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Touring Sprecher Brewery is thirsty work.
Touring Sprecher Brewery is thirsty work.

Rapid review: Sprecher Brewery Tour

March Madness is here, and the basketball action heats up in Milwaukee this week as the Bradley Center hosts the Midwest and West regional rounds of the "big dance." With fans flocking from near and far, the editorial staff at OnMilwaukee.com thought we'd help greet our new visitors with a week's worth of features and guides to everything that makes our city a great place to visit. It's "Welcome to Milwaukee Week" at OnMilwaukee.com!

The Sprecher Brewery tour is a must-do for all Milwaukeeans, their guests and visitors. It’s low-key, educational and fun, and, best of all, ends with samples in a Bavarian beer garden. Slice of perfection, you say? Indeed.

The tour begins in the Sprecher memorabilia-filled gift shop, followed by a tour through the brew house, the cellar adorned with Bavarian murals, the bottling room and last but not least, the beer garden.

The beer garden features oompah music and a variety of beer and soda samples on tap.

When to go: Sprecher generally offers tours throughout the year on Fridays at 4 p.m., Saturdays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. and Sundays at 12, 1 and 2 p.m. Call for exact times as they may change slightly from week to week.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Sprecher offer tours on weekdays -- contingent upon production and special event scheduling -- at 4 p.m. Call ahead.

Why should I go? Brewing beer is an integral part of Milwaukee's history and a way to really get a feel for the local culture. Plus, learning and sipping suds during the same outing is fun!

Cost: Adults are $4. Anyone with a military ID gets in for $3. People under 21 are $2 and, of course, allowed to only drink Sprecher soda.

How many beers do you get? Adults get four samples of beer, chosen from 10 different beers on tap. Adults and kids can sample as many sodas as they want.

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The Pub offers cheap drinks in a down-to-earth setting.
The Pub offers cheap drinks in a down-to-earth setting.

Rapid review: The Pub

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!


The Pub
2479 N. Fratney St., (414) 554-7212

About two years ago, Chris Bohl bought The Pub in Riverwest and, since then, he continues to offer the neighborhood an affordable and lively bar.

The mix of drinkers is diverse, from longtime locals to transient neighborhood folk, with a completely unpretentious atmostphere and two pinball machines.

The Pub is ideal for a beer or two with friends on those nights when low-key conversation trumps "seeing and being seen."

However, if you're sensitive to smoke, The Pub is a place to consider after the smoking ban goes into effect on July 5, 2010.

Menu: The Pub has a decent selection of tap beer, including Guinness, Murphy's Irish Stout, Sierra Nevada, Bell's and a rotating representation of local breweries.

Price: Cheap.

When to go: The Pub offers happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. every day except Sunday along with $1.50 rail drinks and $2 for anything on tap during that time. Also, Wednesday nights is Ladies' Night and, consequently, all ladies drink 2-for-1 after 8 p.m.

Dress: Very casual.

Don't miss: The $3 pitchers of Point beer.

Parking: Street parking is not a problem.

Axel's Inn features drink specials every night of the week.
Axel's Inn features drink specials every night of the week.

Rapid review: Axel's Inn

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Axel’s Inn
2859 N. Oakland Ave.
(414) 962-2122

Because Axel’s is in walking distance of UWM, the bar usually features a fair share of college students blowing their financial aid money on pitchers of cheap beer. However, because Axel’s has been around for so many decades, it maintains a neighborhood watering hole appeal as well and attracts drinkers who haven’t stepped on a college campus in many years.

Comfortable and no-frills, Axel’s is a good choice for a game of pool, darts, video bowling or a place to belly up to the bar for a beer and a shot.

Menu: Axel’s serves 22 different beers on tap that change regularly. Many are from Wisconsin breweries like New Glarus, Sprecher and Central Waters Brewing Co.

Price: Reasonable.

When to go: Axel’s has a special every night of the week. Mondays feature happy hour prices all night; Tuesdays are pint night; Wednesdays is ladies’ night (all women pay $1 for any drink from 9 p.m. to midnight); Thursday is pitcher night; Friday are Wisconsin beer night; Saturday is Budweiser "bowling pin" bottle night and Sunday is discount cocktails night.

Dress: Very casual.

Don't miss: The Silver Strike Bowling video game is popular with Axel’s goers.

Parking: Street parking only. Good luck.

The Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular is a trip-tacular tribute to the life of the King of Pop.
The Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular is a trip-tacular tribute to the life of the King of Pop.

Celebrating with Michael Jackson

Exactly one year ago on Friday, two friends and I decided to meet in a Riverwest basement with our instruments and a few bottles of beer to make some noise.

And noise we made.

We recorded these early sessions and they are, at best, an anti-symphony of flat singing and fumbling fingers.

However, long story short, we kept meeting and we drank less and focused more. Now, the band, called Cackle, has a CD, a couple of gigs and yesterday we heard our song on the radio for the first time.

So, how should a scrappy, pagan-flavored post-punk band celebrate its one-year anniversary? At the Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular, of course! It's this Friday, Feb. 19, at 8 p.m. 

I scored these tickets for the love of Grant Gunn, Cackle’s guitar player, who is -- in my world, anyway -- the biggest M.J. fan of all time. His ability to pull off so many of Michael’s famous moves is impressive for anyone, particularly a fair-skinned red head.

I have fond early-MTV memories of Michael Jackson, including sneaking out of bed to catch his much-hyped, 14-minute "Thriller" video in 1983.

That said, I never thought I would find myself at a trippy tribute to the King of Pop. However, I  learned that life is a surprising unfurling of strange and wonderful events if you let it. And so, I'll be in the midst of lasers and moon walkers on a February Friday night. Maybe I’ll see you there.