It’s been a long road for City Lights Brewing, which opened this week in the Milwaukee Gas Light Building at 2200 W. Mount Vernon Ave. in the Menomonee Valley. Countless construction delays – most due to complications of renovating 100-plus-year-old buildings – caused the brewery’s timeline to be lengthened by nearly nine months.
But we've finally been able to get our first taste of the new brewery. Here are some of the interesting bits we found.
Once you're parked in the spacious parking lot, you'll want to enter the main building through a doorway on the north side. Along the way, stop and appreciate the windows, which were created to meet the specifications of Alexander Eschweiler’s original architectural drawings for the building.
2. History lesson
Be sure to read the historic homage to the Gas Light Building on the plaque next to the entrance.
3. Punch in
Upon your arrival, head to the back of the tap room where you'll find a vintage punch clock. Record your name on one of the cards and punch in (and out when you leave). The brewery will track your time, and you'll be eligible for monthly prizes.
4. Have a seat
If you're with a group, there are plenty of options for seating. Old hardwood flooring found in the next door building was fashioned into five tongue-in-groove table tops, two drink rails and two 8-foot communal tables.
5. Appreciate the beauty
There's a natural beauty about the bar top which was made from old growth cypress which was pulled out of a river in Southern Florida.
6. A bird's eye view of the brewing
Thanks to glass windows behind the bar, you can see the brewing process from beginning to end.
7. Find the crane
Shiny equipment is cool, but maybe more interesting is the fact that, if you look closely (and up), you'll glimpse glazed Tiffany brick and beautifully refurbished original ceilings, along with an 1899 vintage crane from the building which has been repurposed to secure the brewery’s milled grain.
8. Industrial chic
In fact, much of the industrial charm of the historic building has been retained. Just take a look at the cement ceilings that linger above.
9. Creature comforts
Of course, if you'd prefer something more plush, there's a small lounge area in the back of the tap room with leather couches and chairs.
10. Sample the City (Lights)
And be sure to get what you really came for – a taste of all four City Lights brews, including their IPA (hopped up with Citra, Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo hops), session IPA (featuring El Dorado and Centennial hops), brown ale (toasted nuts and a bit of hop) and amber ale (caramel and malt with Noble hops). Pricing is $5-6 for a pint and $10 for a flight.
City Lights Brewing Co. is open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to midnight and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.