Bay View’s small breweries
was on the alcoholic heat. Tread lightly with this one.
District 14 also serves pizzas, which might be necessary to offset some of the higher alcohol brews.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
From District 14 we toddled over to the Lincoln Warehouse and the final two stops of the night.
Enlightened Brewing Company had the largest crowd when we visited, which says something given the brewery’s somewhat obscure industrial South First Street location. Its large garage-door front wall, opened to a relatively comfortable evening, provided a beacon of light and sound in the dark night.
Founder Tommy Vandervoort and chief of operations/brewmaster James Larson — who learned to brew at the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland — have put together a decent list of beer types that address most drinkers’ palates.
“Keep it simple” is the pair’s brewing philosophy. As is often the case, some were better — or perhaps simpler — than others.
We enjoyed Te Ipsum (6.5 percent ABV), an American pale ale made with Sorachi Ace and Centennial hops. The well-balanced beer has a nice mouthfeel and good hoppy flavors, with the Sorachi Ace adding citrus to the mix.
The other beers we tried were sturdy, but not impressive in their complexity or finish. Cream City Brix (5 percent ABV), a pre-Prohibition-style cream ale, was light but less well developed than expected.
“Can you taste the corn?” ny fellow pub crawler asked. Indeed, I could.
1840 BREWING CO.
DISTRICT 14 BREWERY & PUB
EAGLE PARK BREWING CO.
ENLIGHTENED BREWING CO.
The Prototypical Porter (5.4 percent ABV) although nicely flavored, was a little light in body and spirit. I had expected a little more heft and was disappointed when it wasn’t there.
I agreed with my friend that part of the problem may have been the intensely flavored beers we had sipped at 1840. We were then surprised when a handful of workers wearing 1840 Brewing’s black shirts came in after their own brewery had closed for the night, exhibiting what Stephanie Vetter described as the strong camaraderie found in the Bay View brewing community.
“Enlightened Brewing deserves a second chance,” I wrote in my notes for the evening, filing it away for future reference.
‘BUT WE’RE MUSICIANS FIRST’
One of the tag-alongs with the 1840 crew who did not sport a company shirt took strong exception to our assessment of Enlightened’s beers. He also had nothing good to say about the beers at Eagle Park Brewing Company, Enlightened’s neighbor located somewhere else in in the warehouse complex.
So strong was his condemnation, in fact, that we almost decided not to visit. In the end, we didn’t heed his advice and chose to listen to our inner beer nerds instead.
And even if we hadn’t liked the beers, which we did, the search alone would have been worth the effort.
To get to Eagle Park, you must go to the small entrance door just to the left of Enlightened’s open front and ring one of the two buzzers. The lower buzzers alerts the management at Dock 18 Cocktail Lab — a tiny “experimental” cocktail bar located just outside Twisted Path Distillery — and someone will let you in.
The other buzzer connects to Eagle Park on the second floor, and the same regimen applies. Dock 18 was bustling when we walked by on my way to the craft brewery, which we finally found halfway down a vast empty hallway.
In contrast to Dock 18, there were only two customers there when we arrived. We left almost an hour later, happy to have discovered something everyone else seems to be missing.
Run by brothers Max and Jack Borgardt and named after a hybrid of the New Berlin crossroads where they grew up, the brewery has been in business for just seven months. But the brothers, who also are musicians, had been brewing beer in their garage long before that, and their creativity and experience shows.
I like jazz, so when I saw a beer called You Like Jazz? (7 percent ABV) I knew the Belgian/American IPA was calling to me.
Made with a hybrid yeast strain and Citra hops, the beer poured almost like a New England-style IPA, but the Belgian half-yeast 342 E. Ward St., Milwaukee.
Check website for monthly beer release weekends. Dates change, but the hours are the same: VIP member tastings are 5–8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Sunday. Open public tastings are 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Saturday.
2273 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee.
414-744-0399 d14beer.com 3 p.m.–midnight Tuesday–Thursday, 3 p.m.–2 a.m. Friday, noon–2 a.m. Saturday, noon–midnight Sunday.
2018 S. First St., Milwaukee.
262-278-0679 eagleparkbrewing.com 4–10 p.m. Thursday, 3 p.m.–midnight Friday– Saturday, noon–5 p.m. Sunday.
2018 S. First St., No. 170, Milwaukee.
414-364-6225 enlightenedbeer.com 4–10 p.m. Wednesday, 4–11 p.m. Thursday, 3 p.m.–midnight Friday–Saturday, noon–5 p.m. Sunday. — M.M. brought out the beer’s fruity notes, which made for an eminently quaffable and totally delightful brew.
We also were drawn by Immortal Soul (8.2 percent ABV), which rotates in style based on the season, but always maintains the same malt bill, body weight, color and bitterness. Whichever season this was made us want to enjoy it all the more.
We finally worked our way up to Huey Lewis and the Booze (6.6 percent ABV), a variation on the brewery’s oatmeal brown ale that one of the brothers likened to cold-brewed coffee. In this case, the cold brew’s coffee beans had marinated in a bourbon barrel, which gave it a delightfully full and slightly boozy flavor.
We liked it so much the bartender gave us a preview taste of the next iteration of the beer, for which green unroasted coffee beans had marinated in a bourbon barrel, providing an even more unique and pleasing flavor.
“You guys do really fine and inventive work,” someone said. (It was late and I am not sure who made the statement.)
“Thanks, but we’re musicians first,” one of the brothers replied. “We’d like to win a Grammy, but I guess we’ll settle for making good beer.”
Mike Guten, Enlightened Brew Company’s head brewer, founder Tommy Vandervoort, and chief of operations James Larson.