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Brewfinity Brewing Company

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

 

Crusin’ Rating: C-

Booze Rating: C-

 

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Brewfinity Brewing Coompany- Outdoor sign

En route to to Milwaukee, the Thirsty Badger and his friend, the Jersey Girl, elected to do a review with me in Oconomowoc. Having already tackled Steel Tank Brewing Company last year, this time we were headed straight to Brewfinity Brewing Company. Located in the increasingly classic business park, Brewfinity Brewing Company sported a humble facade that wasn’t immediately clear from the road, but, trusting Thirsty Badger’s directions, we swung around to the back side of a pole-barn like complex that housed a few businesses to see where all of the owners of the cars parked everywhere were hiding out.


This being Jersey Girl’s first review, we prepped her with the onerous task of being in charge of the vibe which worked out perfectly as her diet didn’t allow for a lot of imbibery anyway! Judging from the outside, I was a little perplexed. It’s always difficult to tell in these shed-like buildings how much space each business listed occupies inside and I was busy trying to reconcile the amount of cars parked with what the space was in my head. You see, I had pictured something quiet, if not humble, a small space with a friendly face behind the bar slinging up some beers to a handful of loyal locals. We’ve seen it before. What we got, though, was something quite different. Instead of a quiet little corner of a building, we found that Brewfinity was taking up well over half of the space under the roof and not one, but three beertenders were busy pouring beers from a full wall of taps. It was loud, with some sort of trivia/bake sale going on and while I had assumed there would be some die-hard beer fans inside (there may have been) - I did not expect families and large groups. Spread out amongst low tables with shared benches and a few high top tables, we actually weren’t sure if the three of us were going to find a seat. Luckily some beer trays were moved and three seats at the bar became available.



I got my bearings and did my level best to take pictures that Hannah would accept - she’s got some pretty strict lighting standards. There was a table with all sorts of baked goods, a staff member on a mic asking trivia questions that sounded like were based on the past beers served at the taproom, and various displays of swag, including some vacuum-sealed growlers (I’m still looking for a vacuum sealed crowler, if anyone knows where to find one!). A large shuffleboard was tough to miss near one wall and you could peak behind the bar through some windows to see the production space. Jersey Girl estimated about 50 people would fit in the space, including 12 at the bar. I had expected maybe space for half that, and I definitely did not expect 16 taps behind the bar. I noted that there were some TV’s on the walls playing some sports, along with various taxidermy displays, and various other decorations on the wall that seemed random. Jersey Girl summed up the decor:


“The decorations seem really thrown together, nothing really matches, sort of like a bar and a cabin decided to mix.” -Jersey Girl

While I wholeheartedly agree with the mishmash and lack of coherence with what the walls were decorated with, including log-cabin-ish wood right next to corrugated tin. I didn’t mention to Jersey Girl the absolute chaos of walking into an up north bar. Talk about cabin and bar mixing. The Thirsty Badger went on to clarify to her that a lot of townie bars in our state are that mix of drinking establishment and hunting cabin - the brief flash of horror and wonder that crossed her face was noticeable.



With 16 beers on tap, the Thirsty Badger and I were delighted to find that the flights came with six beers standard here. He and I each picked three we wanted to try, and with a little input from Jersey Girl, we put our heads together as I lectured and explained some of the finer points of beer tasting. The Thirsty Badger is a natural taster, and each time we bring him along, his palate gets a little more practiced.


Brewfinity features frozen pizzas, pretzels, and chips, N/A beers and a Gluten Free “Beer”. No cocktails though, unfortunately and since there’s food, no Barlow allowed!



80’s Love Child (5.9% ABV) - This East Coast IPA featured low clarity and was the color of burnished brass. Grapefruit forward, with notes of mango and general citrus on the nose. This beer featured an earthy sweetness then moved into moderately high hop presence that lingered just at the far bottom of your palate. I think this was a fairly understated IPA and by no means a flavor bomb.


Featherweiss (3.3% ABV) - This pale yellow beer was plenty cloudy, with none of us really picking up any banana, but there was definite clove, vanilla, and plenty of doughy malt that was hiding just a little bit of savory saltiness, not unlike steak sauce. Low banana character when tasting, and this beer starts off with some highly floured dough and then switches to a hop character that felt inappropriately high for the style. There was noticeable banana flavor in the finish. Was really looking for lower hop presence in this style.


Buzz White Beer (6% ABV) - A first for us, a White Stout, this beer featured high clarity and was the color of Tiger’s Eye gemstones. This beer smelled of raw coffee beans and was pungent enough to almost get into espresso territory. With the lightest mouthfeel of any stout I’ve ever had, this beer had a hit of that strong espresso when tasting but then the malt character gave it a mocha-like middle that finished well-attenuated.


Under the Oatfluence (6.8% ABV) - This Oatmeal Stout featured a chocolate-cream head and was almost totally black in color. This beer seemed to suck up the light in the room. To demonstrate, the Thirsty Badger held the flashflight of his phone directly to the glass and zero light passed through. The smell here was very subtle and a little difficult to pinpoint, there were notes of milk and coffee. This beer tasted of dark, bitter chocolate all the way through from start to finish and ended completely dry.


