Despite the name, The Malt Shoppe, 813 N. Mayfair Rd., does not offer a single flavor of ice cream, but that’s because it’s not that kind of malt shop. It does, however, boast more than 900 different beers from around the world, including places not readily associated with brewing like Kenya, Brazil, Vietnam, Slovakia and Singapore.
The Malt Shoppe, which opened three weeks ago, offers most of its stock by the single bottle or can as well as in six packs. There’s also a tasting area with 30 beers on tap available for purchase in growlers.
"We’re all about having people sample different beers," says general manager Dave Hansen. "Some of our six packs go for $15-20 and we don’t want anyone to be stuck with anything."
The Malt Shoppe – owned by Pat Lafferty – also offers a large selection of local beers, including Lakefront, Sprecher, Milwaukee Brewing Company and more.
"Pretty much everything that’s local, we have," says Hansen.
The retail space is organized into sections according to the type of beer – ales, porters, etc. Large coolers store the IPAs, pilsners and pale ales.
"Some beers will lose flavor and character if they aren’t refrigerated for several weeks or months," says Hansen. "You never have to worry about that here."
Hansen has 20-plus years of experience in the brewing industry. In 1985, he was the first contract craft brewer in Wisconsin for Vienna Brewing Co.
"The business was ahead of the curve. But we didn’t have the market or the money at the time to go to the next level," he says.
At first glance, it seems a bit odd that the tasting room doesn't have stools or chairs at its bar or the three tables. However, Hansen says the focus, for now, is for customers to sample, fill a growler and take it home. Two samples per customer are offered, but the space is not intended to serve as a gathering place.
The 30 tap beers are available to go in three sizes of growlers: 64 ounce, 32 ounce and a 16 ounce.
"The 16 ounce is nice because a lot of these beers on tap are really high in alcohol, and unless you’re going to have some help drinking the larger ones, the 16-ounce growler is perfect for one person," says Hansen.
Once a growler is opened, the beer remains fresh for about 24 hours. Some beers last for 48 hours, although the sooner the beer is consumed the better it will taste.
According to assistant general manager Joel Kasper the most popular craft beers right now are IPAs, but sour beers are becoming increasingly more coveted.
"Sours are an acquired taste. People seem to love ‘em or hate ‘em," says Kasper, a longtime home brewer and former Chicago bartender.
During our visit, we tried two sours: a Belgian beer called Wild & Funky brewed by B.O.M. Brewery and Restless Soul from O’so Brewery in Plover, Wis.
"A lot of people find the Wild & Funky to be very ‘barn-yardy,’" Kasper says.
We also tried a German Schwaben Brau and Abita Gator which is brewed in Louisiana and is 8 percent Alcohol By Volume (ABV).
The Malt Shoppe will host its first event, "3 Sheeps Tap Take-Over," on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. The brewery owners will provide a brief overview of the company and provide samples. Four of the brewery’s beers will be on tap, including the Ewephoria ginger chocolate stout, Cirque du Wit, No. 4 Fresh Hop Harvest Ale and the yet-to-be-released No. 5 Ghost Pepper IPA – which has a hefty 11.2 percent ABV.
On Tuesday, Dec. 2, the shop will host a Goose Island Tap Takeover at 7 p.m. A Goose Island stainless steel growler with a keg tap will be introduced along with the chance to buy and sample a variety of Goose Island beers.
And yes, The Malt Shoppe has a cooler filled with good ol’ yellow beer for anyone not feeling crafty. Pabst, Schlitz, Heineken – it’s all there, too.
"It’s still beer," says Kasper.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.