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Rebillion Brewing USA

Cedarburg, WI


Crusin' Rating: C+

Booze Rating: D

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Rebillion Brewing USA- Outside

This week, I took a trip out to Cedarburg Wisconsin in the midst of the Wine and Harvest Festival to give some support to our friend, the Artist, and check out Rebellion Brewing Company, a spot that I had been once before and was pretty impressed by the overall vibe. However, I was not traveling alone as a new guest reviewer joined me with his first foray into the Crusin' For Booze cast, The Buffalo Prince - a moniker he picked for himself in the midst of sampling a few pints. This ever-cheerful fellow has been a long-time friend of mine since high school and although his forays out into the world are far between, he always does so with an infectious laugh and plenty of jokes to tell. This trip around, in the midst of what might be one of the brewery’s busiest days of the year, I saw the spot in a new light and with input from a different perspective.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Rebellion Brewing USA- Patio

First of all, when you think about a rebellion, some imagery may come to mind. Perhaps the scrappy rebels out to take on the Empire in Star Wars, or maybe the storming of the Bastille, or maybe something closer to home. With recently reading all about the clandestine operations of George Washington’s spy ring and knowing that Rebellion Brewing Company had an old glory feel to their logo, it’s tough not to get excited. When I first visited the brewery, located right along the rushing Cedar Creek, I knew someone chose this location for the exact same reasons I would. Just feet away from one of the dams along the creek, featuring low, metal tables on a brick patio and housed in the basement of what was built as a mill back in 1855. This brewery absolutely feels like you’re walking into the hideout of some Revolutionary War era rebels. A sign with that flag logo hangs outside that also fits right in with any tavern you would’ve come across in that time period. I was half expecting a speak-easy entrance or some sort of password required. Picture a big, old brick building with vines climbing up the side and the sound of rushing water coming from both inside and outside. There are plenty of people sitting at those tables with beer so you know you’re in the right place but the first time you walk in nothing can really prepare you for the entrance of the brewery that first time.

Walking in that first door, you find yourself on a walkway. To your right, water gushes forth out of some openings around a metal contraption that I correctly guess was the remnants of an old mill. The water roars and drowns out any noise coming from farther in. As the Buffalo Prince and I admired the history behind this old mill, we caught glimpses of the waiting crowd inside.

On my first trip, there were maybe six people total in the space that makes up Rebellion Brewing Company. This time, there were probably close to 75 in a space that can really only seat 30 or 35. Almost wall-to-wall people gave us the impression that maybe we wouldn’t get to do a review after all and perhaps I should have known something like that was coming. We squeezed through what seemed like more than one bachelorette party as the Buffalo Prince made jokes about hen houses and protecting himself from prowling cougars. We lucked out found a two-person high top as a young couple headed outside. Only having been twice, it was difficult to gauge what the normal crowd is but I ventured a guess that the bachelorette parties were tied to the wine and art festival and were not the norm. I opted to get four pints this time in order to minimize the ten minute wait times for bartenders that were already drowning in a cacophony of shot orders, beer demands, and wine requests.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Blogger- Rebellion Brewing USA- Inside

Rebellion, interestingly enough, seems to be more townie bar first and foremost over brewery. They do have a decent amount of brews on tap - at least twelve - but there was also a girl walking about in American flag shorts with a shot tray. One group of ladies was only partaking in wine and the few guys we saw were sporting Miller Light and Coors light. I heard a lady right in front of me order some sort of cocktail that was more than likely just Blue Curacao with a lemon in it in a plastic solo cup. The Buffalo Prince and I were the only individuals we saw sipping on beer made in-house. Definitely a strange departure from our usual craft breweries. We’ve seen plenty of brewpubs and some spots that serve wine and even some of the brewpubs with cocktail menus but we’ve definitely never seen a shot girl and definitely never that combined with standard domestic taps. As the Buffalo Prince and I talked about it, we could only surmise that since Cedarburg, from what we can tell, is a town so driven by tourism, that a craft brewery is a bit too niche to depend on in the long winter months. Perhaps, in order to draw in the local business, a bar was a tried and true way to go to cover the largest potential customer base. The cynic in me said that maybe they found their beer was not selling enough, so they leaned into other offerings to stay afloat. However it was really all guesswork as there was no way we were going to be able to have any meaningful conversations with anyone, or so we thought.

