Lakefront started it all locally in 2012 with the bottle release of Black Friday Black IPA. The brewery has since switched the headliner beer to a barrel-aged imperial stout and Lakefront’s Black Friday has become the annual main event in Milwaukee’s beer scene. Diehard fans line up on Commerce Street in the wee hours of the morning to score bottles of whatever elixir Lakefront has brewed up.
Covid put the fun and frivolity on hold last year, but Black Friday (Nov. 26) is back. This year, draft beer will be flowing outside of the brewery, instead of in the Beer Hall, but the throngs of thirsty fans will be there as usual.
“All of our employees are very excited not only to work the Black Friday event again, but to see and talk to the people that come, and of course to sample this year’s Black Friday,” said Lakefront founder Russ Klisch. “We’ll be selling the packaged beer indoors, but will selling the draft beer to taste outside this year because of Covid.”
The doors open at 8 a.m. but the CurdWagon will open at 5:30 a.m. to offer sustenance to the hungry masses.
This year’s lineup is a well-balanced mixed bag.
- 2021 Black Friday Imperial Stout: Aged 10 months in bourbon barrels. Described as deep and rich, chocolate and vanilla, with bourbon warmth and American oak notes. 15.5% ABV. Fewer than 4,000 bottles available.
- 2021 Imperial Brown Ale: Made with Montmorency cherries and aged in Wollersheim Distillery bourbon barrels. 14.6% ABV. Fewer than 1,000 bottles available.
- 2021 Holiday Spice Ale: A festive ale brewed with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and orange peel and aged in brandy barrels. 13% ABV. Fewer than 1,000 bottles available.
“I was hoping that the Black Friday event would grow, but it exceeded my expectations for the size of the crowd that comes every year,” added Klisch. “I’m also amazed that this day has now become Milwaukee’s beer holiday and happy to play a part in creating it. I have one brewer text me every Black Friday telling me that this is their biggest day of the year, and thanking me for getting it going, which makes me happy.”
There’s certainly plenty to be happy about for beer fans on Black Friday, and the days around it. There’s a full slate of limited beer releases and craft beer events to choose from. Keep checking in with your favorite brewery because this list is being added to frequently.
Wednesday, Nov. 24
342 E. WARD ST.
The Beer: Barrel-Aged Blueberry Rain, a sour made with blueberry, maple syrup and cacao nibs and aged in Central Standard bourbon barrels.
Details: Presale is Wednesday starting at 9 a.m. and pickup is Wednesday only.
7481 WI-60 TRUNK, CEDARBURG & 6933 W. NORTH AVE.
The Beer: Sweater Weather Imperial Milk Stout, Blueberry Sweater Weather, English Toffee Sweater Weather and Mint Chocolate Sweater Weather.
Details: On tap and available to-go at noon. Look for Sweater Weather in liquor stores on Black Friday.
1505 WISCONSIN AVE., GRAFTON
The Beer: Fantasyland Milkshake IPA made with BRU-1 and Grüngeist hops.
Details: On tap and in to-go cans when Sahale opens at 5 p.m.
5519 W. NORTH AVE.
The Beer: Second Helping barrel-aged dark saison, Pie Curious apple pie fruited sour, Space Yachts NEIPA made with Galaxy, and Nelson Sauvin and Strata hops.
Details: Available on tap and to-go. If you’re ambitious, Vennture opens at 5 a.m.
Friday, Nov. 26
342 E. WARD ST.
The Beer: Plumpy Black oat cream ale brewed with blackberry, black cherry and milk sugar; and Hawaiian Drinking Chocolate, an imperial stout brewed with cacao nibs, toasted coconut, macadamia nuts and vanilla beans.
Details: Presale is Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 1840 Brewing is open from noon to 10 p.m. for pickup and other fun. Hawaiian Drinking Chocolate will also be available on tap on Wednesday.
1837 NORTH AVE., SHEBOYGAN
The Beer: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Tenebrous Russian Imperial Stout is making an appearance. Vintage beers will also be on sale, including 2019 Wolf – Double Barrel Imperial Stout, 2018 Veneration Quad and several Cuvee Blends dating back to 2017.
Details: Doors open at 11 a.m. and the good stuff is available first come, first served.
2970 N. BROOKFIELD RD.
The Beer: Cinco Granos five-grain Belgian tripel aged in a Chardonnay barrel, Night Out Bourbon Barrel-Aged Breakfast Stout, and barrel-aged Impossible Strong Ale, a whopper that comes in at a potent 19% ABV.