You’re Killing Me S’mores (6.5% ABV) - A choice based on a clever name of one of my favorite childhood movies, and the other part because the Thirsty Badger hadn’t had a dessert style stout in his tasting repertoire, this beer boasted a 2020 Silver Medal at the US Beer Open. A deep brown in color, unlike the last beer, some light does come through which reveals a reddish, almost bourbon-brown color. We all picked up distinct notes of marshmallow and I picked up caramelized coconut and hot cocoa powder fresh from the package. There was marshmallow and chocolate definitely present but I didn’t pick up any notes of cracker (cinnamon or honey depending on how you make your s’mores). I expected a more robust mouthfeel here and it’s a little bit of an odd choice turning a porter into a dessert beer. A porter, from my understanding, is usually bitter and somewhat hoppy. I guess they really leaned into the the frequent chocolate character of the style. We all agree that this dessert beer wasn’t overly sweet as some of these dessert beers turn out to be, but I’ve had a more convincing s’mores beer.


Jorge Jalapeno Lager (4.2%) - Even though I was thinking of ordering this beer, it was actually the Jersey Girl and Thirsty Badger that insisted we try a spicy beer to honor the fact that Hannah couldn’t join us for this review. This beer was honey gold and slightly cloudy, with medium clarity. Smelling of green jalapeno flesh and earthy, this beer was not unlike grabbing a pepper right from the garden and putting it directly to your nose. Upon tasting this beer, none of us detected any spiciness whatsoever. Now, I consider myself to be a spicy kind of guy (within reason, wings with 4 teaspoons of Habanero powder turn out to be my limit) - but the Thirsty Badger and Jersey Girl are definite towards the “not-spicy” loving end of the spectrum. They agreed that, as it smelled, this tasted like licking the outside of a jalapeno with all of the spice that entails. Fresh, vegetal, but not spicy. With that flavor aside, this beer had some standard Mexican lager qualities of a little bit of skunk and high carbonation.


What was interesting about this tasting was an interaction with the beertender, they overheard us commenting on the beer, smelling it, discussing and taking notes and thought to make some interesting comments. Now, we’ve had people come up to us frequently when they see us smelling beer and writing to ask what we are up to. We’re used to it and are always happy to discuss what we are doing! We don’t do it to draw attention to ourselves, but take in the whole experience of whatever we are tasting and take accurate notes. This beertender, perhaps at an ill-advised attempt at a joke, asked us what we were tasting and asked if we tasted star fruit - this was when we were on the 80’s Love Child, our first beer. I politely said I didn’t pick up any start fruit but we were finding some mango and citrus. He explained that when people ask what’s in a beer the beertenders frequently say “starfruit, since no one knows what star fruit tastes like.”


I don’t want to blow this out of proportion because again, it may have been an inside joke that we weren’t getting but I am not sure why, if a customer asked what flavor they are picking up would you intentionally make something up that’s not actually in the beer? It just seemed unnecessary to me and I was thankful that I had not inquired into any of the details of the beer. Happening to enjoy star fruit on its own, what happens when a customer comes back in and asks for “the beer with the star fruit”?


That aside, this same beertender overheard us discussing the lack of spice in the Jalapeno Lager and offered to make it spicier for us. While that was a nice suggestion, I got excited at the prospect of perhaps getting a sample of a second batch of beer or maybe some experimental habanero lager and we eagerly accepted the offer. What happened next was that the beer was poured from the tap and then from another spout extra jalapeno puree was added to the beer. Now, I was a little torn here and I struggle with this. Is it nice to have an increased spice on hand? Sure, that’s nice to be able to adjust the levels of the spice to suit different palates. But if you’re just adding in capsacin or jalapeno puree or flavoring, did you really brew a jalapeno beer? I’m going to say no, you didn’t really brew that spicy beer. You brewed a lager and then added spice after the fact. To me that’s not really a spicy lager and a little disingenuous. The Thirsty Badger and Jersey Girl, while not well versed in the brewing process - and I admit, I’m not an expert and have only dipped my toes into home-brewing - agreed that it seemed a little off to do that.


Those two experiences actually left us feeling a little put off by this brewery, the three of us. Nevertheless, I explained our typical vibe checklist, tasting list, and putting it all together into a grade and our two guest reviewers gave me the input for our summary of Brewfinity.


Jersey Girl - “You know, I would come here again if I lived within 20 minutes, maybe for a drink after work once in a while.”

Thirsty Badger - “Yeah I would not drive here from Madison, and if we were coming to Milwaukee I’d go to the place with ribs instead” (Delafield Brewhaus).

I think they summed up my thoughts. The beer here was okay, but even with frequent trips between Milwaukee and Madison, I would pick other spots to stop on the way or wait til arriving at one of those destinations. It was clearly a neighborhood friendly space, open to events, families, and was clearly busy, but that Jorge’s Jalepeno Lager wasn’t the only thing leaving a funny taste in my mouth after our visit.


Better luck next time. Until then, keep on cruisin’, don’t stop boozin’.


To learn more about Brewfinity please visit their website at: https://www.brewfinitybrewing.com/ or on Facebook: @Brewfinity or on Instagram: @Brewfinity

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