By Dave Roloff Published Dec 23, 2004 at 5:37 AM Photography: Neil Kiekhofer of Front Room Photography

{image1}It once served as a bootlegging hotspot, but now Romans' Pub, 3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., serves up 28 microbrews -- from all over the globe -- to a city thirsty for its beer. And not only is this bar brimming with authentic brews, but a unique history and an antique-laden décor really top off this pub's pour.

In the late 1800s Kinnickinnic Avenue was a well-traveled route to get south of the city, and the building housing Romans' was a roadhouse for travelers en route to and from Milwaukee. And the stables that corralled their horses and carriages are still out back.

"During prohibition the pub thrived as a venue for bootlegging -- it's loaded with secret compartments for when they had to hide their liquor," says Mike Romans, who's owned the pub for 26 years. "There are all sorts of trap doors, false walls and secret hiding spots. Once in a while I find an old bottle in the back of the building."

And although history runs strong for Romans and his bar, seven years ago he decided to differentiate his establishment from the many "shot and a beer" bars that drenched the St. Francis scene with -- what was at the time -- a modernism. Microbrews.

Romans' venture to specialize in imports certainly didn't run dry -- microbrew pubs have been ceaselessly popping up ever since. Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest Marzen from Germany and the Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale from Colorado are just two on the long list of brews spilling out of the barrels.

{image2}While Romans' spotlights microbrews, dozens of other bottled beers -- including domestics -- are available, along with liquors and cigars galore.

But the ever-rotating menu -- and the Web site, -- is beginner beer-drinker-friendly for those interested in the many micros on tap, giving each brew a detailed description.

And not only are the imports authentic at Romans', but so is the way they are selected and served. For some, a European beer engine is pumped by hand creating vacuum pressure that sucks beer up the line, and then the prize is poured into a mug, pint or chalice.

To really top off the experience at Romans', there's plenty of antique beer memorabilia -- from beer signs from around the world to a classic Blatz clock -- to take in as you sip or chug your brew.

Romans' Pub is open Monday-Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m., and is closed on Sunday.

Dave was born and raised on the south side of Milwaukee. He is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh where he graduated in Business while playing four years of football. He is a sports junkie who, instead of therapy, just watches the Bucks and the Brewers. Dave is a season ticket holder for the Brewers, Bucks and Packers, as well as a football coach at Greendale High School. Dave still likes to think he still can play baseball but has moved on to the more pedestrian sports of bowling and golf. Dave is a Pisces and it depends on whom he is walking with to determine whether he likes long walks on the beach. Dave writes with an encyclopedic knowledge and a sarcastic flare. Mainly to insure his sanity.