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Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011

On-Site Brewing

A look at local brew-pubs

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Brew-pubs have been opening in and around the Milwaukee area since the '80s, and it's easy to see why they're so reliably popular. They serve big portions of comfort food in an open, inviting environment, for about the same price as a cookie-cutter meal at a chain restaurant—and, of course, each one offers a unique selection of proprietary beers, all freshly brewed on-site, making these restaurants a destination for beer lovers and casual diners alike.

The Delafield Brewhaus

3832 Hillside Drive, Delafield

www.delafield-brewhaus.com

The beer selection at the Delafield Brewhaus caters to beer lovers with a restless palate. At any given time, the restaurant offers between seven and nine brews, updating its selection about twice a month. Four staples remain on tap year-round: Dock Light, Delafield Amber, Pewaukee Porter and Sommerzeit Hefe Weizen. The atmosphere here is busy and merry, and in addition to burgers and pub fare, the kitchen serves hearty entrees like steak, ribs and grilled pork brisket, as well as wood-fired pizzas.

Milwaukee Ale House

233 N. Water St., Milwaukee

1208 13th Ave., Grafton

ale-house.com


Milwaukee Ale House is one of the Third Ward's liveliest restaurants, with a bustling dining room that often hosts live music and a large patio on the dock of the Milwaukee River. The restaurant was the original home of the Milwaukee Brewing Co. (which now runs a second brewery in Walker's Point), and still serves the company's excellent microbrews, including Flaming Damsel, Louie's Demise, Pull Chain Pail Ale, Sheepshead Stout and Solomon Juneau Extra Pale Ale. The restaurant's Grafton location captures the feel of the Water Street location—both are multiple stories, and both are on the Milwaukee River—but offers a different menu that includes pot roast, pasta Bolognese and mussels and chorizo.

Riverside Brewery

255 S. Main St., West Bend

www.riversidebreweryandrestaurant.com

Main Street Amber Ale, Bee Home Soon Honey Ale, Dizzy Blonde Weiss, Bent River Berry Weiss and Feelin' Lucky Irish Stout are the five original brews always on tap at West Bend's Riverside Brewery and Restaurant, and they're joined by two rotating “brewmaster's choice” beers. For those who want to try them all, a $6.95 sampler offers 4-ounce glasses of all seven. Ribs, fish fries (on Wednesday and Friday nights) and beer-cheese soup are among the restaurant's most popular items.

Rock Bottom Brewery

740 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee

www.rockbottom.com/milwaukee

The only chain restaurant on this list, with more than two dozen locations around the country, Rock Bottom Brewery nonetheless captures the cozy feel of an independent, local brew-pub. The beer menu is large, with a rotating assortment of seasonal beers, but there's always a kölsch, a Belgian white ale, a red ale, an IPA and at least one dark stout or porter on tap. A large outdoor dining area on the RiverWalk makes great use of the restaurant's prime riverfront location.

St. Francis Brewery

3825 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., St. Francis

www.stfrancisbrewery.com

One of the newest additions to the Milwaukee-area brew-pub scene, and also the first in years to launch on the county's South Side, St. Francis opened in 2009 in a beautiful, modern building with large windows and a large patio. The brewery's five beers touch on traditional flavors: Golden Ale, Amber Ale, Nut Brown Ale, Oatmeal Stout and Weissbier. The large menu includes many pub staples, as well as surprises like jambalaya and bangers and mash. The place draws a crowd during its popular Friday fish fry and Sunday brunch.

Stonefly Brewery

735 E. Center St., Milwaukee

www.stoneflybrewery.com

This popular Riverwest brew-pub is also one of the neighborhood's busiest bars and live music venues. It caters to the neighborhood with more vegetarian options than the typical brew-pub (including a tofu Reuben and tofu wings), and the beers don't shy away from bold flavors. The Six Finger IPA is a hops-lover's delight. The Oatmeal Stout drinks like a meal, and the Simon Bagley Stout smells of mocha. Most popular is the Moustache Ride Pale Ale, which is rich with complex malt tones yet very drinkable.

Water Street Brewery

1101 N. Water St., Milwaukee

3191 Golf Road, Delafield

2615 Washington St., Grafton

www.waterstreetbrewery.com

This popular Downtown restaurant, which opened in 1987, spawned a sister restaurant in Delafield in 1999 and, most recently, a Grafton counterpart in 2010. All locations brew their beers on-site. The brews here tend toward bolder flavor profiles than those of most brew-pubs. With 200 pounds of fresh raspberries used in each batch, the Raspberry Weiss is refreshingly tart, and there's a distinct smack of Wisconsin clover honey in the Honey Lager Light. The caramel undertones in the Water Street Amber are aggressive, yet the beer finishes clean.