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City Service Brewing

Darlington, WI


Cruisin Rating: B

Booze Rating: D

Exterior of City Service Brewing, including the outdoor patio

One of, if not the most unique spaces we have visited sits in downtown Darlington, WI. Housed in what was once an old gas station, think 1950s service shop, sits City Service Brewing. If anything, City Service is nothing but character from the moment we pulled up. A white brick facade, with a dominating, standalone tower signage across a small, street-facing patio. City Service, even on the outside, was full of charm. Whether it was a table fashioned from a stop sign, vintage gas pump, or even a mannequin all dressed up, this brewery was nothing short of one of those road-side attraction spots seen in the movies.

The interior also did not disappoint in terms of character as well. The back area, what was once the service shop, now serves as an antique mall, complete with records, signage, and old car parts. All of it was for sale, definitely something that we haven’t seen before. The front of the shop, where the beer is served and what would’ve once been an office or waiting area- reminds me very much of a Quaker Steak & Lube Restaurant. Race track green, white brick, and bold, primary colors with plenty of hanging signage and even a suspended motorcycle.

City Service appeared to be run by an older fellow who was nice enough once we found him. You see, he had been taking his ease on the patio with a beer in hand and the tasting room was entirely unmanned. Now, this is a little understandable as he sat near the window and why start a brewery if you can’t partake here and there, but entering a spot only to find it empty and wait on service isn’t the greatest impression and definitely doesn’t fit with the old-timey callback of a full service shop. We later would see the same issue with another group that walked in and almost walked out because they were not sure if City Service was even open. That point aside, he was friendly enough, if not at all talkative.

Beer flight of 6 samples

As for the beer:

Hotrod IPA (4.7% ABV) - Smells of sweet hops, almost like a marzen with hints of deep red fruit. This IPA had low carbonation and some faint citrus notes with hops hitting on the end. This was passable.

Road Trip (5.0% ABV - This sour ale smelled both of skunky marijuana and malic acid, even after a second pour. This beer was sour for sours sake and mostly devoid of other flavors including malt or hops. Pass on this one.

7-10 Blonde (4.5% ABV) - This blonde would have been pretty standard but it tasted pretty young which is usually a descriptor we use for wine, but this beer had sour notes almost as if it wasn’t conditioned at all, or maybe something happened during the brewing process. We also struggled picking up any significant scents as well other than faint, ambiguous notes. All we know is that it tastes quite watery. Skip this as well.

Piston Wheat (4.9% ABV) - This wheat beer smelled of malt and, oddly, olive oil. This beer had a sour taste at the front, and then ended with banana if you were paying attention to it. Again, we can only chalk up this sourness to something in the brewing process or in the conditioning process. We can’t recommend this as even an average wheat.

Backfire Mexican Lager (5.0%) - This Mexican Lager smelled of hot peppers and vanilla. It tasted of peppers but had a manageable amount of heat offset by the vanilla added. Medium carbonation, I think it was a little too on the nose with it’s flavors, but Hannah was a fan.

Busted Knuckles (6.2% aBV) - This was actually a Rasberry Seltzer that had high carbonation and smelled of artificial raspberry. Hannah chose not to finish this.

Brewing area of the brewery

You know, this brewery really had a theme and it was a vintage gas station and they really stuck with it as a coherent theme throughout the entire space. It did leave the space feeling a little “dirty” even though it wasn't. It was tough to shake the feeling of old rust and oil for some reason, but we saw no proof at all of uncleanliness in the tasting room. While the service wasn’t the best, we can’t really begrudge an owner for enjoying his own product on a beautiful day. We also need to mention just how CHEAP this place is. Nowhere else can you find a spot that has four-dollar craft pints which made drinks for three of us, the good Doctor included, very manageable. The catch, of course, being that they may not be the greatest of pints.

While we can say this was a really themed spot that was definitely memorable, we can’t recommend a trip out for just the beer.

See you at the next Cruisin stop.

To learn more about City Service Brewing please visit their website at: or on Facebook at: @CityServiceBrewing

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