Other lagers offered year round are the Eastside Dark Bavarian Lager and the Klisch Czech Style Pilsner.
With eleven different seasonal varieties, you are certain to find something special to enjoy for every season at Lakefront Brewery. Two pumpkin beers, an Oktoberfest lager, a Cherry fruit beer and a Holiday Spice Lager are just a few of the brewery’s many seasonal offerings.
Additionally, Lakefront Brewery offers five organic brews, two gluten-free beers, limited-release items and variety packs.
Don’t Live in the Region? Fear Not!
Want to enjoy similar craft brews from unique regional breweries like Lakefront? Consider joining a top-rated beer club, like the Micro Beer Club, Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club and the Craft Beer Club. As a member of clubs like these, you can have small-batch craft brews like these delivered directly to your home!