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Milwaukee Tours: Beer, Distilled Spirits, and Food

I've been on brewery tours a plenty, but I've never laughed my way through one until I visited Milwaukee. Nor did I ever sip my way through distilled spirits that made me appreciate the fine art of making alcohol. As for food, your taste buds are in for a treat with the food tours, and markets of Milwaukee.

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Lakefront Brewery Beer Tour

Perhaps the only brewery tour like it in the country, Lakefront Brewery, a locally owned micro-brewery, offers standup comedy with lots of beer. Our tour guide was Josh and he rocked (and rolled), but I'm told all the guides are inventively funny.

The premise is simple based on the belief that people go on beer tours to drink beer and have a good time. So, they start the tour off with a 6oz "tasting" and then pause halfway through for another one. I'm sure I learned stuff about beer, brewing, bungs and more, but I do have a very clear memory that we all had to sing the Laverne & Shirley theme song.

Each tour guide -- they have a fancy title, but I don't remember that either -- has their own comedy routine incorporating some facts and trivia about beer-brewing. What I do remember is the beer -- handmade in the Milwaukee tradition of the early brewers. Lakefront Brewery has been brewery beer since 1987 and they boast "sold exclusively to taverns within rolling distance." Four 6-oz pours and a souvenir glass - $7. What a deal!

Visit the Great Lakes Distillery

I don't usually sip straight spirits, but then, I never tasted anything as smooth and delicious as their vodka, gin, whiskey and more created at this small-batch distillery. And a kinda cool fact is that Great Lakes Distillery is Wisconsin's first distillery since prohibition.

A standout is their Rehorst Citrus & Honey Vodka flavored with real fresh lemons and pure Wisconsin honey. It smells lovely and tastes smooth with a hint of honey and lemon. Their Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Gin is an olfactory pleasure - distilled with nine different botanicals including basil, coriander, lemon. It smells yummy and tasted just as good as its aroma.

I always thought of myself more as a rum drinker, and their rum was as fine as I've ever had. In fact, not since I drank my way through the rums of Puerto Rico have I sampled anything as smooth and delicious as Roaring Dan's Rum, macerated with pure Wisconsin maple syrup and then distilled once more. The name?was the only man ever charged with piracy on the Great Lakes. Don't know whether he's honored for being brave, or foolhardy, but his namesake rum was delicious, and definitely a sipping

Great Lakes Distillery also makes Absinthe, a highly herbal flavored spirit that was wildly popular in the mid-1800s when it was judged to be toxic and the cause of insanity and death. Its reputation has been rehabilitated. Current thinking is that its former bad reputation was unjustified. And whatever deaths had been attributed to imbibing it came from contaminants or an adulterant rather than the wormwood itself. Or, perhaps other drugs that were taken along with drinking absinth. Absinthe is derived from "grand wormwood" and other medicinal and culinary herbs. But it always contains wormwood, anise, and fennel. It has an incredible aroma and is very smooth but you definitely need to like anise to enjoy it.

. Tour and tasting with a flight of six products to try costs $10. All that drinking and revelry will make a tourist hungry. The answer is a food tour. Not just any food tour, a Milwaukee Food Tours food tour.

Milwaukee Food Tours

It really is a cornucopia of food delights. Milwaukee Food Tours offers not only variety, but innovative themes.

We sampled artisan cheeses paired with local brews, nibbled on famous sausages, as well as sampled the city's favorite sausages prepared in fabulous new ways. Visited delicious restaurants -- Food tours may become my favorite way to explore a city. Speaking of food, here's a One-Stop-Shopping Food Tour

Milwaukee Public Market in the Historic Third Ward

Milwaukee Public Market is putting a fresh new twist on the area's longstanding marketplace tradition and has created a great place to have a quick lunch or explore the Milwaukee's food scene in miniature.

Bring back a breads and a pastry (or two or three). Find fresh spices, blends, and generally lots of seasonings to hearten and inspire any cook. There are currently 17 separate local vendors including already prepared and made-to-order dishes.

Milwaukee Trolley Loop

It's not really a tour, but it's more than just a form of transportation. Each summer VisitMilwaukee offers the Milwaukee Trolley Loop to connect downtown, farmers markets, concerts, shopping, museums and more. It will certainly take you near every place you want to go... conveniently.

Food, beer, distilled spirits - there's a lot to love, eat, and drink in Cream City (that particularly nickname comes for the color of the bricks produced in Milwaukee and used in many of its 19th-century buildings.) For more information go to VisitMilwaukee

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Neala McCarten

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Updated: October 29, 2016



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