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Eagle Park Brewing and Distilling

Milwaukee, WI

 

Crusin’ Rating: C-

Booze Rating: C-

 

Crusin' For Booze- Eagle Park Brewing and Distilling- Indoors

This week, the Thirsty Troll and I are hitting up Eagle Park Brewing and Distilling in Muskego, Wisconsin while Hannah attends a concert! Founded by Max & Jack Borgardt, Eagle Park has two locations. Eagle Park definitely has made a name for itself with solid beer choices and respect for their outputs. Getting its name from Eagle Trace and Deer Park Streets, Eagle Park was actually the first trendy craft brewery I stepped into in college, and subsequently what kicked off my decided strained relationship with IPAs. Putting that information aside for the review of course, I have long awaited a time to go back to Eagle Park with considerably more experience under my belt to do a review. The distilling portion was, of course, an added bonus!


On the outside, Eagle Park Brewing and Distillery is very close in feel and layout to Raised Grain Brewing Company in Waukesha, WI. So much so, in fact, that driving up gave me some serious déjà vu. What can be described as a business park strip mall with near windowless buildings at least 3 stories high gives way to the corner structure that is Eagle Park. With a long-shared parking lot with what is, I think, a stone supplier. Just past a Wal-Mart Parking lot, not unlike Raised Grain. Nothing really wrong with having your location in a business park - I’m just noting the parallels. For some reason though, the two of these locations feel decidedly out-of-place for where they are and the area is very-unbrewery-ish. That is, to put a place with food and and drink amidst no other restaurants, while maybe a great business decision, feels a little - alien?


Eagle Park has turned part of the parking lot, as we’ve seen with many spaces post Covid-19, to an outdoor patio space. With around a dozen picnic tables sporting sun umbrellas, and a few rusty iron fire pits and hanging lights, this patio was totally ready for a cloudy day that could stay warm or cool significantly as fall began to set in. Even with plenty of glass, I couldn’t shake off the business park vibe, although they really attempted.



Walking inside, you really understand just how big the building is. With a ceiling sitting at least 40 feet above you and concrete floors I finally nailed down the sort of feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had walked into a recreation of a high school cafeteria. The associated and conditioned dread built right in. Think of it - plain floors, plenty of lighting, an echoing din of conversation, a ceiling wildly high and walls mostly devoid of life and decor. Close your eyes and imagine where you used to eat lunch in high school. Add a bar with an impressive amount of taps and boom, you’ve pictured this taproom - they even have that exposed metal tube venting. I anxiously awaited a bell to ring to signal passing time before my next class and even caught myself wondering if the Crusin’ for Booze backpack would even fit in my locker.


Needless to say - spaces that remind me of high school are far from my favorite vibe. With the Thirsty Troll, in his typical punctual fashion, waiting patiently for me to be finished taking photos of the space already at the bar, hot wings order made, I snagged a flight and began to take note of the private space on the opposite side of the bar - the other side of a partial divider wall and and a lofted upstairs that was closed to the public.


There looked to be space for 16 at the bar and about 100 seats at a mixture of high and low tables throughout the taproom. With 30 beers on tap and 8 seltzers, we definitely had our work cut out for us in terms of tasting. While the Thirsty Troll decided to sip on a pint or two, I had to limit myself to a single flight which is only a small fraction of their offering. We also tried spirits and note - these are tastes, not shots as we are never trying to be unsafe!


Eagle Park does offer a menu complete with burgers, wings, and fish fry, N/A beer, soda, cocktails and wine. I personally was not in love with my fish and the Thirsty Troll was not overly impressed with his wings - something to eat with your beer, but certainly nothing to get excited about. Hannah wants me to note though, that the fish fry does feature rye bread which is very rare to find around Madison. Samples for your beer flight run you anywhere from $3-$5, full pours $5-10, and cocktails $8-11. Now $10 for a tap pint is steep but I will note that it was a single outlier out of 30 options.


I talked a little bit in our review of Doundrin’s Distilling how the Thirsty Troll is the everyman’s foil to more niche tastes. At one point I pointed out his penchant for dessert stouts to which he proudly declared:


“As long as it’s in a glass, I’ll drink it.”

