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 oenophiles at Grapes and Tastes perk up both amateur and experienced palates with an enormous assortment of more than 300 wines crafted from grape varietals from across the globe. Aspiring vino virtuosos can sample six selections during Grapes and Tastes’ Around the World with Wine Tasting event and discover a new favorite bottle to house cabernet-flavored miniature schooners. The tasting event showcases an extensive range of flavor profiles, appellations, price points, and adjectives such as oaky, in between sips, swirls, and fun-induced sneezing fits. Tastings are held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays from April 5 until May 26. (No tastings will be held on April 9 or May 14). Please see the Grapes and Tastes website for directions.
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.
With a background brewing beer, Jim Wirsching-Neuser was immediately interested when his wife suggested that they create a wine with which to toast at their wedding in 2001. More than a decade later, the two have refined their winemaking processes and recipes to create an impressive selection of varietals using juices from wine grapes produced around the globe. Inside their tasting room, guests sample pours from each of the house-made wines, a selection which may vary according to the season and the sommelier’s ability to juggle. The elixirs may include a faintly tart blueberry pinot noir, dry Tuscan chianti, and Johannesburg riesling, which bursts with fruity notes before breaking through into a smooth dryness.
The tastings at Ray's Wine & Spirits invite alcohol enthusiasts to sample the world's most exquisite beverages and rub elbows with the people who produce them. Wine aficionados can aficionadify their palates by tasting Concha Y Toro's legendary Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc and chatting with its creator, Enrique Tirado, during the Don Melchor tasting (Wednesday, September 8 at 6:30 p.m., $20/person). For brewsky buffs, the Sam Adams tasting (Tuesday, September 28 at 6:30 p.m., $15/person) with Brewmaster Andrew Lamont offers an in-depth look at the Boston brewery's Winter Lager, American Rye Ale, new Imperial White, and more. Justify sewing French flags onto the backs of British children’s jackets at the Tour of Burgundy tasting (Wednesday, September 29 at 6:30 p.m., $25/person), which will showcase the vino of Nicolas Potel and allow fermentation fanciers to inspect varieties including Volnay, Gevrey Chambertin, and the $129.99-a-bottle Grand Cru, Echezeaux. Regularly check Ray's schedule for a monthly listing of tempting tastings.