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Door County Brewing Company

Bailey's Harbor, Wisconsin


Crusin' Rating: C+

Booze Rating: C-


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Door County Brewing Company- Outside

This week we are checking out Door County Brewing Company (DCBC) in Bailey’s Harbor, Wisconsin - part of our Door County Series of reviews! Something a little unique about this spot is that it actually plays host to two breweries. Door County Brewing Company and Hacienda Beer Company. This review is going to focus on Door County Brewing Company specifically, since Hacienda has a taproom in Milwaukee that we will check out and review at a later date.

In truth, Hacienda is an offshoot of Door County Brewing and was created by the Door County Brewing founders to use the 7 barrel system that they started with to create experimental and contemporary brews. If you’re wondering where Door County Brewing Company makes most of its flagship beer for distribution, you might be surprised that they are made in Waunakee, WI at Octopi Brewing. We have seen experimental beers operating under a different name while we were doing our Northwoods Series, at Rhinelander Brewing Company, so it’s not entirely unheard of but can still be a little confusing!

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Door County Brewing Comany- Inside seating area

Door County Brewing Company calls a rustic-farm like building home. The building appears to be 100 years old but whether or not it actually is, I’d love to know. On this trip though, Hannah and I didn’t have time to delve into historical society details. With a front entrance

that is maybe 200 feet from the harbor itself, Hannah and I marveled over being able to see the water, as with many places in Door County, right out the front windows. Door County Brewery and Music Hall is an apt description. While outside there are fire pits, chairs, and along the side of the building is a beer garden, outdoor tap spot, and stage, inside is a simple affair.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Door County Brewing Comapany- Swag Area

To your left as you walk in is a decently-sized swag area that butts up against the slightly raised indoor stage. Hannah and I have been there more than once where a band is playing and that music reverberates off the walls and shockingly high ceilings. To your right there’s large and heavy-looking barn wood high tables and communal low tables. In all, we counted about 54 seats in the space. Against the back wall, opposite of the entrance, is a large bar with minimal seating and blackboards above it listing out the beers on tap. Despite being there fairly early on a Thursday afternoon with no music, Hannah and I noted there was still a decent crowd of fellow travelers like us. It really does remind us of a German beer hall - a large space with communal seating. There’s some board games available to play, and there’s food provides by DCBC eats, that is housed in a small dwelling right outside the brewery - I believe it used to house a little coffee shop but now serves as a permanent food-truck-like kitchen. There are some posters and a couple of deer heads that adorn the walls, but other than that there are not a lot of decorations. Rather, the varied colors of wall planks and brick keep the space from feeling empty.

There was no table service, all orders are made at the bar, and something I wasn’t wild about, you had to write down what beers you want directly on flight glasses. To me, a definite step down from just writing your beers on paper or the flight itself. I can’t imagine waiting in line for someone to struggle, as I did, writing legibly on a round glass. We snagged a flight of every beer DCBC had to offer (6 total) for $10.55 at 3 oz pours which puts these at a very affordable price point of approximately $1.75 each. A full beer will run you around $7 and a growler around $21. There are also six packs to go in the swag area if you’re traveling back home. But how is the beer?

Timber Chap (4.7% ABV) - This amber lager poured the color of dark wheat stalks and featured medium clarity. Hannah and I both struggled with the aroma here. Depending on the style of amber I was looking for caramel-ness and some graininess (International Amber) or maybe some maillard and breadiness (Czech). We really struggled to nail anything down other than some light grain and bread crust but those were very faint. I picked up some light floralness from the hops and toasted cracker when tasting, which has me leaning to International Amber. While I was deep in the weeds looking for a classification Hannah stated :

“This is the most beer beer we’ve tasted this trip.”

League Night Lager (4.2% ABV) - This one was champagne gold with brilliant clarity again with not much in the way of malt aroma, maybe slightly sweet, but that is usually the standard with an American Lager, not a fault. Again, relatively neutral here when tasting there was a little faint hop flavor, slightly herbal and fairly low hop bitterness. I wasn’t super excited about this one but if you want just a beer that’s sort of - just there. Just a beer, no frills and want it to be local. Then this is one for you.

Vacationland (6.3% ABV) - This Juicy IPA is yellowish-gold, and while cloudy, does sport medium clarity. A fairly tame aroma in which we both picked up orange and lemon, this beer tasted of sweet candied lemon and overripe orange. I definitely wanted this one to be more in your face with the juiciness but it was rounded out pleasantly with some earthy hop bitterness at the end.

Polka King (5.3% ABV) - This Porter, pouring chocolate brown and featuring a tan head had some slightly burnt malt on the nose along with some sweet coffee notes. That slightly burnt malt character carried over when tasting and gave a deep, roasty flavor without being harsh. I would definitely note a resiny quality of the hops that when combined with the up front gave the impression of drinking some baker's chocolate, which may or may not be a bad thing.

Silurian - (6.4% ABV) - This stout, dark brown with a chocolate milk-colored head, smelled slightly soapy to both of us but we should have been picking up almost coffee-cream or a little sweetness. So we weren’t really sure what to make of that. I don’t know if the hops were just a little off or not, but it wasn’t really that we were smelling hop oils or byproducts. It smelled detergent like, so maybe just a bit too vigorous cleaning of the glass. The flavor was there though. Mild roast, creamy, and grainy with little to no hop flavor. If this one had smelled a little better I think it would have been my favorite of the bunch.

You know, before we learned that DCBC was the flagship brewery and that Hacienda is their experimental offshoot Hannah aptly observed:

“This all feels very safe, like they are brewing for the masses and going pretty standard.”

Little did she know how on point she was. I think if you want to play it safe with your beers, while still getting beers in Door County, then DCBC is definitely an option. Personally, I wasn’t really “wowed” by the beers here, and not just because they were fairly standard offerings. Sometimes I like standard offerings. As far as standard offerings go, I thought there were some components that were missing and I felt like I could find an Oatmeal Stout, Amber, or Juicy IPA elsewhere that I would enjoy more. The brewery scene is getting competitive in Door County and while I have always wished to visit DCBC in the busy season to check out that beer garden, the beers are just serviceable. I’ve got high hopes for Hacienda, though! For now, I would suggest passing on this one if you are in Door County unless you’re really into the live music scene.

Until next time, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.

To learn more about Door County Brewing Company please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @DoorCountyBrewingCo or on Instagram: @DoorCountyBrewingCo

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