Best patio for a really big beer fest
Third Space Brewing
1505 W. St. Paul Ave.
An old, unused loading dock and a very large parking lot combine to give Third Space plenty of room to work with. Thankfully, the space doesn’t go unused. It’s the home of several picnic tables and frequent food truck visits.
It’s also the area that hosts the Wisconsin IPA Fest each summer. The event is one of the best of the year and draws a crowd to the ample asphalt.
Best fit for the neighborhood
Black Husky Brewing
909 E. Locust St.
Riverwest bohemia seamlessly meets the Northwoods at the busy corner of Bremen and Locust.
A smattering of cozy Adirondaks on a large graveled patio provide the perfectly unassuming place to sip on a Sproose 2 IPA and watch the goings on in the neighborhood. If it was too fancy, this patio just wouldn’t fit in Riverwest. It’s perfect.
Best brewery alternative to tailgating
City Lights Brewing
2200 W. Mt. Vernon Ave.
The ample picnic table seating in the shadow of the classic City Lights building is definitely a plus. But this patio gets the nod because of its proximity to Miller Park.
The beer garden is an ideal pregame spot (second only to tailgating in a ballpark parking lot) for Brewers games. Settle in, have a couple of beers and hop on the free City Lights shuttle which gets to Miller Park in less than 10 minutes.
Best brewery spot on the fashionable East Side
Good City Brewing
2108 N. Farwell Ave.
The large rooftop deck at Good City’s East Side location is the perfect place to quench your thirst while being drenched in sunlight.
Get there early enough to commandeer a spot at one of several wooden tables. Grab an order of delicious curry fries and a Motto Mosaic Pale Ale (or a few) and prepare for a long and enjoyable stay.
Best riverside beer drinking
1872 N. Commerce St.
This amazingly inviting spot hugs the bank of the Milwaukee River and bustles in the summer with beer drinkers who’ve just finished a Lakefront tour and have moved on to watching kayaks and rowers pass by.
The towering Holton Street Bridge provides an oddly picturesque backdrop for sipping on a Riverwest Stein or Lakefront IPA. It’s really difficult to imagine a better way to use the river.
Best repurposing of a mall
5300 S. 76th St.
Owner Mike Doble deserves credit for essentially transforming the nondescript façade of Southridge Mall into one of the best beer gardens in the city.
The inviting spot has it all — a large bar, a smattering of picnic tables, a fire pit, a really big Jenga game, Explorium’s ample list of beers — and that’s what draws crowds to the south side spot.
Best hilltop beer garden
Milwaukee Brewing Company
1128 N. 9th St.
The shiny, relatively new addition to the MKE Brewing family is an expansive space with plenty of places to sit down and enjoy a MKE IPA or Louie’s Demise. But the spot also sits in the middle of the miracle that is the Pabst Brewery complex. The once shuttered old brewery is now a vibrant area on a small hill that overlooks downtown.
The location is an ideal spot before events at Fiserv Forum, and it’s a strong reminder of both Milwaukee’s beer heritage and its craft beer future.