Tuesday, November 10, 2015

One Barrel Brewing Company

After making a hasty post-dinner exit from Next Door, we decided to check out One Barrel Brewing Company, which was highly recommended to use by our Uber driver on our way to dinner.  Since we had nothing to lose, we mapped it out and made the 1-mile walk over.

What a cute little place.  We learned when we got there that they got their name because they are what they call a "nano-brewery".  They only brew beers One Barrel at a time, so everything on tap is VERY limited.

By the time we got there, it was pretty late, so we didn't mess around with tasters.  We each ended up getting our own drinks.  I ordered the Chai Town brown ale, and my friends ordered a Greg Hull Raspberry Lambic (named after a bar regular) and a stout,which I unfortunately can't remember the name of!  All were pretty good and unique!

I wish we'd gotten there earlier since their entire beer list looked interesting and considering their limited stock, I'd imagine the beer menu would be completely different the next time I visit!  I would highly recommend making a stop there when in Madison!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Next Door Brewing Company: Skip

We had high hopes for Next Door Brewing Company.  It was a short Uber ride from our hotel, and it was highly recommended by one of my traveling companions' beer buddies.  We had checked out the food menu and the beer list online, and it seemed like it'd be a good choice for dinner after we checked into our hotel in Madison.  

We should have known this wasn't the case, when we first walked in!

For one thing, there wasn't a host at the host stand.  Since we weren't sure if it was a restaurant-style brewpub (where the host seats you) or a bar-style brewpub (where you can sit wherever you want), we just stood there awkwardly until we were able to flag down someone who looked like they worked there.  

We did get seated fairly promptly, and my friend asked about their $2 Badger shots that they had on special, as indicated by a prominent sign on the wall.  We were told it was red and not very good.  Huh.  Interesting.

We then ordered a sampler of 4 of our choosing.  We decided to go with a variety including an IPA, a Red Ale, an Oktoberfest, and a Stout.  This is where Next Door broke a record: none of us liked any of them!  They were all pretty mediocre tasting, to be frank.  

Unfortunately for them, their food wasn't any better.  My friend and I both ordered their Cauliflower Saffron soup.  Just like the beer, it also tasted like nothing.  I thought perhaps I was overcritical of the soup, until I saw that my friend was adding salt and pepper to hers like crazy.  

In addition to the soup, I also had the world's smallest salad.  Perhaps I'd been spoiled, having been served ginormous salads at Horny Goat and Milwaukee Ale House.  I was definitely not impressed.  Unfortunately for my friend, she ordered the mac and cheese and ended up seriously burning the inside of her mouth (even though she had eaten her entire soup prior to trying the mac and cheese).  

Not a good experience all around.  We ended up not finishing the little tasters and just going to a different bar down the street that our Uber driver had recommended.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tyranena: A Fun Little Stop

Once we left Sprecher, our next stop was Tyranena, which was on our way to Madison.  Located in Lake Mills, WI, it's about 20 minutes from Madison with not much else around.  They have a super cute tap room and beer garden, and feature live music on Saturdays.

Their tap room only serves beer, but you're free to bring your own food.  They even have gas grills for folks to use!  They're even dog-friendly, as long as they aren't too many dogs already there, and your dog gets along with the house dogs.  They recommend calling ahead of time if you plan to bring your dog to verify the situation.  It's a pretty cool set-up, especially if you happen to be from around there and want to plan a cookout or picnic.

As it was, we were just passing by, so we didn't bring any food or dogs ;-)  We ended up getting their sampler, which featured 9 different beers (they choose which ones you get, unfortunately).  There were 10 beers on tap, so for good measure, we ordered a full beer of the one that wasn't included.

In general, all the beers were pretty good.  However, my friends and I all prefer boldly flavored beers, so we clearly weren't impressed with the lighter ones.  My favorites were:

  1. The Imperial Maple Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels
    This was the one not included in the sampler.  And it was delicious!  Glad we ordered it separately
  2. Who's Your Daddy Imperial Oatmeal Porter
    Deeply flavored, thick and strong!
  3. Rocky's Revenge
    Always a favorite of mine!

