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Best of Milwaukee 2016 Winners: Milwaukee-Made Food and Beverage

Jan. 18, 2017
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Artisanal Cheese

FIRST PLACE:
Clock Shadow Creamery
138 W. Bruce St.
414-273-9711
clockshadowcreamery.com

Cheese made in the urban setting is the specialty of Clock Shadow Creamery. Perhaps you’ve tried their curds. The squeaky bits of goodness come in a variety of flavors, but they offer more than that. They stay true to the neighborhood with some of their cheeses. One such cheese is Menonita; they call it Mexican mozzarella. It’s rich, creamy and melts beautifully, but it’s also pleasantly pungent, like sharp cheddar. It comes plain or in flavors. They offer tours, make and sell their own cheese, and sell cheeses from all over Wisconsin. Milwaukee’s first creamery is worth a visit. (Lisa A. Kortebein)

RUNNERS-UP:
Landmark Creamery
Martha’s Pimento
Sartori Cheese

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Bacon

FIRST PLACE:
Nueske’s
1390 E. Grand Ave., Wittenberg
800-382-2266
nueskemeats.com

Bacon is good, but Applewood Smoked Nueske’s Bacon is better. Few things in life are more wonderful than a meal complemented with this crispy yet meaty treat. You’ll find many restaurants in town serving up Nueske’s, appearing locally on doughnuts, in Bloody Marys, next to all types of eggs and topping lots of burgers. The secret to Nueske’s pure deliciousness is how lean the bacon is and the 24-hour applewood smoking process which gives it that signature flavor. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP:
Kettle Range Meat Co.
Patrick Cudahy
Usinger’s

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Craft Beer

FIRST PLACE:
Lakefront Brewery
1872 N. Commerce St.
414-372-8800
lakefrontbrewery.com

Lakefront’s dining menu reflects their Wisconsin pride, using local foods like cheese curds from Clockshadow Creamery; sausages from Johnsonville, Usinger’s and Klement’s; as well as several dishes featuring their own beers. On Friday, diners flock in for a traditional Milwaukee fish fry with all of the fixings and a pint of delicious Lakefront beer. If you haven’t yet taken the Lakefront Brewery tour, do so immediately. For $10 you get four six-ounce samples, a free pint glass and a humorous, yet informative, tour. It’s a great way to sample several different craft brews at once. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP:
Enlightened Brewing Company
Good City Brewing
MKE Brewing Company

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Cupcakes

FIRST PLACE:
Classy Girl Cupcakes
825 N. Jefferson St.
414-270-1877
classygirlcupcakes.com

In 2009, attorney Erica Elia baked cupcakes for her own wedding. Several guests enjoyed them so much they immediately commissioned her for their own special days. Within a year, Classy Girl Cupcakes was founded and the rest is delicious Milwaukee history. Located adjacent to charming Cathedral Square, Classy Girl offers more than 25 cupcake flavors each day, including the best gluten-free flavors this celiac reviewer as found in town. Given its origins, it’s not surprising Classy Girl also enjoys robust catering and special-order business, creating novel treats like emoji cupcakes, “pupcakes” for dogs, manly “grooms cakes” and much more. (Selena Milewski)

RUNNERS-UP:
Aggie’s Bakery & Cake Shop
Miss Cupcake Boutique Bakery
Slice Custom Cakes

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Distilled Spirits

FIRST PLACE:
Great Lakes Distillery
616 W. Virginia St.
414-431-8683
greatlakesdistillery.com

Great Lakes became the first new liquor distillery to open in Wisconsin since Prohibition when Guy Rehorst founded the company in 2004. Rehorst had to quite literally cause the changing of a number of archaic state laws in order to build his business. Since then, Great Lakes Distillery has produced a long line of popular and award-winning products, made in the old-world style with an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. The guided tours of the distillery—which end at the bar for hosted tasting—have become nearly as popular. (Matthew J. Prigge)

RUNNERS-UP:
Central Standard Distillery
Great Northern Distilling
Twisted Path Distillery

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Frozen Pizza

FIRST PLACE:
Palermo’s Pizza
palermospizza.com

Sicilian immigrants Gaspare “Jack” and Zina Fallucca opened an Italian bakery on Milwaukee’s East Side in 1964. Five years later, they opened the Palermo Villa Restaurant—selling it a decade later when they began selling their own brand of frozen pizza. Today, Palermo’s Frozen Pizza is still owned and operated by members of the Fallucca family. It offers several kinds of pizza with many of the typical topping varieties: Primo Thin, P’Mos, pizzeria-style with a hand-tossed crust and Breakfast Pizza. Palermo’s pizzas can be found in most local grocery stores. (John Jahn)

RUNNERS-UP:
Cedar Teeth
Milwaukee Pizza Company
Screamin’ Sicilian

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Hard Cider

FIRST PLACE:
CiderBoys
2617 Water St., Stevens Point
715-344-9310
ciderboys.com

Founded in 2012, CiderBoys hard cider has spread from central Wisconsin to be distributed in some 32 states and counting. They offer both a traditional cider year round, as well as seasonal fruit-themed varieties like the new Blackberry Wild cider that was distributed this autumn and summer favorites like Pineapple Hula. Health-conscious consumers will be happy to note that none of CiderBoys’ products have sugar added to them and they are 100% gluten-free. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP:
Aeppeltreow
Island Orchard

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Sausage

FIRST PLACE:
Usinger’s
1030 N. Old World Third St.
414-276-9100
usinger.com

The story is now legend. Apprentice wurstmacher Fred Usinger departed Wehen, Germany, for Milwaukee in the late 1870s, arriving here with $400 in cash, sausage recipes and a lot of ambition. The Usinger family has been a cornerstone of Milwaukee ever since, serving some of the highest-quality sausage for more than 130 years now. Many of its 70 varieties of sausage are still made from recipes carried in Fred’s pocket, and even the store remains where it was originally. Yes, you can find Usinger’s products in your local grocery store today, but nothing beats a trip to that classic Old World Third Street home base. (John Jahn)

RUNNERS-UP:
Bunzel’s
Johnsonville
Kettle Range Meat Co.

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Soda

FIRST PLACE:
Sprecher
701 W. Glendale Ave.
414-964-2739
sprecherbrewery.com/soda

Sprecher’s much-celebrated root beer remains the very ideal of the form. Far from its syrupy, mass-produced counterparts, it’s rich and complicated, its sweetness taking a backseat to the flavors of real vanilla and real honey. That same quality standard carries through the brewery’s ever-expanding line of sodas, which has grown to include not only cream soda, orange dream and ginger ale, but also unusual colas and seasonal offerings like raspberry and blueberry sodas. (Evan Rytlewski)

RUNNERS-UP:
Black Bear
Dang!
Lakefront Brewery sodas

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Tea

FIRST PLACE:
Rishi Tea
185 S. 33rd Court
414-747-4001
rishi-tea.com

For nearly 20 years, Rishi Tea has been turning out a wide variety of specially blended, organic tea. From their humble beginnings in a tiny Third Ward space, hand-blending small batches of loose tea to their high-tech Menomonee Valley facility of today, Rishi has been an industry leader for North American tea producers. Locally, Rishi Teas are found in many cafes, restaurants and stores. Milwaukee transplants will be gratified to find the Rishi brand in Whole Foods and other retailers nationwide. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP:
Fava Tea
Urbal Tea

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