Good Brewing in the City of Beer
Bright flavors on tap at East Side brew pub
Milwaukee didn’t get the nickname Brew City for nothing, as anyone who’s gone through a tour at a brewery here could tell you. Miller staked its claim here six years before the Civil War began, and many other European immigrant brewers followed, making our city the capital for clean, crisp pilsners. Within the past couple decades, established Milwaukee breweries like Lakefront and Milwaukee Brewing Company have offered up dozens of styles between them, and each have dabbled in (quite good!) hop-forward beers like Lakefront IPA and Hop Happy, respectively. A new brewery, Good City Brewing (2108 N. Farwell Ave.), has joined our city’s ranks, and is elaborating on this trend.
Recently, thanks to breweries like Good City, Enlightened Brewing Company, Black Husky Brewing, Brenner Brewing Company, Third Space Brewing and Company Brewing, there’s been a shift in Milwaukee towards what Good City Brewing’s head brewer Andy Jones—a Lakefront and Goose Island alumnus—calls the “modern West Coast style,” which features not just the bittering notes that hops can offer, but also stone fruit, and herbal and piney notes that enhance and complicate the bouquet and taste of any brew.
Of the 10 or so beers on tap at Good City any given day—all brewed in-house—at least half of them will predominately feature hop notes that vary from beer to beer. Their pilsner, Good City Pils, has far more hop character than a pilsner from a macrobrewery like Budweiser or Miller, this due to the presence of German hops. It’s still very drinkable in the easy, pleasant way of the pilsner style, but features more intricacy than those macros. Their Motto Mosaic is an excellent single-hop pale ale featuring the au courant Mosaic hop: It offers up Mosaic’s bright, fruity characteristics and features some really nice tropical notes. As this is a new brewery, there are still some kinks to be worked out: Reward, their Double IPA which clocks in at 8.5% ABV, was a bit too malt-forward and boozy-hot for my palate, though some fellow patrons at Good City’s spacious bar vehemently disagreed.
For those of you who aren’t crazy about hoppy beers, Good City offers an excellent porter, Detail, which has some nice cocoa and coffee notes, and will certainly be a great brew to sip on as snow falls on Farwell. They also feature an Imperial Stout, Density, which hides its 10.8% ABV under a rich flavor profile. A Heaven Hill whiskey barrel-aged version will be available soon, and I’m excited to see how some time resting in those barrels changes the tone and taste of that beer.
Good City also offers a solid variety of upscale-ish bar food, with unique-to-American-brewery dishes like the veggie laksa ($13), a well-spiced Malaysian curry featuring a robust blend of sautéed vegetables and organic tofu atop a bed of egg noodles. Their mac and cheese ($13) makes use of their pilsner to give it a, well, beery flavor and a slightly soupy texture that takes a bit of getting used to but is ultimately satisfying and tasty. For an appetizer, make sure you grab the outstanding pickled vegetables ($4), featuring cauliflower, carrots, onions and green beans all pickled in house.