Case in point: My friend Abby. She hosted a totally laid-back but totally awesome birthday celebration at Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee on Saturday. The Lakefront Brewery is in a fantastic Cream-City brick building located on the banks of the Milwaukee River. The vibe inside is definitely fun, relaxed and everyone is encouraged to get nicely sauced on their deliciously brewed products. The brewery tours are informal, but informative and always infused with good laughs. Plus, I mean, you get to drink before, during AND after the tour, so you can't go wrong with that.
Another awesome thing about Lakefront? It houses Bernie Brewer's chalet! Bernie, the mascot of the Milwaukee Brewers, is famous for taking a dive down a slide whenever the Brewers hit a home run at home. Now, at Miller Park, he slides down a big, fancy slide into the Kalahari-sponsored "splash zone," but back when the Brewers played at County Stadium, he slid from a modest, wooden "chalet" into a fiberglass beer mug. When County Stadium closed 10 years ago, Lakefront Brewery asked to purchase the chalet, slide and beer mug with the intent of letting its patrons make the famous slide midway through a tour. Well, insurance issues kept that from happening, but the the chalet and beer mug is still proudly displayed in the brewery today.
I've been on the tour about six or seven times to date, but Eric has gone well over 10 times, I'm sure. He could easily lead a tour, himself. He's been on a tour with almost every Lakefront guide there is, and when he saw our guide for Saturday, his eyes lit up. "We got him!" He exclaimed.
"Him" was Curtsy. The handlebar-mustachioed comedian who won Eric over on a trip to the brewery during a bachelor party. I've heard Eric talk about "the best brewery guide ever" on a few occasions, and always hoped I'd get him to see what the fuss was about.
Eric was right - he was funny, personable and quick-witted. He had an answer for every question and was quick on the draw to deal out joke after joke. He happened to take quite a liking to my friend Abby, here, and even let her help hand out beers during the halfway point of the tour.
Cursty was quick to show off his impressive strength.
As was Eric...
At the end of the tour, the entire group is encouraged to participate in a rousing sing-a-long of the theme song to "Laverne & Shirley." Why? Because "Laverne & Shirley" was set in Milwaukee. And they worked at a brewery. And also, because at that point in the tour you're usually buzzed and ready to sing your lungs out. It is ALWAYS fun. Always.
After the brewery tour, we headed over to Milwaukee burger institution Sobelman's for a bite. Sobelman's is home to one of the best burgers I've ever tasted, and was even involved in a burger battle against Downtown Milwaukee's AJ Bombers on the Travel Channel's "Food Wars" show last fall. I've had both burgers and I'm a fan of both places. But I'm still standing by the Dise burger any day of the week....
Though Sobelman's comes close. Their bun is phenomenal, chewy and lightly buttered. The burger is juicy, thick, bursting with flavor and a hint of hotness from its jalepenos.
Notice above they proudly advertise their "Loser burger," which is the burger they developed for the "Food Wars" show, in which they lost to AJ Bombers' "Milwaukee Burger."
Aside from their burgers, Sobelman's also has one of the best Bloody Marys in the city - they even hire a kid whose job is strictly to make bloodies. This bloody is loaded with all the fixins: cheese, pearl onion, mushroom, shrimp, celery, asparagus, lemon, tomato, olive and pickle (though my pickle is always given away). It takes a while to slurp down, but it goes down oh so well.
Abby's birthday was my favorite kind of celebration - no frills, all fun. Spent at two of my favorite places imbibing in some of my favorite beverages and foods. Gone are the days were birthdays meant wearing heels and going to clubs with horrible music played way too loudly. And that is exactly the way I like it.