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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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In Bars & Clubs Commentary

Have you taken a glance at Cafe Centraal's beer list? Stocked with over 90 imports and local microbrews.

In Bars & Clubs Commentary

Just next door, Sugar Maple puts more beers on tap than any bar in the city.

On the town in Milwaukee: Beer spoiled or selection savvy?


I had dinner in at The Publican in Chicago over the weekend.

Opened just eight months, The Publican is one of the newer dining destinations in Chicago but is affiliated with the success and adulation of others like Blackbird, Avec and The Violet Hour. All under the same ownership, The Publican reinvents yet another culinary tradition: the German or Belgian beer hall.

At initial glance, the beer list is far longer than any other menu the hostess has to offer. Carrying a rotating list of easily 100 beers, bottles travel from France, Germany, Belgium and Norway to be drained into the single specified glass created for the individual perfect pour and ultimate sipping experience.

According to the bartender, server and surrounding diners, the concept is a newly exciting phenomenon in Chicago.

We, as Milwaukeeans, on the other hand, were not overtly surprised.

Maybe it's this city's German heritage or boisterous obsession with microbrews, but in Milwaukee, Belgian rarities are more and more the norm. Long lists of authentic Belgian and German brews are standard at places like the Palm Tavern, Sugar Maple, Roman's Pub and Von Trier. Café Centraal stocks nearly 90 beers, each paired with its namesake glass.

Have we simply become accustomed to this kind of extravagant selection? Or are we simply sitting on the pulse of international brewing and beer snobbery?

As a result of our constant consumption and citywide identity, do we simply demand something more?

Honestly, it's hard to say. Miller does a good business in Milwaukee, openly satisfying all those thirsty drinkers who want to keep it plain and simple. And there's no guilt in that.

On the flip side, we have a hardcore beer nerd contingency looking for variety in imports and microbrews. But then again, so do cities like Boulder, Colo and Portland, Ore..

Can we justifiably say we're different from that?

I want to say "yes," but my mental retort is cloaked in more Milwaukee pride than statistical data or scientific fact.

So, what's your science? Do you think Milwaukee is ahead of the game when it comes to beer selection and brewery appreciation?

Use the Talkback feature below and weigh in on this thirsty debate.

Talkbacks

Southern_Ex_pat | June 16, 2009 at 9:19 a.m. (report)

All I can say the beer scene is fantastic here. I was once a wine guy but after moving to Milwaukee I drink more beer than wine. I would say the beer scene is comparable, if not better than Boulder's. I have never been to Portland but I have heard it called beervana & I believe 75% of all beers sold in Portland are craft beers (don't quote me on that). There are a bunch of great local breweries in WI. New Glarus makes some great beers. Furthermore is doing some great (& wild) things. Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter is delicious.

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Esider | June 2, 2009 at 7:48 a.m. (report)

Check out the 14 tap selections at Tess on the EastSide...Some places have great beers and don't serve food....some places serve great fod and their beer list is run of the mill. Tess has both! All tap beers are regionally brewed (within 500 miles of Milwaukee) and they have a couple that no one else in Milwaukee has...such as the Viking Brewery's LES Beer from Dallas, Wisconsin...yes, Dallas, Wisconsin.

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4277 | June 2, 2009 at 7:44 a.m. (report)

Hey Mo..Avec and The Violet Hour are in Chicago! Read the article again!

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Gizzle | May 19, 2009 at 11:21 a.m. (report)

I would say yes Milwaukee is ahead of the curve as you put in having establishments offering a wider variety of beers than you may find the norm in other parts of the country. And I really don't think it's a recent phenomenon to Milwaukee either. While Romans has been around longer than most bars with big beer selections have we forgot Zur Krone already? In it's heyday this Walkers Point gem where Crazy Water is now located carried 300+ beers, the vast majority all imports. One over looked bar is the Bomb Shelter in Walkers Point, that has a large variety of US microbrews and retro's that made Milwaukee 'Brew City', many beers you just won't find anywhere else, their web site currently has a list of 231 beers. Where are Avec and The Violet Hour? I've not heard of these...in Milwaukee?

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alba | May 18, 2009 at 9:08 a.m. (report)

Roman's started it all and should get the credit for bringing great and unusual tap beer to Milwaukee (anybody can have tons of bottles of strange beer having tap beer is another BETTER thing). I can't wait to go back - but that be next July when people won't be able to smoke cigars in the bar.

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