Three short years ago, a weekend with three Milwaukee breweries throwing block parties to celebrate anniversaries would have been extremely unlikely. But that’s exactly what’s happening on Saturday (Aug. 17), and the three breweries involved—MobCraft, Gathering Place Brewing and 1840 Brewing—couldn’t be more different.
Gathering Place Brewing Company owner Joe Yeado set up shop in Riverwest when he opened his brewery two years ago. He created an inviting taproom where the well-crafted brews are rooted in traditional styles (the Treffpunkt Kölsch is outstanding).
Brewer Kyle Vetter oak ages nearly everything that 1840 Brewing Company produces. It’s a slow process that creates amazing beer. This limited 1840’s hours of business in the early going, but now the taproom is open to the public every weekend with expanded hours on the near horizon.
MobCraft Beer is slightly unorthodox. The Madison transplant (MobCraft opened its Milwaukee taproom in July, 2016) crowdsources many of its beers—creating brews based on ideas and recipes from beer fans. MobCraft is slightly irreverent (co-founder Henry Schwartz definitely has a sense of humor), but they’ve earned due respect for developing a solid sour and wild ales program.
Having three local breweries celebrate anniversaries over the same weekend is a good indicator that the Milwaukee brewery scene is robust. The fact that they are three vastly different breweries in different parts of town, points to the fact that Milwaukee is maturing when it comes to the local brewing culture.
Celebrate these unique spots on Saturday. But get a ride. They’re all pouring some potent, limited brews that you’ll want to try.
Where: 811 E. Vienna Ave.
When: Noon to 10 p.m.
Reasons to go: The anniversary beer, Per Apsera Triple IPA, will be on tap and bottles are on sale at noon. A good triple IPA is always worth trying, and it’s just one of five rare brews being released in two-hour intervals at the block party. Also, Foxfire Food Truck will be there from 4 to 8 p.m.
Be sure to try: The Old Fashioned Wordsmith taps at 6 p.m. and it’s worth the trip to Riverwest. It’s a wheat wine infused with cherries and bitter orange peel, and yes, it’s noticeably reminiscent of Wisconsin’s favorite cocktail. The slightly bitter finish from the orange peel plays extremely well with the sweetness of wheat wine.
“There’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker in Milwaukee and we’re proud to be part of the brewing tradition in city with such a rich beer history,” said Yeado. “I appreciate how close and collaborative the Milwaukee brewing community is. There are talented people making amazing beer, which pushes you to raise your game to stand out. I think there are Milwaukee beers that are as good as anything you can find anywhere else in the US and it’s pretty awesome to be part of that.”
Where: 342 E. Ward St.
When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Reasons to go: The release of NINE, a stout aged in Heaven Hill barrels for nine months, happens when the party starts. Three other barrel-aged stouts will be pouring during the day too. Live music starts at 5 p.m. and food will be provided by Taqueria La Guacamaya and Maxie’s.
Be sure to try: SIX, a stout aged for six months in Heaven Hill barrels, is one of the special taps. The 11% ABV elixir is incredibly smooth, not too boozy, and has hints of sweetness and dark chocolate. Try it alongside a NINE and assess the difference. Here’s a spoiler, they’re both very good.
“Brew City is finally Brew City again and it feels great to be a part of that renaissance,” said Vetter. “The brewery growth Milwaukee has experienced is only possible because we have such a supportive beer drinking community. Without support from our thirsty customers none of us would be able to continue making beer.”
Where: 505 S. 5th St.
When: Noon to Midnight
Reasons to go: Because it might be the strangest block party of the year. Before the festivities being there’s yoga with puppies from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. The plan for the day includes a ring for Mondo Lucha wrestling, keg painting, knife juggling, live music and plenty of food. The weird beer list includes a brew made with the pungent durian fruit (Schwartz sourced frozen durians for the brewing process).
Be sure to try: The two anniversary beers being released in extremely limited bottles at noon. The Sixth Anniversary Imperial Stout – Whiskey was aged in Heaven Hill barrels for eight months and Central Standard whiskey barrels for six. The Sixth Anniversary Imperial Stout-Pumpkin in Heaven Hill barrels for eight months and Great Lakes Pumpkin Spirit barrels for six. Both have rich flavors of dark chocolate and molasses, and both are exceptional.
“It’s amazing, from how fast the industry has involved to the change is styles of beers people are into, to the number of awesome Wisconsin breweries cranking out great beer,” explained Schwartz. “I love all of the (local) breweries and their staffs that have helped each other grow and help the ecosystem exist.”