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Oktoberfest Interviews: Milwaukee Brewing Co

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Friday, September 12, 2014

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
Have you spent your weekend mornings in pain thanks to the deceptive strength of O-Gii, the beer-tea combination from Milwaukee Brewing Co? If so, you have lead brewer Kurt Mayes to thank. “I feel like I should start a Facebook page for all the people who tell me that I ruined their life,” Kurt told us.
Lead brewer Kurt Mayes poses near brewing kettle
Kurt didn’t plan to become a brewer. He was a chef for 15 years, but after starting work in a brewpub, he made a career shift and never looked back. His culinary background, he told us, inspires him to add unexpected flavors to beer and look for a flavor-driven balance in the beer he brews. As lead brewer, he works under the brewmaster as the top guy out on the floor.
What makes a good beer? “Flavor. A beer should have flavor, and not taste like water.” Kurt doesn’t have a single favorite brew, but he’s currently enjoying sour beers, which gets their distinctive flavor from bacteria. Although this style of beer has been around for a long time, it’s enjoying a renaissance and gaining popularity among adventurous beer drinkers.
Where’s your favorite spot in Milwaukee to drink? “Here?” Due to his unpredictable schedule (he usually works from 6 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., but on the day we met with him, he was coming in at 3 p.m. and thought he might be there until 1 a.m.), Kurt told us he “just works and sleeps” and doesn’t go out much, but he does enjoy trying out beers with his fellow brewers or at family events.
What’s your favorite fall beer? Kurt created the recipe for “Sasquatch,” Milwaukee Brewing Co’s popular pumpkin beer out of a desire to create a pumpkin beer that he would like, combining pumpkin and sweet potato with malts and just a little of the famous pumpkin spice flavors to keep it from becoming a “spicebomb.” He prefers drinking Sasquatch with food – for sipping on its own, he’s a fan of Hoptoberfest, a take on the classic German-style lager that’s perfect for fall.
What’s your advice for novice beer drinkers? “Try things – don’t be afraid to taste stuff. Take a brewery tour.” People often have preconceived notions about what kind of beer they like, but you never know until you try. Brewery tours, Kurt points out, are a great way to get a look at what makes each beer what it is, in addition to having the opportunity to sample several different kinds. 
What’s your favorite part of your job? “I get to make beer. I get to do what I love to do. If you find a job you love, it doesn’t feel like work. I still enjoy coming in every day, even when I know I might be coming in to a headache.”


Milwaukee’s Dining Tipping Point

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

By Kyle Cherek
Host of Wisconsin Foodie

There is a time for every movement, conscious or not, when those in it unite in a way they had not before. They click. Ideas and enterprises come to the fore, and sometimes attention from the world works in tandem with the talent, condensing into a turning point. Replete with fanfare or regardless of it, it happens. Milwaukee's dining scene, its chefs, its menus and its national and local mentions are at such a point of coalescence and greatness. Malcolm Gladwell called it “the tipping point.” Brian Eno, the renowned music producer called it “Scene-ious.” A group of minds working in and around each other, percolating a great “scene” that we will all look back on in awe.

Justin Aprahamian

Justin Aprahamian's prestigious win of the James Beard Best Chef Midwest 2014 is part of the evidence. The second owner of Sanford, an iconic restaurant whose original chef won the award in 1996, Aprahamian had only taken possession of the business one and a half years prior to winning the award. In his early 30's, he could have coasted on the name and the late accolades, but his cooking talent was too engaging to sit idle and not be noticed on a national level. His win solidifies the multi-dimensionality and high level of cooking of Milwaukee's dining scene. However, he is just one of several Milwaukee chefs to get the nation's high culinary accolade nod or notice year after year.


At the edge of the same neighborhood as Sanford, another chef named Justin (Carlisle) has opened his own restaurant, Ardent, which in 2014 became the first Milwaukee restaurant  to be named a Beard Foundation semi-finalist for the nation's Best New Restaurant. This notice, just four months after opening, evinced a new era for what Milwaukee's food is all about.

Ardent regularly hosts “who's-who” guest chef dinners with cooking talent from around the country. The guest chefs, with restaurants of similar size to Ardent, forward their respective regions’ dining scenes. “I want us to represent nationally, not against what's down the street,” Carlisle says. This is pure self-possession, from a chef who is not content for the proverbial candle of Milwaukee's talent to be “kept under a bushel” one day more. 


