An Early Review of Ope! Brewing

West Allis’ Ope Brewing can win over fans even without great beer.

Photo by Jami Balicki

Back in, say, 2017, breweries were for, well, beer people – the sniffers, the contemplators, those who debate the merits of Czech vs. German pilsners. (I am one of these people.) Sure, everyone was welcome, but the product was, usually and naturally, the center of attention.

Breweries opening in 2022 enter a market more crowded than ever – by midsummer, metro Milwaukee had 53, up from just 19 seven years ago, not to mention another handful of brewery taprooms. In other words, the beer people might be spoken for. But the other 90% of the population spends money, too.  

As I sit in the spacious and lively taproom of the new Ope! Brewing in West Allis, I’m seeing this 90%, of many ages and walks of life, spending money. Quartets on high-tops are laughing together, a couple nestled in a cozy couch lean together to look at a phone, a group in Brewers gear chatter about Christian Yelich’s swing over their pints. In one corner, just in front of the open garage-style doors, cheers erupt after a steel-tip dart hits a bullseye. About half my fellow patrons are women, a bit unusual for a brewery.    

The day after this visit, construction began on the expansive front patio, where, by the time you read this, there should be cornhole, bocce, volleyball courts, fire pits and dedicated space for food trucks.    


 

END THE YEAR OFF RIGHT WITH EXPERT FINANCIAL TIPS

Join us for a free webinar on Dec. 7 about year-end financial planning including: account management, credit needs and taxes. Register for expert tips today


Ope’s not-so-secret sauce is that there’s something for just about everyone here. The menu of liquids ranges wide, with (quite good) house-made hard seltzers and fruited sours in equal number with IPAs and lagers on the 16 taps. Multiple non-alcoholic beers (not brewed on site) are available, too. 

I had high expectations for the beer, given head brewer and co-owner Kyle Ciske’s track record at The Explorium Brewpub in Greendale, but the brews were disappointing on my first visits – most were OK, none was outstanding, and some were clear misfires.

Photo by Jami Balicki

The gotta-try beers from these first batches were the light and refreshing kölsch called But Is It Traditional? and the ’Scuse Me pale ale. The H2Ope hard seltzers were flavorful and crushable, and the Ope! Sourry series of tart Berliner weisses was another high point, particularly the strawberry rhubarb version. I expect the beer to improve as Ciske and co-owners Adam Anders and John Onopa dial in their new 15-barrel brewhouse.  

As you can tell from those beer names, the “brand” is very clever, banking on a Berensian Midwestern cultural terroir that certainly seems to be peaking right now. They’re going to sell some T-shirts for sure.  

Beer people like to say that beer can be for everyone. That might be true, but beer, seltzers, games, comfy couches and food trucks are definitely for everyone. 


Ope! That’s a Good Name 

  • Jeet Yet?  Oatmeal milk stout with Valentine coffee and vanilla 
  • Didn’t See Ya There Hazy IPA Laaager American lager
  • The Perfect Screw-Driver Orange milkshake IPA (the brewery is in the former home of Perfect Screw Products.)
  • Let Me Sneak Past Ya  Hazy IPA

Ope! Brewing

6751 W. NATIONAL AVE., WEST ALLIS

Hours: Wed-Thurs 4-10 p.m., Fri-Sat noon-11 p.m., Sun noon-7 p.m.  
Food: No kitchen, food trucks available


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s August issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.

Comments

comments

Executive editor, Milwaukee Magazine. Aficionado of news, sports and beer. Dog and cat guy. (Yes, both.)