Milwaukee has a storied brewing history. In fact, at one point Milwaukee was considered the beer capital of the world. The city earned that honorific by playing host to three of the biggest names in beer: Frederick Miller, Joseph Schlitz, and Frederick Pabst. And for years, the industry revered Milwaukee as a beer producer whose liquid reached all corners of the country. Even though this is all old history, the modern days have led to some amazing craft breweries in Milwaukee.
Known as the “Cream City” (owing to the light yellow bricks that make up its oldest buildings), Milwaukee isn’t the craft beer capital of the U.S. today.
More established cities like Asheville, Denver, or even nearby Grand Rapids have dominated the traditional craft beer landscape while other cities like Portland, ME, New York, and Los Angeles have developed their beer around their culinary scenes.
Still, Milwaukee is seeing something of a craft beer resurgence with breweries excelling in new-school hazy IPAs and historically minded farmhouse ales.
Below we’ve rounded up nine of the best craft breweries in Milwaukee.
Hop Culture’s Best Craft Breweries in Milwaukee
Central Waters Brewing Company
1037 W Juneau Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233 | (414) 271-3174
Synonymous with standout imperial barrel-aged stouts, Central Waters is probably one of the buzzier brewers in Cream City.
Originally opened in Junction City, WI, in 1998, Central Waters moved to Amherst in 2006 and launched a Milwaukee taproom in 2021.
Known for its barrel-aged beers, Central Waters also has a strong core lineup with a blonde ale, red ale, porter, and more.
But when it comes to this brewery, you probably want to try something from the barrel room if you can. Such as the 5 Year Aged Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine or the Brewer’s Reserve Cassian Sunset, which we found available on the Milwaukee taproom menu.
Eagle Park Brewing Company
823 E Hamilton St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 | (414) 585-0123
Eagle Park has quickly risen to national prominence with its Instagram-worthy milkshake IPAs and fruited sours. While East Coast breweries may have been pioneers of these styles half a decade ago, Midwest breweries like Eagle Park are bringing the hype to the middle of the country.
Beyond the in-vogue beer styles, Eagle Park makes plenty of light lagers, maltier beers, and West Coast IPAs (for the purists).
One might want to turn their nose up at a brewery dabbling in hard seltzer and opaque IPAs, but it’s undeniable that Eagle Park has completely nailed everything they try. Plus, there’s a sense of playfulness to the brewery that is incredibly endearing.
Hacienda Beer Co.
2018 E North Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202 | (414) 296-7200
Another brewery worthy of national acclaim, Hacienda won us over with balanced yet flavorful hazy IPAs and restrained nuanced farmhouse ales. Although they produce their beer in Baileys Harbor, the spin-off of Door County Brewing Co. opened a gorgeous taproom in Milwaukee proper in 2019.
The stylish North Ave. location perfectly suits the beautiful art direction that has become synonymous with Hacienda. Like Eagle Park, Hacienda takes a light-hearted approach met by quality products. It Just Does Weird Things remains a favorite of ours, but we’re always delighted when trying something new.
1840 Brewing Company
342 E Ward St, Milwaukee, WI 53207 | (414) 236-4056
1840 Brewing Company confused us at first. We first tried their Peanut Butter and Jelly sour ale (which was exceptional, by the way). That beer screamed new-school hype machine, but the branding felt subtle and traditional. There was a palpable disconnect. But we soon realized that instead of being contradictory, 1840 demonstrated their reach. They could nail a big fruited sour and a small, delicate grisette. The brewery is truly magical, bridging the old with the new.
A throwback to traditional brewing in Milwaukee, 1840 Brewing Company references the year that commercial brewing first started in Wisconsin’s biggest city. And traditional certainly applies here.
Brewery Co-Founders Kyle and Stephanie Vetter started out making beer the old-fashioned way: by sourcing wort from local breweries before aging the unfermented beer in a variety of barrels. Today, they make everything in-house. And while there is still a big focus on barrel-aging, not all their beer ends up in barrels. As a result at 1840 Brewing Company, we find nuanced, complex creations across a wide variety of styles.
Now that you know what they’re capable of, we named 1840 to our list of “The 11 Best Breweries to Watch in 2022.”
Beerwise, we recommend you enter with an open mind. Enjoy one of their heavily hopped IPAs and their refreshing Helles lager. 1840’s ability to be creative and accessible while also producing traditional, almost simple beers is admirable and enviable. Their skill at operating at both ends easily makes them one of the best breweries in Milwaukee.
Third Space Brewing
1505 W St Paul Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233 | (414) 909-2337
An ode to the craft of beer, Third Space Brewing celebrates a physical space to enjoy beer and the beer itself.
Founded by friends Kevin Wright and Andy Gehl—both Milwaukee natives—Third Space produces beer across a variety of styles. Under the guidance of brewmaster Wright, Third Space offers five core beers, rotating specialty ones, and a series of seasonal options; every kind of beer drinker can find something at Third Space.
Although the brewery opened in 2016, last April Third Space celebrated a revamp of its brick-and-mortar, which included new custom tables, lighting, paint, TVs, and an incredible geometric mural. Not to mention the outdoor beer garden with space for eight folks to play yard games, gather around fire pits, and enjoy Milwaukee outdoors—preferably in the summertime.
Good City Brewing
2108 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202 | (414) 539-4343
333 W Juneau Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203 | (414) 539-4343
Good City Brewing sports two locations serving up delicious beer in stylish and understated cans. Plus, both locations offer mouth-watering food that pairs perfectly with whatever happens to be on tap.
In addition to making great beer, Good City commits to improving its home, hosting regular service initiatives throughout the city. Through volunteer work, charitable donations, and community organization, Good City aims to make its city great.
1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee, WI 53212 | (414) 372-8800
Pretty much synonymous with blue-collar craft beer in Milwaukee, Lakefront has been “crafting an honest day’s beer since 1987,” as the brewery likes to say.
Started by brothers and avid homebrewers Russ and Jim Klisch, Lakefront made a name for itself by building an incredible beer hall and by brewing just honest-to-goodness beers.
If Cheers had taken place at a brewery instead of a bar, we imagine Lakefront would be the perfect place.
505 S 5th St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 | (414) 488-2019
MobCraft started in 2011 running a fascinating crowdsourced recipe program, essentially letting drinkers decide what the brewery would brew next. Anyone could submit an idea and place a vote; MobCraft brewed the winning beer, packaged it, and made it available at the brewery. Now MobCraft complements its crowdsourced beer with flagships and seasonals, but the core of the brewery remains.
Plop down into one of the ’70s-looking upholstered chairs or couches, order a pizza and a pint, and enjoy some of the most democratic beer around.
Ope! Brewing Co.
6751 W National Ave, West Allis, WI 53214 | (414) 509-6700
You don’t need to say uffda at Ope! Things are simple here. Drink a beer; maybe play some volleyball; have a good time.
You’ll find a style for everyone at Ope! They commonly have a fruited sour, Italian pilsner, hazy, pale ale, kölsch, amber lager, and Belgian quad on the menu simultaneously.
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