Goodkind, the latest gem added to Milwaukee's palette of offerings, is confirmation of how the scene has arrived. Its ownership is comprised of five restaurant veterans, a true meeting of the minds in what Milwaukee has brought forth on its ascendant dining trajectory. All five came together to cook, serve and work in a place their hearts could love, and not just because it was their own.

Goodkind’s menu duo, Paul Zerkel and wife Lisa Kickpatrick, hail from Milwaukee but trained extensively in Portland, long known as a city of foodie-ism and exceptional dining. The couple returned to Milwaukee in 2006, and have now partnered with one of the best cocktail talents in the city, Katie Rose, and another husband and wife team, make up the gem that is Goodkind. They, and others of their ilk, will continue to codify and refine Milwaukee's restaurant prominence for the next generation.

These are just a few of the many examples of how Milwaukee's dining scene has arrived. It seems nearly every day, the city opening new establishments with verve, or welcoming cooking talent back from storied and established culinary cities to practice their craft in Milwaukee, because of the environment it offers. Eating in Milwaukee RIGHT NOW, will be one of those times we will look back on in a decade and say we were “lucky enough to have been there then” to take it all in.


For the love of…Tosa!

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September 5, 2014

By Michelle Haider
Convention Services Manager

There are a lot of things that I love – cheesecake, funny movies, John Stamos, red wine, road trips – I could go on forever, but the one that tops this list (other than of course my dear husband, family and friends – you get the point), is where I call home……Wauwatosa. 

When my husband and I decided that we needed more living space, a free parking spot, a quiet neighborhood, and heck, even a yard with a garden, we decided it was time to move out of our apartment on the East Side of Milwaukee. So after a long discussion, we made the decision to start looking for homes in the burbs. But which one? There are a lot of great suburbs of Milwaukee! 

Being the bike riders that we were (who wants to pay for parking in the city?) we rode our bikes out to Wauwatosa to check out a few houses. It was love at first sight – beautiful neighborhoods, old houses with large yards, a charming downtown village, pedestrians crossing at a stop walk because cars stopped for them, boutiques, restaurants, and again – I could go on forever. We knew during our first trip there, that this would be our new home. 

This gem of a city, a suburb of Milwaukee, really knows how to hold its own. With the up-and-coming restaurants, bars, and boutiques opening on North Avenue and the charming downtown village that is host to a farmers market every Saturday in the summer, you feel like you are walking out on to a movie set! How can you resist having a drink at the new beer garden at Hoyt Park or watching a concert at Hart Park? I know I can’t.

Milwaukee is known for its festivals and Tosa really knows how to throw a good one. Tosafest, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this weekend, showcases the historic village and community spirit with music, food, and family fun. Next weekend is the annual Chilin’ on the Ave, which celebrates East Tosa’s beautiful North Avenue with a nationally sanctioned chili competition, a Bloody Mary competition, music, yoga, shopping and great food vendors! If these events are happening just in the first two weekends of September, what else does Tosa have in store for the rest of the year? To find out, click here.  

If you’ve lived in Tosa for many years, or just coming to try a new restaurant (it should probably be Le Reve), I hope you fall in love with it, just like I have!


Oktoberfest Interviews: Lakefront Brewery

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Friday, September 05, 2014

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
What does it take to get one of Lakefront Brewery’s famous tours from the brewmaster himself? Apart from interviewing him for your website, he says, “I sometimes lead tours for industry groups, people who are looking for more technical information about the process than you’d get on the funny tour.”
Luther Paul has been at Lakefront Brewery for over 10 years. His passion for brewing started when he became a home brewer in college; he then started helping out a local brewery before joining the team at Lakefront. Going from home brewer to professional can have some challengers. “Recipes don’t always scale linearly,” Luther told us. The big kettles commercial brewers use produce a much more violent boil than a kettle on a home stove, changing what ingredients might need to be added to get your desired flavor.
As brewmaster, Luther oversees production at Lakefront and makes sure that ingredients have arrived and shifts are filled in addition to creating new recipes. He typically works 10 hours a day, Monday through Thursday, then wraps up whatever is leftover on Friday.
How does the design process work for a new beer? “We brew around 15 barrels of a recipe and see if we like it, then tweak as necessary. I’ve gotten pretty good at having an idea and knowing how to follow through on the first try.” Luther’s expertise comes in handy for reviewing recipes for Lakefront’s “My Turn” series. Any staff member at the brewery has the chance to brew their own beer – they make 100 barrels with no test batch and sell until its gone. So far there have been 10 special brews created by Lakefront staff.
Where’s your favorite spot in Milwaukee to drink? “I don’t have one regular place, but I like to make the rounds to beer bars. I like Burnhearts, Sugar Maple, Comet. There are also a lot of great craft breweries popping up, which is always nice to see.”
What’s your favorite seasonal bier? “Bockbier.” Luther is a fan of German beers, including Pilsner, though he doesn’t dislike dark beer. “That’s a tough question to ask a brewer,” he said when we asked whether he preferred light or dark. “And even if I don’t personally like the flavor of a beer, I can still appreciate it.”
What’s your advice for novice beer drinkers? “Start with what you like, then investigate similar styles. Be open-minded.” A lot of people, Luther told us, are nervous about dark beers but enjoy it once they give it a shot.
What’s your favorite part of your job? “Great people, great beer. It’s a growing brewery. I get to design new recipes and see what people are looking to drink.” 