A good reminder that even though he has preferences, he’s down to taste anything put in front of him and he’s not picky by any means which again, serves as an excellent counterpoint to Hannah and me.


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Eagle Park Brewing and Distilling- Beer Flight

While Thirsty Troll sipped on A French Toast Stout called “Booze for Breakfast” and lauded its thick mouthfeel I dove into my flight of three, yes, three come in a flight here which would have been the perfect amount if Hannah had been with to assist.


MC Hammerschlagen (5.9% ABV) - Appreciated naming puns aside, this festbier poured gold and featured an aroma of lightly toasted cracker. Tasting, I picked up predominantly corn flakes and the Thirsty Troll remarked that it tasted like Kix cereal - definite maltiness that was leaning sweet. While I missed out on any sort of herbal character I think this still falls within the confines of the style, if a little sweet for my taste. A friendly reminder that not every festbier is a Marzen (what we typically refer to as Oktoberfest beer).


Tiki Dave’s: Rum Runner (8.3% ABV) - A rum runner is a rum cocktail featuring pineapple, banana liqueur, blackberry liqueur, and grenadine. What I got out of this beer when smelling was pineapple, and a cherry-lime combo - and an artificial cherry-lime at that. There was pineapple when tasting and cherry limeade and some lime rind bitterness in there but definitely no blackberry or banana. Thirsty Troll described it as cherry-lime malibu mixed in pineapple juice. I will note that the description read rum flavoring and took that with some salt. This is a distillery that makes its own rum, surely you can put a tiki beer into some rum barrels during the process and not resort to rum flavoring. Right? Right, guys? - Guys?


Demon Haze IPA (7.0% ABV) - Coming part way back round the circle to my first IPA, this beer poured straw yellow and was extremely hazy with a thick white head. Smelling of pineapple that is just slightly underripe and then grapefruit and pine, this beer tasted of slightly green pineapple rind and pine needle with an understated hop presence that didn’t linger at all. In fact, I thought there was a little kick of acidity in the finish rather than any sort of hop characteristics. I’d, ironically, would have recommended this IPA to my early 20’s self and maybe my relationship with IPAs would be a bit healthier these days!


I also elected to sip on two small spirit samples:


Bourbon (44.0% ABV) - Appreciating a bourbon that is slightly over standard proof, I wanted to see how this offering held up against our recent foray to J. Henry & Sons, fully aware that this distillery does not specialize in bourbon and staying open-minded. Smelling boozey and of sweet corn and oakey, there was a little caramelized sugar in there when tasting, notes of corn, and then a fairly palate-blowing burn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware there’s going to be that burn when you start getting into higher proof spirits and I can definitely appreciate it, but we’ve tasted enough now to know that you can be eased into a warming sensation instead of dumped unceremoniously into a vat of ethanol.


Standard Gin (40.0% ABV) - This gin, unfortunately smelled hot before it came close to my nose with a touch of juniper in there. This gin had notes of almost fruity-juniper berries, even sugary at points in the swirling fresh-off-the-still like burn that left a tackiness in my mouth long after it was gone.


Maybe some of their other offerings in the spirit realm are fantastic - I’m always open to suggestions. For my money though, they are better off sticking to beer. Even as far as the beer goes, I’ve had stronger and more solid offerings around the state this year. Eagle Park has been around long enough that I think their other location (for a change of pace) warrants a second visit to see if I change anything about the review, and hopefully Hannah will be able to join. For my money though, the cafeteria vibe and beer were not worth the trip from Wauwatosa and although Eric said he’d try again, he wasn’t wild about anything other than his French Toast Stout - for reference he drove about 40 minutes to help me review.


This review is going to be subject to change, and with as many beer offerings that they have I’d like to revisit to get a better snapshot of the whole, but, for the time being, I would say Eagle Park is not going to be on my recommendation to drive to 30 minutes from Milwaukee.


Better luck next time! Keep on cruisin’, don’t stop boozin’.


To learn more about Eagle Park Brewing and Distilling please visit their website at: www.eagleparkbrewing.com or on Facebook: @EPbeer or on Instagram: @EagleParkBrewing



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