A favorite of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Midwest in general, Lakefront Brewing was founded in 1987 along the Milwaukee River by two brothers - Jim and Russ Klisch. The Klisch brothers have somewhat of a history in the beer world; their grandfather worked for Schlitz and the Uihelin’s! Organic and sustainable beer-making is of central importance to Lakefront. After becoming the first certified organic brewery in 1996, the brothers went even further in 2005 to work with farmers to grow native grain and hops in Wisconsin. Lakefront released the first beer since Prohibition using 100% Wisconsin-grown hops and malt, and in 2012, isolated an airborne 'Wisconsin' yeast strain to make fully local beer.
In this week's 2 O'Clock Tasting, we tried nine of their offerings, both year-round and seasonal - from an appley Czech Style Pilsner and roasty Bavarian Dark Lager to the well-known gluten-free pilsner the brewery produces.
Read our tasting notes from the session and let us know what you think in the comment section!
Our Lakefront tasting started with the Klisch Pilsner, a traditional Czech Style Pilsner named after the brewery's founders - Russ and Jim Klisch. The beer was a clear and full of carbonation, and had a melted butter color with a firm white head. Notes of breadiness and apple sourness came through on the nose. The taste paralleled its aroma with the addition of some fresh cut grass - Klisch would be great for a warm afternoon picnic!
We were excited to try Lakefront's 100% gluten-free beer made by the Klisch brothers. New Grist is brewed from sorghum, rice, hops, water and yeast - no wheat needed. This gluten-free pilsner was described as the color of champagne, ginger ale, or white grape juice, and it poured a short white head. The aroma reminded us of sour apple, and it had a sweet apple cider flavor.
Named after the neighborhood in which Lakefront Brewing was founded, the Riverwest Stein Beer is an amber lager, clear and colored like orange blossom honey or polished copper, with an tan head. This lager filled our glasses with the aroma of malt sweetness and caramelized sugar (with a little grassiness) while tasting of sweet frothed honey.
Next on the list was a Lakefront seasonal - the Imperial Maibock Big Easy. The maibock poured a strawberry blonde color and had a bright white fluffy head. We noted boozy scents of apple brandy and mint, as well as flavors of bananas foster and hop bitterness.
The color of wild cherry cola, Eastside Dark is a Bavarian Dark Lager that has bright red and cherry hues. Eastside Dark's aroma was smoky with a bit of roastiness and hints of toasted marshmallow. The taste was sweet and roasty, and was described as similar to the scent of espresso.
Sporting a large eye on the label, IPA had a hazy effervescence and was the golden color of honey. Lakefront Brewing's IPA smelled like your classical India Pale Ale with fruity aromas of sweet grapefruit and pineapple as well as the bold notes of Citra hops. This IPA had a tart bitterness and fruity flavors, and was not very resinous.
An American Red Ale, Fixed Gear had lots of red hues in its amber/copper color and sported a short white head. Sweet apple pie and candied grapefruit really came through on the nose. The flavors reminded of us dulce de leche or caramelized crème brulee, followed by some bitterness.
Bridge Burner is Lakefront's Imperial Amber Ale, which poured the color of rich mahogany and maraschino cherries. The aroma reminded us of Thanksgivings past with the noticeable presence of caramelized sweet potatoes or blueberry pie. The taste was not too sweet, surprisingly, but rather a sour, bitter booziness.
The last beer in our tasting was Fuel Café, a coffee stout that poured dark brown and had transparent ruby hues. The scent was full of mildly-roasted coffee beans, mocha and hints of vanilla bean and sourness. We were surprised there was no lacto in the silky stout as the flavor had coffee milkiness and notes of mint and hazelnut.
We make all-grain beer brewing kits that make it easy to make beer at home. Whether it's your first batch or your hundredth.