I also enjoyed their Bourbon Barrel Aged Suprise, the Bitter Woman IPA, the Chief Blackhawk Porter, and the Painted Ladies Pumpkin Spice Ale.

I would have preferred if they just sold taster portions of each beer, or at least let us pick which ones we wanted to try.  I guess I understand the concept of making people buy "The Sampler" that includes all the regular beers and omits the special ones.  But in our case, we really didn't drink the Three Beaches Honey Blonde, the Headless Man Amber Alt, and the Oktoberfest.  I could have told you from the start we weren't going to like those.

What a waste of beer.  I would have preferred if we could just do a sampler of the ones we wanted to try, and then maybe pick one of them to have a full beer from.  I'm guessing they would have sold us more beer if they did it that way, since we wouldn't have wasted our time tasting so many.  By the time we were done with the tasters and the 1 full beer we shared, we'd been there long enough and it was time to move on.

The live music was a nice touch and it was a cool ambiance.  I'd imagine it'd be hard to spend too much time here though, since there really wasn't much around.  You'd have to be staying pretty close by to take full advantage of what they have to offer!  I'd definitely come back, and maybe plan a cookout or picnic next time!  At least I know what beers of theirs I like now, so I can just order full beers of the ones I like!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sprecher: Worth the Tour!

After lunch at Milwaukee Ale House, we checked out of our hotel then headed up to Sprecher.  We had actually tried buying tickets to their 3:15 tour but it was already sold out!  Since it was only a 15 minute drive from our hotel, we figured we'd still stop by, check out their tap room, and buy some beer.

WELL!  When we got there, we were informed the taproom was only for people who went on the tour.  You couldn't just go there and buy beer.  Booo!  But, the guy at the register told us to check ask the tour guide if there was still space on the tour (even though we knew it was sold out online).

Lucky for us he told us that!  The tour guide sold us 3 tour tickets on the spot and closed the door behind us.  I'm not sure if people didn't show up for the tour, or if we were just lucky he was lenient.  In any case, an extra 3 people didn't make it overly crowded, so we were in!  First thing he did was pour us all beers.  Ha.

The tour was pretty cool and our guide was funny, entertaining, and informative.  What more could you ask for?  Of course the highlight of the tour was the end when we got to go to the taproom and get tasters of everything.  They also had some light snacks for sale (which we took advantage of and bought cheese curds of course!  #becausewisconsin).

The unfortunate part of going on the 3:15 tour is that it's around 4 when you're done with the tour, and the tap room closes at 5.  Which means we didn't get to use all our beer tickets by the time it was last call.  Which was ok with us since we still had 2 more breweries to visit that day!  I would definitely go back and either drink faster or catch an earlier tour!

In any case, my favorite of the day was their hard apple pie, which I surprisingly enjoyed more than their Rye IPA and their stout!  What?!  Perhaps I'd been drinking a lot of beer that weekend already and found the Apple Pie light and refreshing?  In any case, I ended up going home with a few bottles of that, in addition to my favorite (the Abbey Trippel) and some stouts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Milwaukee Ale House: A Nice River View!

Our 3rd stop on our 2015 Wisconsin Brew-venture was Milwaukee Ale House!

After our weird visit at Water Street Brewing the night before, we slept in on Saturday and walked over to Milwaukee Ale House around noon for some brunch.  Unfortunately, it looks like they only serve brunch on Sundays, since they only had a lunch menu!  Boo, negative one for them right off the bat!  

They made up for it thought!  We ordered cheese curds for starts again #becausewisconsin.  And a round of beers.  I had a squash stout, which was quite tasty!  I forgot what my friends ordered since I was busy enjoying my own beer.  I had another big ass salad for lunch, but this was admittedly quite a bit smaller than the one at Horny Goat the night before!  It was quite enjoyable, in any case!  