Labor Day Weekend: the last hoorah

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August 27, 2014

By Cesar Gomez
Public Relations Intern

A couple on Milwaukee's lakefront

Summer 2014 sure has treated Milwaukee well.

Brew city celebrated the summer with many festivals, concerts, incredible food, and more than enough family and friends to keep us all in high spirits.

Fortunately, it isn’t over yet.

Let’s take advantage of this three-day weekend and close out the summer the right way: with good ol’ Milwaukee fun.

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Spend a day with the Milwaukee Rally, the Midwest’s largest free motorcycle rally. Taking place at various Harley-Davidson Dealers in Metro Milwaukee, swing by to celebrate hours of live entertainment, street parties, FREE concerts, tattoo contests and the largest Harley-Davidson Museum Bike Night of the year! Join the fun at the Harley-Davidson Museum, which will host several of the events all weekend long.

While you’re there be sure to catch the American Road exhibit, which closes September 2nd. Then, head over to the Art Museum for the Kandinsky exhibit. The series will also close Labor Day weekend.

Diners at Milwaukee Athletic Club

You can’t be caught wearing white after Labor Day according to some, so glam it up with your fanciest white attire on Friday’s Wear White Party presented by Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Milwaukee. Grab a few friends and enjoy drinks as you hit the dance floor. Afterwards, bring the party over to the Koss Lunar Music Series at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. This party doesn’t hold anything back - three bars, a sweet DJ, and a killer view of the city will get you up and moving.

End the weekend with a trip to Cedarburg for Maxwell Street Days. Browse through 800 vendors for a varied selection of antiques, fresh produce, flea market items and more! Don’t forget to close out summer with one last grill out. Round up the gang and enjoy some brats with a cold brew in hand.

Whatever the weekend brings your way, remember to sit back and relax amongst good company. After all, it is Labor Day. You’ve earned it.


Take a Walk (and Learn Something Too!)

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist

I’ve always heard that city dwellers don’t look up – the best way to spot a tourist is to see who’s gaping up at the sky. But after taking my very first tour of the city, I’d like to suggest that everyone spend some time checking out what’s going on over their heads…there’s a lot of cool stuff up there!

Historic Milwaukee offers a variety of walking tours throughout the week, with neighborhood-specific tours on weekends, specialty tours that occur once a year and even a skywalk tour that runs through the winter. I decided to take the “Downtown Thru the Eras” tour that’s offered every day to get a closer look at some downtown buildings. Since I work (and play) downtown, I drive or walk past historic buildings every day. Some of them I’m familiar with, but others are mysteries to me. I was excited by the opportunity to learn a little more about what’s around me.

The tour gathers in the Plankinton Arcade, the first-floor lobby of the Shops of Grand Avenue in front of the statue of John Plankinton – you don’t have to make a reservation beforehand, but booking online helps the tour guide know what to expect (you also are able to pay by a credit card there – guides can only accept cash or check in person). For a while, it looked like I might be the only attendee of my tour, but as nice as it would have been to get my own private tour of downtown, I was glad when two couples showed up to join us. They were all visiting from out of town, so I was the lone local on the tour!

We started off with some history on the Plankinton Arcade itself (did you know there was once a club in the basement with 60 pool tables?) then set off into the city. I don’t want to spoil too much of the tour, but let’s just say there were shout-outs to Gertie the duck, tales of the city’s founders and a look at some of the most gorgeous skylights you’d never suspect were hiding inside local ceilings. Our guide pointed out the flat roofs, rounded gables, intricate detailing and cuppolas that distinguish different architectural styles – see, I told you there was interesting stuff happening up there! The tour ends just in time to watch the wings of the Milwaukee Art Museum flap at noon. It would be the perfect time to go check out the museum or stop at Café Calatrava for lunch before heading back to your car or hotel.