Details: Bottles of each are available to go when the doors open at 1 p.m.
909 E. LOCUST ST.
The Beer: Rescued brewing mistakes from brewer Tim Eichinger. Yup, that’s what’s on tap on F^%^%ed-Up Friday. On the menu are a sour red and sour stout, an imperial pils that weighs in at 11% ABV, and a couple of cellared kegs.
Details: Likely the most unique Black Friday event to choose from. Get there at noon to see what Tim is pouring.
1037 W. JUNEAU AVE.
The Beer: 2021 Black Gold barrel-aged stout, Toppling Waters barrel-aged stout, Double Barrel Stout aged in two separate bourbon barrels, and Birds of a Feather, a tiki inspired sour.
Details: To-go beer sales start at 10 a.m. in the beer garden next to Central Waters. The festive atmosphere will continue in the taproom afterward.
2200 W. MT. VERNON AVE.
The Beer: Crescendo Hazy DIPA made with Strata, Nectaron and Vic Secret hops.
Details: The doors open at 11 a.m. Crescendo will be available on tap and in four-packs.
823 E. HAMILTON ST. & S64 W15640 COMMERCE CENTER PKWY
The Beer: Plenty to choose from. Barrel-Aged Man Your Battle Stations Stout, Stave: Single Barrel Stout and Stir It Up imperial stout brewed with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. For those who don’t care for stouts there’s DDH Bowie’s Space Suit New England IPA and The Raspberry Vanilla Cheesecake Incident Berliner weisse, a collab with Mikerphone Brewing.
Details: Lots of beer is going on at Eagle Park. Get to either location at 11 a.m.
2020 S. ALLIS ST.
The Beer: Sustained Thought Coffee Stout and three new amazingly-named Rough Draught Series beers. Take It With A Grain of Alt is a German alt beer, Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Brown is an English brown ale, and Best Laid Plans of Weiss and Men is a dunkelweiss.
Details: Get there at 3 p.m. to try a few of these releases.
5300 S. 76TH ST. & 143 W. ST. PAUL AVE.
The Beer: Seven variants of Milwaukee County Stout are available to the pubic. Five were made thanks to local partners who supplied their own barrels. Wheated Whiskey Barrel-Aged Stout and Knob Creek Barrel-Aged Stout will be available at both Explorium Brewpub locations on Black Friday. Other options include stout aged in…a Four Roses barrel from Consumer Beverage (5313 S. 108th St.), an Eagle Rare barrel from Timer’s Beverage Center (3800 Northwestern Ave., Racine), a Great Lakes Distillery Dirty Helen barrel from Total Wine (8700 Sura Ln.), a 1792 barrel from Aman’s Beer and Wine (26210 W. Loomis Rd.) and a Knob Creek barrel from Jeff’s On Main (821 S. Main St., West Bend).
Details: Explorium Greendale opens bright and early at 6 a.m. followed by the Third Ward location at 8 a.m. Consumer Beverage, Timer’s and Total Wine all open at 9 a.m. with their variants. Aman’s opens at 10 a.m. and Jeff’s On Main won’t release their variant until Sunday at 9 a.m.
3807 S. PACKARD AVE.
The Beer: Mantaycore Stout made with cinnamon, hazelnut and coconut in a standard and oak-aged variant. Wendigo Apple Pie Stout on tap.
Details: Faklandia opens at 4 p.m. A limited amount of Mantaycore can be purchased to go, and Wendigo will be available on tap.
811 E. VIENNA AVE.
The Beer: Black Forest Imperial Stout, German Chocolate Imperial Stout, Italian Style Grape Ale and Imperial Pilsner.
Details: The beers will be on draft and sold to-go in 500mL bottles when Gathering Place opens at 2 p.m. Cool side note, each bottle includes a QR code you can scan to access a Spotify playlist that matches the personality of the beer.
2108 N. FARWELL AVE., 333 W. JUNEAU AVE. & 11200 W. BURLEIGH ST.
The Beer: Audacity Quad aged in rum and port barrels, Hidden Meanings DDH Double IPA and Mocha Shake Milkshake Stout.
Details: Public preorder is online from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Pickup is at the East Side taproom (2108 Farwell Ave.) beginning at 11 a.m. Each beer will also be available for regular purchase at the Wauwatosa and Deer District locations.