For dessert we shared this bottle of Barrel Aged Doppelvision.  Truth be told, doppelbock's aren't really my thing, but I still enjoyed this one.  Probably because I like bourbon, ha!  I think it makes all beers taste better ;-)  

I thought this was a cute spot overlooking the river.  It was also quite entertaining since there was an event going on, and boats kept passing by full of people wearing various costumes.  It was like a parade in the water!  

As we were leaving, we noticed there was a sign saying they offered 4 tasters for $7 or something like that.  If we had known, we would have ordered 2-3 of those so we could try more of the beers on the menu!  Something to keep in mind for next time!  I much prefer having smaller portions of more beers than a huge glass of one thing.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stop 2: Water Street Brewery

The second stop of our 2015 Brew-venture was Water Street Brewery in Milwaukee!  This might not be a very fair review of the bar, since we arrived around 11:15pm, but for completeness sake, I wanted to share our experience. 

The bar seemed like it had a fair number of people when we walked in, which was a good sign!  We had just finished dinner at Horny Goat, checked into our hotel, and walked over.  Seemed like a good place to go!  We didn't order food since we'd already had dinner, but instead each got a ginormous beer.  

My friend got the Raspberry Weiss, which was surprisingly mild-flavored considering the color.  I thought for sure it'd be distinctly fruity.  But it lacked overall flavor.  My other friend and I ordered the Punch You in the Eye PA.  Yes, I'm pretty sure it was all because of the name.  Though I actually wasn't all that impressed with the selection, so that was the one that sounded the best to me.  The other beers on draft were a lager light, a bavarian weiss, a raspberry weiss, that IPA, an amber, and an Oktoberfest.  So, mostly things that don't taste like anything.  

In any case, I think the IPA was overall pretty mediocre.  I honestly couldn't even remember what I'd had until I took a look at a picture I took of the beer list.  Thank goodness for smart phones!  

Anyways, the weird part of the evening was when the waitress said she was getting off her shift so she closed out our tab.  She said we could continue to order from the bar.  Great!  This always happens at other places, so we didn't think it was a big deal. The beers were huge so it would take us a while to drink anyways so no big deal.  Until 15 minutes later we realized we were the only ones in the bar besides the bartender.  

Um.  Was the bar closed?  Was it just so uncool that no one was there besides the poor saps from out of town?  I think we were so weirded out about been the only ones there, we chugged our beers and go the heck out of there.  The area seemed dead anyways, so maybe we chose wrong when we booked our hotel!  

Anyways, I'd say the beer was ok, but if you want to check this place out, perhaps it's best to go during the daytime!  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Horny Goat: Always a Good Time!

Horny Goat has a special place in my heart.  Honestly, any time I'm heading through Milwaukee, I always try to convince my car-mates to stop here!  They have a really cool outdoor space (complete with firepits for when it gets cold out) along the river, and they're also dog-friendly!  So perfect spot to stop when you're road tripping with your pooch.  On top of their great ambiance and friendly service, their food's pretty delicious and so is their beer!  

This stop on our 2015 Brew-venture was no exception.  As our first stop of the trip, we got there for a late dinner, since we didn't leave Chicago after work (around 6:30pm) and of course had to traffic and construction!  But it was all worth it when we got there!  

We started with their cheese curd appetizer #becausewisconsin, which obviously we delicious.  For dinner, I ordered a big-ass salad which was about the size of my head.  It was huge!  To go with my salad, I had the Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.  Which was AMAZING.  It was rich and dark, like drinking a dark chocolate Reese's milkshake.  In contrast, one of my friends had their Watermelon Wheat, which was quite refreshing.  My other friend had their seasonal Hornacopia pumpkin ale, which was very festive!  

For dessert, we had a giant cookie a la mode, and their Cereal Killer Breakfast Stout.  They complemented each other quite nicely!  

Normally I would highly recommend you going there, but I'm sad to say I found out they were closing their brewpub so they could focus exclusively on making good beer.  I guess we'll just have to try out their beer at other bars now!

Thanks for the memories, Horny Goat!