Brew City: Lighting Up the Menomonee Valley With Amber Ale

Straightforward beers and an industrial aesthetic at the new City Lights Brewing, plus our barley pop of the week and a load of foamy activities for the last full week of February.

A Trip to City Lights Brewing
Last weekend, I followed the beacon provided by the massive white lights on the City Lights Brewing sign into the Menomonee Valley and into the taproom of City Lights (2210 W. Mt. Vernon Ave.). The busy taproom has a welcoming industrial aesthetic that combines exposed beams, wooden tables, glazed brick and floor-to-ceiling windows that peer into the gleaming brewing area. If you want to see detailed pics of the entire facility, check out the outstanding photos by Kristine Hinrichs that documents the process of turning City Lights into a reality.

For now, the beer options are straightforward – Amber Ale, Brown Ale, Session IPA and IPA (head brewer Jimmy Gohsman plans on expanding the lineup). My favorites are the City Lights Amber, which has a nice malt flavor with a mildly bitter finish, and Session IPA, which has good hops flavor for a beer that clocks in at just 4.5% ABV.

I’m talking more with Gohsman this week and will let you know his philosophy as a brewer and his vision for the new space.


Barley Pop of the Week
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I poured a Founders Frootwood Barrel-Aged Cherry Ale. It’s an interesting mix – a cherry ale aged in oak barrels that have held both bourbon and maple syrup. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not a boozy barrel-aged concoction. Instead, the barrel mellows the tartness of the cherry and provides a smooth finish with just a hint of booze and maple. I initially intended to cellar a couple of the bottles in the four-pack that I bought, but I’m rethinking it. I don’t want the cherry flavor to drop out too much, it’s just fine where it is.


Quick Taps
Gathering Place Brewing Company (811 E. Vienna Ave.) is in the works, but the place could use some cash for a walk-in cooler and a bar in the tasting room. That’s where Kickstarter comes in. Gathering Place is on its way to the $25,000 it needs. You can help and earn some swag in the process.

I missed Food & Wine’s list of the 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed when it was originally posted. But I did catch Josh Noel’s similar article in the Chicago Tribune. Both are worth a read.

I secured my ticket to pick up Founders KBS at the brewery in early March. I’m excited about my trip to Grand Rapids and will let you know how it goes.


Events Brewing
Tuesday, Feb. 21: For just $10, you can sample a flight of four brews from Summit at The Brass Tap (7808 W. Layton Ave.).

Wednesday, Feb. 22: The Milwaukee Beer Society looks into the beauty of barleywines from 6 to 9 p.m. at Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.).

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Michigan’s Shorts Brewing takes over the taps at Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) at 5 p.m. They make good beer. Enough said.

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Surly Brewing is making a visit to The Malt Shoppe (813 N. Mayfair Rd.) at 5 p.m. Purchasing a four-pack, pint or growler provides a “special opportunity.” Show up to find out what that is.

Thursday, Feb. 23: One of the guys from Third Space is bringing some brews to The Malt Shoppe at 5 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 23: Revolution is the featured brewery at Whole Foods Market (11100 W. Burleigh St.) starting at 6:30 p.m. Get $3 pints of Revolution brews like the tasty A Little Crazy Belgian IPA or the potent Straight Jacket Barrel-Aged Barley Wine.

Friday, Feb. 24: Try beers from Black Husky at Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.) from 4 to 6 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 24: Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.) hands out samples of Good City from 3 to 6 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 24: Fat Friday at Stubby’s (2060 N. Humboldt Ave.) means alligator nachos, jambalaya, po’ boys and a chance to win a year’s supply of beer from Abita. It’s all accompanied by music from The Extra Crispy Brass Band, which starts at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 25: MobCraft and Good City are both offering samples at Discount Liquor Milwaukee starting at noon.

Saturday, Feb. 25: Try samples from Veteran Brewing at Discount Liquor Waukesha from noon to 3 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 25: It’s anyone’s guess what the weather will be like for the Urban Candlelight Hike on the Hank Aaron State Trail. But, there’s certainty in the fact that Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) is hosting the after party starting 7 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 26: The monthly Brewer Series at Sugar Maple (441 E. Lincoln Ave.) hosts Stone Brewing from 4 to 6 p.m. For just $15 you can try five samples of some really good Stone brews, including barrel-aged Arrogant Bastard Ale.



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 15 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for close to 25.