Chilly sent me this link on Twitter. It was Draft Magazine’s list of the best beer bars in Milwaukee. Apparently they are listing the best bars for beer around the country and Milwaukee was rightfully included. But to an extent, it wasn’t.
I had a couple of problems with the list. First, they include two bars that don’t serve a variety of beer. They include them more for ambience than beer. I am sure the Counting Clare is a good place to quaff some Guinness and the Old German Beer Hall is nice if you want some Hofbrau, but I would not consider either to be a good beer bar.
To me a good beer bar has a variety of beers from around the country and world. They have what is in season on tap. The beer selection changes as the months go by. A good beer bar makes you feel sad that the Imperial Stout you thought rocked is all gone even though that sadness is soon gone because the IPA in your hands is fantastic.
To me, the best beer bar in the city is Romans Pub. It satisfies my guidelines. Sure it doesn’t hurt that it is close to my house so I can walk home if necessary. But the beer selection is great and it changes. With a menu online you can plan ahead as well.
But let’s take a look at their list. I have never been to the Counting Clare. It is that near downtown towards the east side location that I rarely wander into. I know people like the place but with the description given, I have my doubts. If it serves mainly Guinness that tells me it does not have a grand selection of beers. That is a strike against being a good beer bar.
Next is the Fat Abbey Biercafe. Never heard of the place, but it looks intriguing. With a beer garden and the mention of “drunk monks” I think I need to arrange a Friday gathering here after work. Plus they have a beer menu online, a plus in my book. Finally, I have an affinity for any place that likes to use the “bier” spelling.
Moving on, we have the Milwaukee Ale House. What? This must be a joke. Actually it may be because on the original list was a bar in Illinois located on Milwaukee Ave in Libertyville. I wonder if the guy writing the article actually came to Milwaukee and visited these bars. The Ale House is ok at best. The beer they make isn’t anything you cannot find down the road at Rock Bottom. They could do much better with their product.
The Old German Beer Hall should not be on this list. It serves Hofbrau and weird German liquors. I like Hofbrau but for a place to be a good beer bar it needs more variety. Drinking out of big liter steins is fun but I want more to choose from. But if I need to be there have a Dunkel ready for me please.
I will toss the last two together since 1) they are owned by the same people and 2) it seems to be a cop out from the writer of the article. The Palm Tavern and the Sugar Maple are right by my house. I had been in the Palm once at the end of a long drinking night. I recall it being small but don’t recall the supposed grand Belgian beer selection. I thought it was actually a whisky bar. I hear some of the beers are quite expensive too, but it is a place I will need to check out.
Some friends had mentioned the Sugar Maple just the other week. It sounds like a place I absolutely need to check out. A good variety of beers from the Midwest works for me. Plus with the neighborhood it is in, the crowd should be interesting. I may have to make my way there tomorrow to check it out and do an informal review.