In Bars & Clubs

In Bars & Clubs

Romans' microbrews filleth Milwaukee's cup

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.

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, romanspub.com -- 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.

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