An astute observer, the Buffalo Prince pointed out a dedicated patriotic and military theme throughout the decor. The space is decidedly dark, as most basements are, with almost no light from outside reaching in. Rather, warm bulbs from rustic metal chandeliers give off a warmish yellow glow. Being the townie bar, additional light is found coming from the ever-shifting screens of electronic gambling machines, the neon glow from a pull-tab machine, and the incandescent light from what we were pretty certain was a cigarette machine straight out of the 50’s. I thought the addition of those machines was kind of a shame because the very brick that forms the walls oozes history. There’s an Old Glory flag adorning one wall and various other naval and military antiques that someone clearly painstakingly picked out to give that early-American, almost museum-like feel to the space. It’s such a shame that all of the other stuff was added, including large out-of-place TV’s to watch the game but, again, that may be to satisfy the local bar vibe that they also have going for them.

I tried three beers, and touched on some of the Oktoberfest that the Buffalo Prince sipped on. The beer was pretty affordable at $6 a pint or $2.50 for a 5 oz. pour. There is a $10 minimum for credit cards.

Rebellion Otton Von Weiss (4.2% ABV) - Billed specifically as a Weissbier the color of cloudy straw, this Weissbier did not start me off on a good foot. The beer had quite a bit of out-of-place sourness when smelling which had some hints of cereal malt (as opposed to bready or doughiness) which was a little off-putting. Not to judge it solely on smell alone, I ventured to try a little, going back for seconds and thirds throughout our tasting venture to see if it changed at all with time. It did not. That sourness was alive and well when tasting the beer and I tasted distinct notes of corn mash, almost like a whiskey with all of the woody and smoke goodness stripped away. The Buffalo Prince stated it tasted of sour peach. This was definitely the wrong beer to start with and I’d suggest skipping it.

Rebellion Coast Guard Cutter (4.5% ABV) - The naval theme coming through on the beer naming conventions is appreciated. I admit, I only have a passing familiarity with the California Common knowing that it’s a steam beer and it should be both bitter from hops, and have some toasted caramel notes. With that limited information in hand, this beer definitely did exhibit some sweet nuttiness when smelling. It also had that medium clarity copper color and tasting it almost had me believing it was a lighter version of a marzen. Think sweeter and a lot lighter on the malt factor. However, I did not really detect any bitterness. Both Buffalo Prince and I detected a metallic tang to this beer, as well as in the aftertaste, but if there was hop bitterness present, I could not distinct notes of it. I do not think this one quite hit all of the notes that this style should have exhibited but I’ve had worse beers.

Rebellion Liberty IPA (6.5% ABV) - This dark and rusty gold-colored IPA smelled of sour oranges. Upon tasting it, neither the Buffalo nor I could really pick up on any distinct hoppiness either. Usually it’s easy to spot an IPA from a mile away. There was a lackluster breeze of floral hop presence in the the finish and not much else to the flavor other than that of sourness. The Buffalo Prince, when tasting, said that he did detect a little bit of fruit but not enough for him to really narrow it down to a specific fruit. I suppose, if you are into IPAs that don’t taste like IPAs and rather taste closer to an unflavored kettle sour, this might be your beer.

*Special Review by the Buffalo Prince - Oktoberfest (6.0% ABV) - For this one, done entirely by our guest I asked him to throw out just a few descriptors on what he was smelling and tasting as he enjoyed a couple of pints. This is his first review, but I was impressed. Let us know what you think about his notes!

Oktoberfest smell: dark hazel, light toast, dead leaves

Oktoberfest taste: German Malt, Woodiness, Nutty

We struck up a conversation with a couple of guys next to us at one point, nice realtor or architect types by our guess, who are local. They said they knew the brewer and wished all the best for them and said we must know what we are talking about by how we said the tasting was going. I opined that the space was very unique and I could really feel the history here but I overall was not a fan of, nor impressed by the beer. They agreed, wishing the owner all of the best but saying that the beer has gone down hill and when it’s good, it can be so inconsistently with one beer being great but then borderline undrinkable the very next week. They also confirmed our assessment of making it a full bar to make it through the months when tourism isn’t booming.

Chances are you will wind up in Cedarburg if you’re into wine or crafts. The winery we will save for a different day, as we will with the fairly new distillery. It doesn’t make for a bad booze cruise honestly with all three within a few blocks of each other. The patio is excellent and there’s food within walking distance. It’s definitely one of the more unique spaces I’ve been in and I really wish that the beer quality matched. My assumptions about it being a secret hideout are still somewhat true, even if it’s been a bit too modernized inside for my taste. If you end up in Cedarburg, check it out, maybe even if you live 20 minutes from Milwaukee. Cedarburg is a neat town with some cool buildings and funky shops. Any farther than that, I would suggest not going there for just a visit to Revellion. I think I will leave you with a quote by one of the locals we spoke to.

“The best thing to drink at Rebellion is the bloody mary.” -The Locals

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

To learn more about Rebellion Brewing USA please visit their website at: or on Facebook: Rebellion Brewing or on Instagram: @RebellionBrewingUSA

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