The following is my list of 5 dominant brew pubs. This is largely (but not entirely) a regional list since I haven't visited too many brewpubs outside of Wisconsin. But there are a shitload of brewpubs in Wisconsin and I've patronized most of them. I think that I can safely say that this list probably represents the best brewpubs in the United States... possibly.. the world. It's also topical because there is a bill before the Wisconsin Senate that is pissing of some brewpubs owners. Basically, the bill makes it difficult for brewpubs that sell food to also sell their beer to other bars or liquor stores. In protest, the owner of the Milwaukee Ale House, um, dumped a bunch of beer in the Milwaukee river. I think he was trying to mimic the Boston Tea Party or something, but it was still a really stupid thing to do. They have some good beer for Chrisake. It seems like a waste to just dump it into the river. They could have at leasr given it to homeless people. Anyway, I don't really "understand" the bill or the protest, but I know that it has something to do with beer. And I like beer. And here are 5 dominant brewpubs:
1. The Great Dane. The Dane is located on King St., just off the Capital Square in Madison, WI. There are actually three locations, but the other two feel more like Applebees than Brewpubs. They all have the same dominant beer, but the downtown location is the best. They have six nice pool tables and good food. They also have really good beer. My favorite is the Devil's Lake Red. It's awesome. It has a creamy head, almost like a Boddington's, but it's red. The Peck's Pils is also good, but I think it has cocaine in it or something. Every time I drink the Pils I end up waking up on my back in the Capital's lawn.
2. The Lakefront Brewery. The Lakefront Brewery is located on Commerce Ave. in Milwaukee, WI. I suppose that technically it's a microbrewery as opposed to a brewpub, but that distinction is largely illusory because you can definitely go to the Lakefront Brewery and get shit-faced. You can also get a Friday fish fry. As far as I'm concerned, that makes it a pub. The LFB, which is not on the lakefront, was opened when two brothers that were both home-brewers bought an old bakery and turned it into a brewery. They eventually upgraded to a bigger building on the Milwaukee River. It was basically the only building for like a mile. But lately, condos have been sprouting up all around the joint. So basically, these guys have themselves a goldmine. The best thing about the Lakefront Brewery is the tour. It costs $5 and includes a pint glass and five beers. I used to live a few hundred yards away so I've taken the tour about twenty times. Unlike the Miller tour, which is led by some rando college chick majoring in marketing or something, the LFB tour is often led by the owners, or at least the guys that make the beer. Also, you get your free beer before and during the tour instead of at the end. The LFB also owns Bernie Brewer's old chalet and slide from County Stadium. On some tours they let you go down the slide. But lately I think they've shied away from that because of the liability issues that surround a big slide coupled with lots of beer. Their best beer is the East Side Dark, but they also have some atypical varieties like the coffee-flavored Fuel Cafe, and the pumpkin pie flavored Pumpkin Lager. That last one actually isn't as bad as it sounds. And I'm definitely a guy that prefers his beer to be beer-flavored.
3. The Milwaukee Ale House. The Ale House is located on Water Street in Milwaukee's third ward. It's right on the river, which makes for a lovely outdoor dining experience. They usually have solid bands playing on weekends too. Their best brew is definitely Louie's Demise. Louie's Demise is named after somebody's (I'm not sure who's) great great uncle Louie, who was killed with a beer glass in a barroom scuffle. Or something like that. Stupid story, but a good beer.
They also have a good one called Sheepshead Stout, which, obvious to Milwaukeeans, is named after the popular card game.
4. The Wasatch Pub & Brewery. I first encountered Wasatch beer at the Salt Lake City airport on my way to Vegas. We had a layover so we stopped for a beer at the nearest bar in the terminal. We were a little worried that a beer would be hard to find in Utah, given the state's reputation for being fucking crazy. But we learned very quickly that at least one person in the state of Utah has a sense of humor. Wasatch's flagship brew is called Polygamy Porter. Awesome. And it's not just a clever name, it's pretty good. A little lighter and sweeter than your average porter, but very tasty. They also brew a First Amendment Lager and an Evolution Ale. I bet the locals love them.
5. Goose Island. Goose Island is a Chicago Brew Pub in Wrigleyville. I've been to Goose Island a bunch of times. Their beer is solid and their food is satisfying enough (although last time I was there, I think it may have done some damage. Until I can confirm that, it's staying in the top 5). I'm a big fan of their main beverage, Honkers Ale. It's also a brilliant business plan in my book. And those goose head taps are sharp marketing.
That's all I got for my first 5 Things. If I feel like it, I'll do another one next Thursday. Also, if you happen to be the proprietor of a brew pub that I did not mention and you think you deserve a spot on my list, please send me some of your beer and I will consider revising my list.