Like Minds Brewery kitchen is closed, at least for now
If you've paid a visit to Like Minds Brewery and Tap Room at 823 E. Hamilton St. lately, you've probably noticed the aging barrels encroaching upon the space that had been the brewery's dining room.
And it's a sign of changes on the way at the brewery and tap room, which once offered a full-service menu of creative, beer-worthy dishes.
According to Like Minds brewmaster and owner John Lavelle, a long-term solution is in the works. Currently, though, the kitchen is closed.
"We'll be bringing in food trucks on weekends for now," he says, noting that Iron Grate BBQ is on the docket for Friday, May 5. "And we have exciting plans on the docket. But they're not quite finalized."
Growth begets change
The decision was prompted by the brewery's rapid growth over the past few months, which has led to changes in the tap room's operations.
The tap room, closed Wednesday and Thursday of last week to accommodate the move of equipment and aging barrels into the brewery, has seen exponential growth since it closed its Chicago brewery and moved all operations to Milwaukee earlier this year.
The Chicago location was originally used to brew all of Like Minds' wild ales. However, after Justin Aprahamian parted ways with the brewery, Lavelle says it just wasn't practical to maintain two brewing operations.
"The transition meant we had to take a look at how we were doing things," he says. "In the end, it just wasn't practical to keep commuting to Chicago six days a week. So we made the decision to dedicate all of our brewing to wild ales in Milwaukee."
The move, which began in January, is slowly wrapping up. However, the aging barrels alone will occupy more space than the current brewery can accommodate. So a portion of the tap room is being converted into barrel-aging space.
The reduction in seating, paired with the strain of running a kitchen only during limited tap room hours, led Lavelle to consider the changes.
"We didn't want to remove food from the picture entirely," Lavelle notes. "But logistically, operating a full restaurant, as well as the brewery, was no longer practical."
As a result, Lavelle met with kitchen staff and the decision was made to scale back on the tap room offerings.
"It has simply become impossible to really meet the needs of guests in the dining room in the way we'd like," notes Lavelle. "And it really became unfair to the kitchen staff as well. So, in the end, it was a matter of balancing our growth with the level of service we wanted to offer."
Beginning this week, some kitchen staff have begun working in the brewery, while others have taken employment at Sanford Restaurant with Chef Aprahamian.
New beer releases
In the meantime, Like Minds is preparing for the release of seven new barrel-aged sours over the next six weeks.
New releases include Peche Marron, a double barrel-aged peach brown sour that has been aged for 16 months in both bourbon and wine barrels; d'Or with charred citrus, a 100 percent brett barrel fermented golden ale finished with charred grapefruit and orange along with lemon juice and zest; d'Or Hallertau Blanc, a 100 percent brettanomyces barrel fermented and finished with Hallertau Blanc; and a Door County Cherry Saison made from 100 percent brettanomyces barrel fermented American saison finished with Door County cherries.
"It's the fruition of the barrel aging program that we started over 18 months ago," says Lavelle. "The brewing and the waiting, it's all a process. And it's really exciting to be able to release these beers into the market."
The beers will be available in the coming weeks at local retailers, including Ray's, Discount Liquor and Otto's.
The Like Minds tap room is open Wednesday and Thursday from 2 to 10 p.m., Friday from 2 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from noon to midnight and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
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