In some ways, Milwaukee is the spiritual home of the Beer & Whiskey Brothers. You see, our parents were born and raised there, and they love the place so much they retired there. Don and I have scores of cousins and aunts and uncles in those parts as well, and there’s something about the place that just feels like home. Perhaps it’s all the family there, or perhaps it’s that Milwaukee is one of America’s great beer cities.
While this greatness might be rooted in its macro-brewing tradition, what makes Milwaukee special is the love and acceptance of beer that this local industry has fostered for over 150 years. After all, the Germans that started brewing there in 1850 did so because they wanted to drink good beer, not because they were trying to get rich. You can get a beer just about anywhere in Milwaukee, and it’ll typically be served at the right temperature and in the right kind of glassware. These folks know their stuff.
This deeply ingrained love for the world’s greatest beverage has made Milwaukee fertile ground for craft beer lovers and craft brewers alike, none more prominent than the Lakefront Brewing Company, makers of the tasty Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale.
If you read the label (which I’m getting better at), you’ll notice that there’s no classification about what kind of beer this is, except that it’s an ale. That’s because the brewers don’t care what you call it, as long as you call it delicious. And it is a pretty tasty beer.
The pour is a rich brown with a glimmer of amber to it, and features a generous head that clings like crazy. I took a picture I was so impressed.
The nose is a hoppy delight, with crisp notes of pine and a sweet grassiness leading the way, with the scent of dates and a hint of alcohol lurking beneath. The first sip is a rummy delight, with the flavors of dried fruits coming on strong and blending with a smart hop profile that is both spicy and a little playful. It dances on the tongue – this is a beer brewed with confidence.
It’s probably best described as a hopped up barleywine, except when it comes to mouthfeel, which is lighter than a typical barleywine but satisfies nonetheless. Also, at 8% ABV, it’s a little less potent than some I’ve come across.
This is the kind of beer that you want to drink while brewing your own. It has an authentic flavor that would be complemented by having boiling malts nearby and the odor of hops on your hands.
This beer and the brewery that created it are great examples of the state of beer in Milwaukee today. While it’s Milwaukee’s macro-brew history that most people think of when they hear it’s name (well that and Laverne & Shirley), it’s transformed into a great place for craft beer lovers and should be on America’s list of great craft beer destinations. Milwaukee officially matters.