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Explorium Brewpub

Milwaukee, WI


Crusin' Rating: B-

Booze Rating: C-

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Blogger- The Explorium Brewpub

Oh boy! Yet another in our long line of brewpubs! We will have to see if Milwaukee brewpubs suffer from the same jack-of-all, master-of-none issue that those in Madison do. As a recent online comment put it “The Great Dane is the most expensive Applebees you’ll ever visit.” And you know, that really sums up how we feel about a lot of the brewpubs we’ve visited. That’s all a lot of these brewpubs are, pretty middling food with pretty middling beer. That small bias aside, we tried to keep an open mind bringing the Artist to try this native Milwaukee space. This brewpub has a location a second location in Greendale, WI but we visited the location right in the heart of the Third Ward in Milwaukee.

From the outside, the building, like so many other spots in the Third Ward, oozes history. With a full facade of old brick, plenty of metal, and even more wood used in the interior from the table tops, bar, ceiling, and wooden trellis that hangs over the double-sided bar. The bar is really the focal point of the space, and the space is actually quite cavernous. Photos don’t really do it justice. The bar has non-backed shelving, a wood trellis overhead, taps, and dozens of varieties of whiskey and tequila. Hannah noted that the brick is actually cream city brick that Milwaukee is known for, which I was unaware of before our visit [History on Cream City Brick]. With the historic industrial feel to the space and lots of dark wood I could see the space getting very dark, luckily, even on the cloud day we visited two garage doors were open that feature shelf tables and views of the outside.

Along with the bar, of course, comes a full cocktail menu to go along with a beer list and a full food menu. We opted to partake in some snacks that included a 1lb pretzel from Milwaukee Pretzel Co. that was delicious, some cheese curds, and the biggest order of truffle fries that I have ever seen. Pretzels from Milwaukee Pretzel Co. are common enough that it’s really a spots beer cheese and dips that make or break that particular appetizer and the mustard was standard and the beer cheese, while good, wasn’t leagues ahead of any other beer cheese we’ve tried. We were hungry at this point, so the food was appreciated, and yummy.

The flights here were a little odd in that you only got three beers. It was such an odd choice though, to only do three. The flight holders were simple, heavy little marble things quite different than most flight holders we have seen. While they do have a full bar, we opted to only try beer during this visit. We ordered one flight, plus one additional small sample to fill out our review roster.

**Side note: they do tequila flights, so Hannah will meet anyone at Explorium to try some tequila! We will also need a designated driver... any takers?

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Blogger- The Explorium Brewpub- Beer Flight

Hard Root Beer (5% ABV) - While probably not a beer in the classic sense, we see hard root beers so infrequently that we had to try this one. This root beer is made with real sugar and combined with their standard hard seltzer base. I got hints of caramel, sassafras, and vanilla when smelling it and other than standard root beer flavors this was noticeably creamier in mouthfeel. Just the right amount of sweetness, any sweeter and this would have tasted like a standard store-bought root beer. There were definite notes of caramel and toffee and just a slight hint of booze. We don’t have tons of experience with hard root beers, but if that’s what you’re in the market for, I’d venture to say it’s a really solid choice.

Sauvin Haze Session NEIPA (5.1% ABV) - This New England IPA was described as a Farmhouse IPA which sort of conflicts with the style of the beer. Think about the delicate spice and herbal notes that are present in what we think of as a Farmhouse ale. In contrast, when thinking of a New England IPA you think of heavy dry hops and intense tropical, fruit centric aroma. These two are in stark contrast and it leads me to believe that they just called it a Farmhouse without really thinking it through at all. This had high clarity (unlike an NEIPA), and was light gold in color. There were notes of strong resin on the nose along with peach and grapefruit. It tastes resinous and there were some herbal notes, but not the spiciness you look for in a Farmhouse. I thought this was pretty weak in the flavor department as did Hannah. They really took two beers types and combined them, missing the mark on both attempted types.

Mango Hefeweizen (5.2% ABV) - The beer I was most excited to try other than the root beer this cloudy Hefeweizen. It was deep orange in color with zero clarity. I got sickly sweet mango on the nose and the taste matched with notes of banana and a mango popsicle with plenty of sugar. If you’ve ever had that mango-banana juice at the grocery store, picture it as a beer. I will give credit for capturing the overripe mango sickly sweetness quite well but it’s not necessarily the flavor I was looking for. It, strangely enough, ended with the similar flavor of biting into a granny smith apple. Not sure what that was about. While it was drinkable, I would skip this one. Hopes dashed.

Key Lime Cheesecake Sour (5.8% ABV) - This Berliner Weiss (a specific type of wheat sour, to condense a long-winded explanation) was bright gold in color with low clarity. It smelled like key lime cheesecake filling and frosting – I don’t even know if they have frosting because I detest it as a desert so this review was all Hannah – and didn’t feature any of the graham cracker crust on the nose or taste. It actually isn’t the first Key Lime Pie-styled sour that we’ve tried ever or even this year, so there was a point of comparison. Hannah’s expertise picked out creamy notes of key lime sweetness and cream cheese when tasting, a little bit of tartness and plenty of that sweetness that belongs. While you might not be able to chug this one, she said it was a really solid entry in the desert beer playbook. If, like Oliphant Brewing (coming soon), it had managed to snag that graham cracker crust it would have been a winner.

In all, I think this ultimately falls into the the same place that other brewpubs fall into where one half, in this instance, the pub part, is solid. On the flip side of that though, the beer suffers. Our resident pretzel palate, Hannah, really enjoyed the pretzel, even if you don't think much can change space to space, after all, it's a pretzel. Hannah would tell you otherwise and it's the small details in the amount of salt in that pretzel, the temperature it's cooked at, and even the flavor in the dips. Both she and the Artist looked favorably on the truffle fries and cheese curds. Our waiter did not seem to enjoy having us there which did hurt the experience. I could easily see, and I'm sure the girls agree, that if you're doing the Third Ward Booze Tour that you could definitely stop here for a bite to eat after drinking, especially if you're trying to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Milwaukee Public Market. In sum, if you're doing the Third Ward tour, it's worth a stop in for snacks at the very least, and maybe even a tequila flight if you're feeling feisty!

To learn more about The Explorium Brewpub please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @ExploriumBrew or on Instagram: @ExploriumBrew

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