I had dinner in at The Publican in Chicago over the weekend.
Opened just eight months, The Publican is one of the newer dining destinations in Chicago but is affiliated with the success and adulation of others like Blackbird, Avec and The Violet Hour. All under the same ownership, The Publican reinvents yet another culinary tradition: the German or Belgian beer hall.
At initial glance, the beer list is far longer than any other menu the hostess has to offer. Carrying a rotating list of easily 100 beers, bottles travel from France, Germany, Belgium and Norway to be drained into the single specified glass created for the individual perfect pour and ultimate sipping experience.
According to the bartender, server and surrounding diners, the concept is a newly exciting phenomenon in Chicago.
We, as Milwaukeeans, on the other hand, were not overtly surprised.
Maybe it's this city's German heritage or boisterous obsession with microbrews, but in Milwaukee, Belgian rarities are more and more the norm. Long lists of authentic Belgian and German brews are standard at places like the Palm Tavern, Sugar Maple, Roman's Pub and Von Trier. Café Centraal stocks nearly 90 beers, each paired with its namesake glass.
Have we simply become accustomed to this kind of extravagant selection? Or are we simply sitting on the pulse of international brewing and beer snobbery?
As a result of our constant consumption and citywide identity, do we simply demand something more?
Honestly, it's hard to say. Miller does a good business in Milwaukee, openly satisfying all those thirsty drinkers who want to keep it plain and simple. And there's no guilt in that.
On the flip side, we have a hardcore beer nerd contingency looking for variety in imports and microbrews. But then again, so do cities like Boulder, Colo and Portland, Ore..
Can we justifiably say we're different from that?
I want to say "yes," but my mental retort is cloaked in more Milwaukee pride than statistical data or scientific fact.
So, what's your science? Do you think Milwaukee is ahead of the game when it comes to beer selection and brewery appreciation?
Use the Talkback feature below and weigh in on this thirsty debate.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.