By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 18, 2023 at 8:58 AM

In September 1998, Andy Tarnoff and two other partners – Jon Krouse and Jeff Sherman – got together and started Milwaukee’s first independent daily online magazine, something that was unheard of, and more than a little risky at the time, considering they’d quit their day jobs to do it.


But 25 years later, OnMilwaukee is Brew City’s biggest and longest-running online media company and one of the ways we’re celebrating is with a dedicated craft beer brewed by The Explorium Brewpub.

Because I’m the guy who writes about beer – among other things – at OnMilwaukee, I was tasked with coming up with a brew, which was not at all difficult.

As a huge fan of hazelnuts, which are native to Wisconsin, I wanted to do something with those and I thought a classic beer like a nut brown ale would be perfect for the nuts and also as a symbol of the now-long-running OnMilwaukee.

I pitched it to The Explorium’s Mike Doble and he said, “yes!”

Soon, I found myself in The Explorium brewhouse out at Southridge with head brewer Connor Mills, stirring the mash, which was a two-part process, Mills explains.

Bobby Tanzilo, Connor Mills and Andy Tarnoff on the brewdeck.

“It's actually a double-mashed barley wine,” he says, as I stir with the wooden paddle. “I did about a third of the grain bill yesterday, and then I boiled that for two hours and then let it evaporate overnight just to get a little bit more concentration of the sugars without having to sit here for 24 hours and boil it.

“Then this morning, I mashed in the other two-thirds. That grain bill consists of Maris Otter for the base malts, C-120 from Crisp (Malting), C-60 from Simpsons (Malt), honey malt from Gambrinus (Malting), and Kara Red from Weyermann (Malt).”

The hops bill, Mills says, included Barge Rouge, Enigma and East Kent Goldings.

“In theory there will be a touch of honey with those guys, and there's going to be a little bit of honey going into the kettle as well. That is a key flavor note in the beer,” he says.

“And then we’re going to add the hazelnuts.”

The hazelnuts.

But first, Mills will split the wort to create another beer, too.

“We'll come up with nine barrels of barleywine at the end,” he says. “And then what we're going to be doing is what's called a Part-Dyle. We're using so many grains in this barleywine that there's going to be a ton of sugar left over in the mash ton when we're done.

“So once we knock out the barleywine into the fermentor, we're going to sparge the grain bed, run that into the kettle, and we're going to get another second beer.”

To keep the gravity at a reasonable amount, he says, there was about five barrels of this, which became the OnMilwaukee beer.

“We're getting two beers for one, so it's always fun,” Mills says.

While the barleywine – which will be barreled in ex-bourbon casks for a year – will likely finish out at about 14 to 15 percent ABV, the OnMilwaukee brew is a much more 5.4 percent, which was another of my asks of The Explorium.




In a craft beer world that’s populated with ales climbing in the 6s, 7s, 8s and beyond, I wanted a beer you could enjoy a couple of without needing a nap.

The result is an easy-drinking, beautifully hued ale that’s got that honey sweetness and rich hazelnut flavor.

I hope you like it.

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved at OnMilwaukee in our first 25 years,” says Tarnoff, “and I’m proud to have this great beer from our friends at The Explorium to celebrate with.”


The beer is available on tap and in cans at both locations of The Explorium Brewpub. Pints are $7, 4-ounce tasting pours are $3 and 16-ounce four-pack cans are $14.

The beer will also make some special appearances at upcoming events, so stay tuned for more on that!

“This beer represents the great city we live in and an amazing partnership between The Explorium and OnMilwaukee," says brewpub owner Mike Doble. 

"It is a celebration of the OnMilwaukee staff, and all of the hard work they do to showcase our city, and promote small breweries in Milwaukee.”

The Explorium's Social Media and Marketing Coordinator Jamie Heijnen adds, "This beer is so good, it’s nuts … HAZELnuts!”

Cheers to the first 25 and to the next 25, too.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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.