It’s really hard for an owner to create a good beer bar if they don’t know much about craft beer. It sounds obvious, but what I mean is that if you have a dozen or so tap lines and aren’t clever with curating a nice mix, then you’re missing the point.
This isn’t a problem at the newly opened Camino (434 S. 2nd St.). Owner Casey Rataczak spent years behind the bar at places like Hi-Hat Café and Café Hollander Downer and worked as a rep for a local beer distributor. The man knows his beer, and that was apparent when I perused the 20 taps at Camino during a weekend visit. A nice mix of styles from brewers like Founders, Ballast Point, Great Lakes, Three Floyds, O’so, Deschutes, Lakefront and Lake Louie (which you certainly don’t see everywhere) provide plenty of good choices. There aren’t any throwaways on the tap line. There’s also a short menu of a few standout large format bottles.
The cozy spot serves a large list of unique sandwiches (that includes an outstanding burger) and all made in a kitchen area behind the bar. The interior is largely reclaimed wood—highlighted by the old ladder pieces that serve as a railing around a few arcade games in the back—and some of the walls are adorned with old concert posters that Rataczak discovered in the basement.
I had a few tasty brews at the friendly bar and pumped a few bucks into a vintage Capt. Fantastic pinball machine in the back. That’s a fine way to spend a Saturday.
Champps for Charity
The craft beer community is a large one, and it turns out in droves when good beer meets a great cause. On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Champps Americana (1240 S. Moorland Rd.) hosts the fourth annual Kaden’s Wish fundraiser. The event is spearheaded by Kaden Stark, a 10-year-old battling a rare mitochondrial disease who wanted to create a fundraiser to benefit other kids through Make-A-Wish Wisconsin. The festivities include beer specials, a tapping of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA that can be sampled for a donation, and a silent auction of rare beers, sports memorabilia and other fun stuff.
So far, Kaden and Champps have raised more than $130,000 to help kids realize their wishes. Way to go Kaden, and cheers to owner Tony Lewanovich and the entire Champps crew for hosting an awesome event.
Learn more about Kaden and his family from this great piece put together by Tom Pipines and Fox 6 last year.
Barley Pop of the Week
Three Floyds is never bashful and Alpha Kong Belgian Ale is potent reminder of this. I finally got my hands on a bottle of the brew. It has a fruity sweetness that gives way to bitterness from hops and I’m guessing the cardamom that it’s brewed with. It finishes with a hint of booze and it’s definitely a beer meant for fall drinking.
Does your favorite beer bar follow these five rules?
I wrote about her a couple of years ago, but it’s always good to revisit Em at Pints and Panels. An extremely clever way to review beer.
Monday, Nov, 2: Draft & Vessel (4417 N. Oakland Ave.) hosts a bottle share at 7 p.m. Bring a single 22-ounce bottle or two 12-ounce bottles that you’d like to share. Anything kind of rare is a good idea.
Wednesday, Nov. 4: Head to Motor Bar & Restaurant (401 W. Canal St.) at 5:30 p.m. for a harvest-themed dinner with Milwaukee Brewing Company. Check out the menu and make a reservation at 414-287-2778. There were a few tickets left as of last week.
Wednesday, Nov. 4: North Coast takes over the taps at Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) and is bringing barrel-aged Rasputin Stout.
Wednesday, Nov. 4: Try German Ales at Bierklasse, which starts at 7 p.m. at Café Bavaria (7700 Harwood Ave.). Cost is $30.
Thursday, Nov. 5: Romans’ Pub (3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) hosts a New Belgium Sweets ‘n Sours night. Try last year’s Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout and La Folie Sour Brown Ale or the 2015 Le Terroir Dry-Hopped Sour Ale and Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale.
Saturday, Nov. 7: Try beer from Kenosha’s Public Craft Brewing at Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.).