The Milwaukee Beer Society celebrates its fourth anniversary on Wednesday night at Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.). Apologies, but tickets to the event sold out well in advance. But that’s a good thing. Four years is definitely cause for celebration, especially considering the obstacles that the society had to overcome to get here.
The group actually began in the summer of 2008 as the Suds Club at The Bomb Shelter (an outstanding beer bar that once existed at 1517 S. 2nd Street) thanks to its owner, Greg Landig.
The amiable Landig played a huge role in Milwaukee’s early craft beer scene, but tragically passed away in March 2012 due to a heart condition. The Bomb Shelter closed shortly after Landig’s death and the Suds Club that he helped form was left without a home. The group traveled to different local bars for a while, but found momentum hard to sustain.
Enter, Best Place
“The idea to start a new club came while watching a Packers playoff game at Best Place with Steve Walter, now vice president of the Beer Society,” said society president Nick Gleason. “I told Steve this place would be the perfect spot for a beer club and he agreed. By the end of the game, I went up to Jim Haertel, the owner of Best Place, with this idea to have a weekly beer club meet there and he graciously let us gather in the space and start organizing, free of charge.”
The Milwaukee Beer Society’s first official meeting was a launch party for Epic Brewing at Stubby’s Gastrogrub and Beer Bar (2060 N. Humboldt Ave.) on January 15, 2014. It then moved its weekly Wednesday meetings to Best Place, a spot they’ve called home since. The timing for the Milwaukee Beer Society couldn’t have been better. The group has been firmly in place to ride the wave (and sample the byproducts) of Milwaukee’s craft beer boom.
Meetings Every Wednesday
Each meeting involves tasting and discussing a style of beer, beers from a specific brewery or a similar theme. Attendees vote on their favorite at the end of the night. On average, weekly meetings draw 45 or so people, although occasional off-site events at local breweries and tastings of rarities like sours and barrel-aged beers tend to bring in more people. The cost to attend each meeting is minimal (usually $10). New members are welcome and membership is an extremely reasonable one-time fee of $10.
“From the beginning, we have held true that the society be an affordable organized casual gathering to help enrich the area and build community through craft beer,” explained Gleason. “Any extra money collected has been put back into the group for things like taster glasses, tasting cards, rare beers, events and even donating to several charities around the area.”
Milwaukee Beer Society Stats
Years active: 4
Members: More than 680
Unique beers tasted: More than 2,100
Meetings: More than 200