When the first Café Hollander opened on Downer Avenue in 2006, the place boasted one of the best beer lists in Milwaukee. I lived two blocks away at the time and took full advantage of it. The menu was big on Belgians, had a nice supply of beers from Unibroue and served Kwak in the cool glass with the funky wooden stand. The beer options were pretty amazing, and largely consisted of quality imports.
Twelve years later, the local beer landscape has changed significantly. Earlier this week, Lowlands Group (owners of Café Hollander, Café Centraal, Café Benelux and Café Bavaria) announced that it was collaborating with five Milwaukee breweries (as well as five in Madison) to create local brews that will be served at Café Benelux (346 N. Broadway), Café Centraal (2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) and each area Café Hollander (several locations). The beers are available now in the Milwaukee restaurants and will be rolling out in a few weeks in Madison. They’re also be available in the taprooms of the breweries that crafted them.
What’s remarkable about this idea is that this couldn’t have been done just a few years ago. Four of the five Milwaukee area breweries involved – Good City Brewing, Third Space Brewing, Raised Grain Brewing and The Fermentorium – didn’t exist just three years ago. The fifth, Black Husky Brewing, was crafting its beer in the northern reaches of Wisconsin until moving from Pembine’s woody outskirts to Milwaukee in 2016.
Collabs aren’t anything new to Lowlands Group. The group has teamed up with Belgium’s Brouwerij De Musketiers and Brouwerij Van Steenberge, as well as standouts like Central Waters Brewing, Door County Brewing and Perennial Artisan Ales. But this attention to locals is a big move.
“We’ve been working on these collaborations with the brewers for months,” Ileana Rivera, beverage director at Lowlands Group, said in a press release. “It’s been a lot of fun working with each brewer to craft something unique from what everyone else has done. The lineup for launch is super diverse and perfect for summer.”
The styles are a mix of traditional and modern. For example, Good City is contributing a helles, a traditional German lager, while Raised Grain is creating a juicy imperial IPA, a style that has soared to popularity relatively recently.
Expect more collaborations in the future and a changing list of seasonal brews. And, cheers to Lowlands Group for spreading the love for Milwaukee’s local breweries.
Good City Sehr Gut Helles
Third Space Happy Place Citra
Raised Grain Oranje Juicy IIPA
The Fermentorium Blushing Aura English Mild Ale
Black Husky Tripel Dog Elite aged in Cabernet barrels
Madison Collabs (Available at the Café Hollander at Hilldale Shopping Center in Madison)
Karben4 Second Block Party IPA
Untitled Art Berried Weiss
Funk Factory Geuzeria Soured Wheatly
Octopi 1Barreled Cucumber Kolsch
Next Door Luminous Hazy IPA