I had a lot of fun on my tour (it didn’t hurt that the weather was stunning), and even as a local who’s pretty involved in Milwaukee I felt like I learned a lot. It’s always great to take a stroll downtown in lovely weather, and if you’re anything like me you’ll cherish having a new stable of fun historical “did you knows” to casually toss out to impress your friends and astonish your enemies (am I the only one who does this?). Whether you’re a visitor or a local, the Historic Milwaukee walking tours are a great opportunity to get to know the city better. Don’t forget to look up!


The American Road Exhibit Evokes Personal Vacation Memories

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Thursday, August 6, 2014

By Jill Hauck
Marketing Assistant

It’s time for a trip down memory lane, everyone! The Harley-Davidson Museum’s exhibit, The American Road, is a chance for you to take a road trip without leaving home and remember the good old days when the family packed up the car and headed out for its annual summer vacation.

The exhibit celebrates the rise of the road trip as an American ritual, starting in the 1930s when it became a popular vacation choice for many families.

My Dad, Bill Parrish, was a firm believer in mixing it up for our summer road trips. Over the course of my childhood, my family hit about 47 states. The trips were filled with games, songs and picnics at road side tables. I remember seeing all the billboards along the road in Arizona, which drew everyone into the tourist arena at Tombstone to witness the re-enactment of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral.

When I walked into The American Road exhibit, the memories all came back to me. It was like walking back in time to my childhood. There were cars that looked like the ones my father owned, license plates that resembled the ones we counted on our trips and giant billboards that I recognized from the open road.

Harley-Davidson’s brand is based on strong family values and the importance of America’s open roads. The American Road exhibit is a great reminder of the importance of family, making memories and always being up for an adventure.

The exhibit runs through Sept. 1 so be sure to check it out!


Guest Blogger Kyle Cherek Talks Milwaukee Food Scene

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By Kyle Cherek
Host of Wisconsin Foodie

There was a time, many decades ago, in Milwaukee's culinary history, when—much like America’s culinary reputation at-large—a comment about its depth and relevance would elicit a smirk. (Mind you, though the classics weren't always classics, Milwaukee did them well. It was a man from Milwaukee who invented the supper club; this unassuming city gave the world the fish fry as a Friday institution; and it “pioneered” beer pairings—wink, wink.) However, aside from a few high-style dining options, courtesy of its grand hotels and its strong German heritage, Milwaukee didn't paint too far outside the lines when it came to gastronomic variety, interest, or excellence.  

That all changed as the 1980s became the 1990s, when three nice Italian boys opened their eponymous restaurants. Sandy D' Amato (former chef/owner of Sanford) as well as Joe and Paul Bartolotta (brothers/owners of Ristorante Bartolotta) gave Milwaukee the spark which, in the course of a generation, has encouraged an inferno of creative cooking and transformed this city into an epicurean destination. 

Summer is one of my favorite times as a foodie to engage every corner of our city and its delicious fare—from elegant French to BBQ. The summer of 2014 heralded a “Best Chef: Midwest” James Beard Award-win by the current chef/owner of Sanford, Justin Aprahamian. To be lauded nationally, just as the summer season began, is simply more evidence of Milwaukee's ascendant dining scene. 

With the exception of Los Angeles and New York City, Milwaukee has opened more successful restaurants per capita during the recent economic downturn than any other city. The national press has become aware of our heat. It seems that every other week, friends from my favorite restaurants or bars tell me that the New York Times, Travel Channel, or Esquire has paid them visit and a compliment.  

Of course we have known just how good the eating is here for a long time. As good Midwesterners, I think we are apt not to brag much. My adage is that we don't wear our hearts on our sleeves, as other folks do; we just roll them up and go to work. And now the ‘other folks’ are noticing. 

With this kind of momentum, no doubt, the dining scene is only going to get better. There are more than a dozen interesting new restaurants slated to open in the next six months alone. Our neighborhoods are enlivened with great boutique chef/owner restaurants, and the fabric of our city is becoming ever more colorful. We are glad that the world at-large is catching on, but we are going to keep doing it here, for us, and make the rest of the world feel welcome when they come.


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