Milwaukee’s Stein & Dine | A Peek into the City of Festivals
For much of the nation, I imagine Milwaukee brings to mind Schlitz, Miller, Milwaukee’s Best – all of the staple beers that glare menacingly from neon signs above shady bars. As a Madison, Wisconsin resident and Milwaukee skeptic, I’d like to descend from my high horse and paint a different picture of this vibrant lakeside city, fondly referred to as the City of Festivals, through a Festival of (what else?) Beer.
Milwaukee’s second annual Stein & Dine that took place at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds last weekend provided a robust sampling of the city. Thousands of residents poured in to sample from over 100 booths offering beer, beer cheese soup, beer ice cream, and other Wisconsin staples. The mascots of Milwaukee’s beloved Brewers showed up to replicate their standard 7th inning race inside the festival. Oh, and did I mention there was more than just Schlitz and Miller on tap?
From within the Wisconsin borders, Lakefront and Mobcraft were some of my favorites. Lakefront represents a strong, established industry of excellent beer streaming out of Milwaukee. My favorite of theirs remains the Fixed Gear, a bold and unapologetic American Pale Ale. Mobcraft juxtaposes Lakefront as they dive into their second year of business as an unpredictable player in the market who crowdsources their recipes. This month, John Q. Public requested carrot cake ale, and Mobcraft delivered Rabbit’s Bounty Double Brown Ale with flying orange colors.
Several breweries traveled a bit farther for the festival. Next door in Minnesota, Finnegan’s provides a unique contribution to the industry as the first brewery to donate 100% of their profits to charity. From a bit further west, Utah’s Epic Brewing has begun distributing in Wisconsin, and their Escape to Colorado IPA has happily invaded my drinking rotation (a Freudian nod to my Colorado roots?).
This festival stands alongside many other beer festivals rich with hoppy gems. Between these festivals, the world’s largest music festival, and the Lake Michigan beach festivities, Milwaukee has much more to offer than Kelso and Fonzie have led us to believe.