With this being the last post of the 2014 year I wanted to recap my travels of the year. Honestly I had a great year for traveling despite losing my job in April. I have a new job, but the pay and vacation time will be difficult to keep me on pace with what I am familiar with (and should I say comfortable with).
Wisconsin had been on my travel wish list for long time. Primarily because of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green. And Taliesin was for sure the highlight of my trip, which says a lot as Milwaukee is heavily sprinkled with great breweries. Don’t worry I got my brewery tours in too while I was there. Below is a recap of my trip to Milwaukee and Spring Green Wisconsin.
Want to hear something strange? I didn’t know Miller and Coors had combined forces and became one. Sure they’re still kicking out their own brews respectively… but get this – they merged back in 2008. Are you shocked? Because I still am. Most embarrassingly for me, it’s been 6 years and I consider myself somewhat up on the beer scene. Granted neither of these beers are ones that I rush to the store to buy, but seriously what the hell was I doing back in 2008 that I missed this? We’ll never know what I was doing, I wasn’t blogging then and my memory is somewhat bad… OK it’s not somewhat – it is one of the reasons I started blogging, so I could write down my adventures and then read them later in life.
Milwaukee is known for being a town with a rich history of beer with Pabst probably being one of the better known breweries to come out of Milwaukee. Although Pabst has been around since the late 1880’s, Pabst’s history actually started about 40 years earlier. In 1844 a German immigrant named Jacob Best Sr started the Best and Company Brewery with his four sons; Jacob Jr, Charles, Phillip and Lorenz. By 1850 Charles and Lorenz parted ways with the family business and created their own brewery, Plank Road Brewery (later bought by Miller Brewing). By 1853 Jacob Sr retired, leaving Phillip in charge. Phillip changed the name of the brewery to Phillip Best Brewing Company (although I am more fond of just Best Brewing, who wouldn’t want to drink the Best Beer?)
Probably one of the more interesting spots I saw while in Milwaukee was The Brewery Neighborhood. You can probably guess my appeal to the area. I arrived later in the evening and darkness had already saturated the area, limiting what I could see of my surroundings other than a neon sign that arched over the street with a comforting single word “PABST”.
There are no secrets about what kind of person Frank Lloyd Wright was. He was demanding, headstrong and always “Wright”. He was also well ahead of his time, innovative and an amazing architect. I consider myself a Wright fan, not to the point that I correct docents while on tours (and if you do this, please stop), but I have toured several of his structures, 21 if you are counting.
The thing about brewery tours is that sometimes people take themselves WAY to seriously. At Lakefront this is not the case. I walked into the large beer hall and found myself a spot at the bar. To familiarize myself with their beer I ordered a taster flight. Since I was indecisive about which beers I wanted to try the bartender picked them out for me. I could tell he was sizing me up as to what kind of beer he would choose for me. He poured a few beers and after I noticed the light colors of the beers that he was bringing back to me I announced “I like hoppy beer”. No need to beat around the bush, I wasn’t going to be happy if he brought me a bunch of blonde ales.
Typically while traveling I do not stay in the nicer hotels. I go for budget hotels because I am on a budget. I do afford myself slightly higher budget hotels as I travel mostly alone and no one wants to read about how a vanished one day in a sketchy hotel… right????
So I have been on countless brewery tours. I love brewery tours and visit them as much as I can while I travel. Even though I am a home brewer and I know the ins and outs of brewing I still love traipsing through someone’s brewery. You always learn something new.
I have however never been on a distillery tour until my visit to Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Most likely because there are not a lot of people distilling, just over 600 at the end of 2013. Craft breweries are popping up left and right and wine has been around since 6000 BC, so distilleries are somewhat like unicorns in the alcohol world!.