2018 E. NORTH AVE.
The Beer: Velvet Bulldozer Imperial Stout made with vanilla beans, cacao nibs and espresso; BBA Velvet Bulldozer aged in bourbon barrels; a BBA Velvet Bulldozer variant made with vanilla beans, cacao nibs and espresso; and L’Hiver Oak-Fermented Saison.
Details: Presales started on Nov. 18. And pickup begins at noon.
530 S. 2ND ST.
The Beer: Milwaukee Honey Barleywine and Wood Barrel-Aged Sarah Jane’s Maple Sticks Stout.
Details: Both beers can be preordered now and picked up on Black Friday.
1128 N. 9TH ST.
The Beer: Recombobulation Russian Imperial Stout that has been aged for more than one year in Elijah Craig bourbon barrels.
Details: Available in four packs to go.
20. MobCraft Beer
505 S. 5TH ST.
The Beer: Kringle Monster Imperial Stout made with kringles and 880 pounds of raspberries.
Details: The beer will be available on tap and in four-packs when MobCraft opens at noon.
2018 S. 1ST ST.
The Beer: Two variants of Blueprint Barleywine, aged in either rye or whiskey barrels.
Details: Preorder now. Pickup begins at 9 a.m. New Barons will be serving coffee too, which is nice.
1725 DOLPHIN DR., WAUKESHA
The Beer: The annual release of Santa’s Sack Christmas Ale is happening, as is the second iteration of Barrel-Aged Paradocs Red IPA.
Details: Bombers of Paradocs and four-packs of Santa’s Sack are available when the doors open at 11:30 a.m.
23. Sahale Ale Works
1505 WISCONSIN AVE., SUITE 170, GRAFTON
The Beer: Dastardly Oak, a barleywine aged in a Jesse James Tennessee Whiskey barrel.
Details: The beer is extremely limited on draft and in cans, so get there as close to 3 p.m. as you can.
24. Sprecher Brewing
701 W. GLENDALE AVE.
The Beer: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Black Bavarian.
Details: Head to the taproom from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to try one of Sprecher’s standout beers in barrel-aged form. It’ll be available in growlers if you’d like to bring some home.
1505 W. ST. PAUL AVE.
The Beer: The third and fourth variants in Third Space’s Deconstructed Dessert: German Chocolate Cake Series. The Vanilla and The Coconut are barrel-aged stouts that will likely be delicious. Third Space may also have some FIVE Anniversary Beer available.
Details: Preorder is up and running for the Deconstructed Dessert. Doors open at noon.
1024 S. 5TH ST.
The Beer: Deux Stappen Belgian Dark Strong Ale made with Cognac-infused oak will be on tap. Seven cellared 2019 special release beers will be available in 16-ounce cans.
Details: Deux Stappen goes on tap at 1 p.m. Preorders for the special release cans start at 9 a.m. with curbside pickup happening during the day.
231 E. BUFFALO ST.
The Beer: Swiss Mystic, a Mexican hot chocolate stout flavored with chiles, cinnamon, cacao nibs and vanilla.
Details: Available on tap and to-go starting at 9 a.m.
28. Discount Liquor
5031 W. OKLAHOMA AVE. & 919 N. BARSTOW ST., WAUKESHA
The Beer: All sorts of hard-to-find 2021 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout variants.
Details: Doors open at 9 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Customers can purchase two bottles of standard Bourbon County and one of the several variants Discount has. Several raffles (two on Friday and two on Saturday) give the winner the chance to purchase predetermined packages of BCBS. One of Saturday’s raffles gives four lucky winners (per store) the chance to purchase all seven BCBS variants available in Milwaukee.
29. The Drunk Uncle
1902 S. 68TH ST.
The Beer: Everything that the West Allis bar has on tap.
Details: It’s easily the most economical Black Friday event. From noon to 4 p.m. every tap beer is just 50 cents. The price jumps up to whopping one dollar after 4 p.m. All bets are off after that.
8930 W. NORTH AVE.
The Beer: Bourbon County variant bottles downstairs, and rare brews on tap upstairs in the Growler Gallery.
Details: Doors open at 8 a.m. Saturday, but it’s a good idea to be there well before that. Bourbon County allocations are still in the works and there might also be a rare whiskey or two available. The Growler Gallery will have timed tappings of some rarities, including some Bourbon County, all day.