If you remember a time when one or two beers basically ruled the foamy landscape at the Big Gig, you’ll be pleased to know that’s ancient history.
Thanks to a couple local craft brewers, plus the broader than ever family of hometown brewing giant Miller Brewing Company, Summerfest these days just may have more beer choices than ever before.
Here’s what beer lovers can expect to find at Summerfest 2021.
Klement’s Sausage and Beer Garden, north end
You’ll be able to get your Blue Moon on at a variety of locations on the grounds (including at Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, Generac Power Stage, BMO Harris Pavilion and Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard and Major Goolsyby's), but the best place is here, where you can enjoy a brat and a beer in a casual, comfy beer garden with picnic tables and a performance space that hosts live music throughout the Big Gig.
The beer selection also includes a variety of selections from Leinenkugel’s, Miller and Terrapin.
The only place I saw Blue Moon Light Sky is at the JoJo's Martini Lounge tent near the BMO.
Among the places you can find Coors Light are the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, BMO Harris Pavilion and the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard. It's also at the JoJo's Martini Lounge tent near the BMO.
I hear Coors Pure is available, but I couldn't find it anywhere.
Mid-grounds, across from the Generac Stage
The Lakefront tent is back, just steps from the lakefront path, offering more than a half-dozen Milwaukee-made options, including classics like Riverwest Stein and East Side Dark.
There will also be Hazy Rabbit (IPA), the fruity La Gosa Rita margarita-style ale and Lakefront IPA.
Because Summerfest is in September this year rather than late June and early July, fest-goers can enjoy the seasonal Oktoberfest, perhaps for the first time ever at the Big Gig.
Riverwest Stein NA – of which a second batch was brewed just a couple days ago, with a boost in caramel malts to help make it as close to the original RS as possible – will be available, as will the new Cream City Wheat Ale, which is replacing Lakefront Lager in the brewery’s lineup (though at the stand it's listed as "Sesh Worthy Wheat Ale").
Mid-grounds, just south of Miller Lite Oasis
The Chippewa Falls brewery – part of the MolsonCoors family with Miller – has its own stand with five lager-focused brews that showcase what the 154-year-old Wisconsin brewery is up to these days.
There are the classics, like Leinie’s Original and the sweet Honey Weiss, as well as another Summerfest Oktoberfest (yay!) and the collab lager with Drink Wisconsinbly.
You’ll also get the chance to taste the collaboration amber lager with Hofbrau that was recently released. It’s malty and super drinkable. You can read more about that brew here.
There are also two Leinie's stands at the U.S. Cellular Connection stage on the north end, where you can find Creamy Dark (at the Leinie Lodge).
Leinie’s new Lemon Haze IPA and Oktoberfest are also available at the Klement’s Sausage and Beer Garden on the north ends of the grounds (see the Blue Moon listing above), as well as at the JoJo's Martini Lounge tent at the BMO Harris Pavilion.
Summer Shandy is on at the stands in front of the BMO, and Oktoberfest is at a number of other vendors, too, like Major Goolsby's and Saz's (as well as at the Generac stage and in the Miller Lite Beer House at the Oasis, along with the Drink Wisconsinbly and Hofbrau collab lagers).
Miller High Life & Miller Lite
These stalwart classics are available pretty much everywhere on the grounds at branded stands in high-profile locations at most stages that you can’t possibly miss, plus from some food vendors.
But note, too, that there’s also the Miller Lite Brew House at the Miller Lite Oasis stage in the middle of the grounds. The Brew House also serves select Leinie’s (Oktoberfest, and the Hofbrau and Drink Wisconsinbly collabs) and Terrapin brews (High & Hazy NEIPA and Cryosphere IPA), too.
Normally, during the dog days of summer, the Beer House a fun place to escape the blazing sun – with shuffleboard and other fun – but in September it’ll be a great place to snuggle up to a good beer, too, if a chill wafts in from the lake.
Atwater Dirty Blonde wheat ale and Hop Valley Bubble Stash IPA are also available at select bars at the Miller Lite Oasis.
Miller High Life and Lite are also available at the Klement’s Sausage and Beer Garden on the north ends of the grounds (see the Blue Moon listing above).
Miller also has a swag shop selling a variety of merch along the main Summerfest walkway, just next to the Oasis.
Branded shipping container is on the lakefront path, mid-grounds
The Athens, Georgia-based brewery is also part of the MolsonCoors family and it specializes in hop-forward craft brews.
In its brightly painted shipping container converted into a beer stand, you’ll find hoptastic beers like Terrapin Hopsecutioner, Cryosphere and Terrapin High and Hazy IPAs on tap, plus cans of Miller Lite and Terrapin's Luau Krunkles.
Luau Krunkles tropical IPA is available at the Klement’s Sausage and Beer Garden on the north ends of the grounds (see the Blue Moon listing above) and the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard further south.
High & Hazy and Cryosphere are available at the Miller Lite Beer House at the Oasis stage.
Hopsecutioner can be found at the stand in front of the Miller Lite Oasis and at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage.
Water Street Brewery
Pavilion near the south end
Water Street Brewery has occupied the same distinctive building on the Summerfest grounds since 1998.
This year, it'll tap WSB's German-style Bavarian Weiss and its Hazy IPA, as well as two beers you'll almost never find at Summerfest when it's in June and July: the third Oktoberfest to be had on the grounds, plus the seasonal Pumpkin Ale, brewed with real pumpkin, real vanilla and pumpkin pie spices.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.