"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Stoli Vodka, Altos Tequila, Fireball, OR-G, Jim Beam, Plymouth Gin and 2 Gingers – is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
Milwaukee boasts an enviable array of home-grown beer, worthy, certainly, of a city dubbed Brew City. Selecting a favorite from this embarrassment of riches is difficult, but we tried. Add your favorites using the Talkback feature at the bottom, @OnMilwaukee or on Facebook.
Pick: Lakefront Brewery pumpkin lager
My absolute favorite Milwaukee beer is one that I'm not able to drink year round because, well, it's only available during the fall season. Lakefront Brewery's Pumpkin lager is a drink that's best enjoyed on a cool night, preferably at home watching countless horror movies during Halloween. Lakefront uses real pumpkin and a variety of spices made right in Milwaukee. Usually I'm not a fan of lagers, but this one is quite special because of its rich, delicious flavors. Oh, and I found out during a tour at Lakefront's brewery that the lager is actually one of the only Pumpkin lagers in the world. At this point, I just want winter to end, spring and summer to fly by, and fall to arrive so I can pop open a bottle of what makes the fall season even more perfect.
Staff writer/Film critic
Pick: Lakefront Brewery Riverwest Stein
I wish I had some fancy, cool, secretly brilliant beer to pick, but I'm going to go with a popular stand-by: Riverwest Stein. It's just a really great beer. It's refreshing and has great drinkability (whatever that means), but still with flavor that's not overpowering or with a skunky or overly aggressive hoppy aftertaste. As of writing, it's not just my first choice as my favorite Milwaukee beer; it's my first choice as my favorite beer.
Pick: Brenner Brewing's Bacon Bomb
This beer might not be my all-time favorite, I have been smitten with Milwaukee Brewing Company’s Love Rock (Flaming Damsel) since the first time I sampled it, but Bacon Bomb from Brenner Brewing Company is definitely my most recent favorite – and my most surprising favorite. Made without a single crumble of pig, this beer still tastes like everyone's favorite breakfast or "brinner" item (OK, maybe not everyone's ...). I don’t usually like beers that try to taste like anything other than beer, but I appreciate the smoky flavors – with a hint of chocolate and black pepper, too. Best of all, like my beer husband, Guinness, the Bacon Bomb is dark in color, full in flavor and yet still light in body and more refreshing than filling. If you stop in to try one, make sure it's almost closing time in the brewery's tasting room so you catch owner Mike Brenner’s remarkable rendition of "Purple Rain."
Pick: Leinie’s Big Eddy
Of course, with Sprecher, Lakefront, MKE Brewing, Brenner Brewing, Horny Goat and other great brewers in Milwaukee, it's hard to pick just one, so I’m cheating here a bit by selecting a range of small batch (45-80 barrels) beers made at Leinie’s 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee, rather than a single brew. I love the series because it’s ever-changing, with a few new and invariably interesting varieties appearing periodically. I especially enjoyed the chocolately Baltic Porter, the malty Wee Heavy Scotch Ale and the super dark Russian Imperial Stout, which packs a 9.5 percent ABV punch.