Waves creeping onto a sandy shoreline. The sun dipping into the glassy horizon. The sound of laughter and clinking bottles. These are the sort of recollections Big Bay Brewing wants to evoke with each sip of its frosty beers. The master brewers use natural ingredients, such as proprietary yeast and real sugar, while concocting the tasty pours that comprise their menu of small-batch seasonal ales and year-round staples.
Big Bay Brewing's tasting room and retail center also prompts visitors to recall memories of relaxing vacations with its teakwood tables, crackling fireplace, and confused tourists standing around with maps. Those enamored with the tasting room—described by Shepherd Express as decorated with boathouse adornments and daubed in aquatic blues—can rent out part or all of the space for holiday parties, fundraisers, and other gatherings.
Riverside dishes up a delectable menu of American favorites and handcrafted beverages against the backdrop of the Milwaukee River's placid flow. Feast on a fleet of specialty sandwiches, including a quartet of grilled paninis teeming with tasty portobello, prime rib, or tuscan chicken ($8.95–$10.95) and a saucy slew of barbecue baby back ribs lounging with fresh veggies on a grilled kaiser roll ($8.95). Carnivorous patrons can sink mouth swords into a lean petite sirloin filet ($15.95) or savor a cluster of skewered tequila-lime shrimp grilled in butter ($18.95). A crab and lobster ravioli bursting with crab mousse, drawn butter, and a charming bouquet of fresh herbs courts a shy blush alfredo bedecked in a ravishing parmesan crumble ($24.95).
The Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival ferments a tasty mix of food tastings, more than 100 craft beers, and envoys from 30 local breweries into an afternoon libation celebration. Craft brewers such as Milwaukee Alehouse, New Glarus Brewing Co., and Titletown Brewing Co. show off their sudsy wares for passersby threading throughthe bustling tents dotted throughout the Bayshore Town Center. Festivalgoers rub elbows with master brewers and chefs, imbibe new ales or old favorites, sample 20 different food and beer pairings, and try to guess which stein once belonged to John Quincy Adams. Membership to WIBL unlocks pilsner-powered discounts and VIP privileges, including brewery merchandise and admission to WIBL-sponsored events. A quarterly newsletter augments membership, detailing changing selections and discounts at pubs.
Downer Avenue Wine & Spirits' beverage buffs line their shelves with a legion of libations, helping customers cull the best selections for meals, gifts, and gatherings. Explore the vast selection of nearly 1,000 different wines ($4.99–$199.99)—with more than 200 bottles less than $10—in a trek more promising than an expedition for a mystical fount of gold merlot. The walk-in beer bunker boasts more than 200 frosty varieties of domestics, imports, and crafts, as well as a collection of microbrews from local hop houses, such as Sprecher and Lakefront ($4.99–$15.99/6). Sippers who enjoy their drinks on the rocks or in hollow stalactites can stock up on spirits from Downer Avenue's diverse batch of bottles, which includes Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Vodka and an assortment of single malt scotches ($22.99–$349.99).
Floor-to-ceiling wood panels frame School Yard Bar & Grill, an East Side hangout that doles out beer and burgers in equal measure. The menu features half-pound Wisconsin beef sandwiches named after prototypical high-school characters such as the Bully—cheddar, bacon, roasted-garlic mayo, and a fried egg—and the Principal, which is accompanied by swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, and a stern letter to your parents. Patrons can dig into these and other pub dishes, including wings, mozzarella sticks, and tacos, while drinking in views of overhead TVs and domestic drafts at the bar.
Located inside a brick-hewn building reminiscent of a grand castle, the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery recounts the history of the company’s former brewery, which dates back to 1844. Visitors tour Pabst’s corporate offices, take photos with a statue of Captain Frederick Pabst, and drink tall pints of the brewery’s concoctions. The gift shop stocks vintage Pabst memorabilia, including steins, shirts, and artwork. Best Place’s halls and courtyards can also be rented for banquets, weddings, and other events.