Thursday, June 23, 2011

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Lakefront Brewery

Now THIS is what a brewery tour should be like.

Lakefront Brewery is rather tough to find, as it is tucked under a bridge along the river north of downtown. Therefore, you should get good directions first. And then get there.

First off, upon paying for the tour each customer receives four tokens each good for a six-ounce glass of beer. What's more, you are encouraged to get one before the tour even starts. Everyone, therefore, is in a good mood right from the start.

The guide plays her role nicely, with plenty of funny lines along the way. Most play up the angle that Lakefront Brewery is the little guy. Miller and Budweiser lose more beer in spillage than Lakefront brews in a given time period. There is some explanation of the brewing process, which is welcome. The building used to pull streetcars around the city, but had been empty when it was taken over by the brewers.

Along the way, this exhibit is shown. When Bernie Brewer slid into a big beer stein after a homer in County Stadium, this was the target. The stein didn't make the move into Miller Park (can't imagine why), so it has found a home in the brewery.

The tour concludes with everyone singing the initial verses to the Laverne and Shirley theme song. Then visitors head out to the sidewalk outside the brewery, where more taps await them.

If that weren't enough for $7, tourists receive a coupon good for another beer at local restaurants if redeemed by 6 p.m. that day. They also can trade in their paper cup used during their visit for a pint glass. During our visit, we talked to a native who didn't bother with the tour any more -- he just liked to come down to the brewery and sip on his beers.

This all works well; it's great -- and tasty -- public relations. Why would you go anywhere else?

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