The Beer-lover’s Guide to Black Friday in Milwaukee

Black Friday has become a pretty big day in the craft beer world, and in Milwaukee it just keeps getting bigger.

Black Friday as a beer-lover’s holiday originally picked up steam thanks to Chicago’s Binny’s Beverage Depot, which has created massive events surrounding Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout release for nearly a decade.

Locally, Lakefront Brewery began leading the way for beer festivities on the day after Thanksgiving in 2012. That was when it released Black Friday Imperial Black IPA. The brewery has been offering a barrel-aged imperial stout since 2014.

This year, the slate is filled with worthy beer events in and around Milwaukee. Plan your day accordingly to hit a few of these standouts.

Two Lakefront Black Friday Stout Bottles
Photo courtesy of Lakefront Brewery.

1) Lakefront Brewery

Lakefront Brewery (1872 N. Commerce St.) is releasing not one but two barrel-aged stouts. Black Friday 2018 is aged for 10 months in bourbon barrels and costs $20 per bottle (limit three bottles). Black Friday Vintage Reserve is an intriguing blend of 2015, 2016 and 2017 barrels of the imperial stout. Expect this rarity to be in high demand. There’s a limit of one bottle per person at $30. The fun starts at 8 a.m., but get there much, much earlier to receive a wristband that ensures you get a bottle.

2) Third Space Brewing

Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) releases Liquid Layers Spiced Barleywine, and four barrel-aged variants of the barleywine, at noon. This is a tap-only release, which means no bottles are available. It’s more than the 2018 vintage though. Third Space is also tapping 2016 and 2017 Liquid Layers vintages. They’ll also pour a surprise In the Spirit barrel-aged beer. It’s a day of winter warmers.

3) Urban Harvest Brewing

When Urban Harvest Brewing (1024 S. 5th St.) opens at 1 p.m. it’ll be pouring Imperial Chocolate Whiskey Stout. The brew is made with the help of cocoa nibs and whiskey-infused oak.

4) Explorium Brewpub

Explorium Brewpub (5300 S. 76th St.) is offering bottles of Holy Cowza! Rum Barrel-Aged Coffee Imperial Brown Ale starting at 6 a.m. There are only 300 bottles available, but you can try it on tap too. The bombers are $14 and there’s a limit of two per person.

5) Gathering Place Brewing

Gathering Place Brewing (811 E. Vienna Ave.) is having a Black Friday sale. Starting at noon, bottles of The Wordsmith Wheatwine are just $10 (normally they’re $13). The brew has a nice, warming ABV of 10.8%.

Raised Grain Brewing Santa's Sack Ale Cans
Photo courtesy of Raised Grain Brewing.

6) Raised Grain Brewing

At 10 a.m., Raised Grain Brewing (2244 W. Bluemound Rd.) opens its doors to patrons who want to pick up Santa’s Sack Christmas Ale. This year, the beer is available in bourbon, port and brandy barrel-aged varieties. Mixed four packs containing the original beer and the three barrel-aged versions are available for $15. The beers are also available on tap.

7) Westallion Brewing Company

Candy Cane Lane Peppermint Stout makes its debut at Westallion Brewing Company (1825 S. 72nd St.) on tap and in bottles. It doesn’t really get any more festive than that.

8) Broken Bat Brewing

Shopping in the Third Ward on Black Friday? Make a stop at Broken Bat Brewing (231 E. Buffalo St.) after noon for a pint or two of While We Wait Spiced Winter Ale. The holiday brew is made with orange peel, seeds of paradise and coriander.

9) Discount Liquor

Both Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.) and Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow St.) are hosting the annual White Whale sale starting at 9 a.m. on both Black Friday and Saturday. Expect plenty of limited release beers to choose from, including Bourbon County Brand Stout bottles.

10) Glass + Griddle

Glass + Griddle (1130 N. 9th St.) is tapping 10 different stouts to warm holiday shoppers. The taps start flowing at 11 a.m. and include a few barrel-aged varieties.

11) Harley-Davidson Museum

The Harley-Davidson Museum (400 W. Canal St.) hosts its 7th Annual Black Friday Beerfest from 4 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 for general admission and $65 for VIP, which gets you in the door an hour early at 3 p.m.

12) Stubby’s Gastrogrub and Beer Bar

Stubby’s Gastrogrub and Beer Bar (2060 N. Humboldt Ave.) opens at 10 a.m. to provide sustenance to the masses attending the festivities at the nearby Lakefront Brewery. Brunch starts when the doors open, and oh yeah, Stubby’s is tapping a pair of barrel-aged beauties in Central Waters Black Gold Imperial Stout and Founders KBS.

13) Ray’s Wine & Spirits

If you miss Black Friday, Ray’s Wine & Spirits (8930 W. North Ave.) has you covered with Super Saturday on Nov. 24. The annual event starts at 8 a.m. and gives you the chance to get your hands on some rare brews in the store and pouring from the taps in Ray’s Growler Gallery. Toppling Goliath Morning Delight Imperial Stout is on the list. That’s really all you need to know.

14) Milwaukee Brewing

Milwaukee Brewing (1128 N. 9th St.) opens its taproom from noon to 10 p.m. with deals on beer and merch. The big draw is a cellar-aged beer bottle sale. Snag bombers of brews like 2017 Gin Barrel-Aged O-Gii Wit and 2016 Elf’s Lament Spiced Belgian for just $15.99.



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 20 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for a few years more.