Ever since Polish and German immigrants settled along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shore in the early 1800s, Milwaukee has been a city soaked in beer. Locals brew it, celebrate with it, mourn with it, and occasionally drink it during midmorning work breaks. Thanks to several new efforts to immerse tourists in the longstanding local hops culture, the Brew City is becoming the ultimate destination for hard-drinking history buffs.
Best Brews, Breweries, and Bars
The brand-new Historic Bar Tour, put on by established local company Milwaukee Food & City Tours, takes visitors on a three-hour bus trip between different pre-Prohibition taverns that serve up local ale and Wisconsin’s official-unofficial state cocktail, the Brandy Old-Fashioned. Drinkers start at the Landmark 1850 Inn, Milwaukee’s oldest tavern, then move to Puddler’s Hall (established 1874), where early union leaders cried out for justice while polishing off their pints. Next up is a bit of gnoshing at the Historic White House Tavern, which stocks every variety of cured meat that has ever come out of Germany. The final stop is Holler House, which has the nation’s oldest bowling alley in its basement and female patrons’ bras dangling from every beam and light fixture. In typical Milwaukee style, the owner, an octogenarian named Marcy, still tends bar and cracks jokes that make sailors blush.