Adventures In Beerland

Thanks to a search on the Internet, hubby Bryan and I found a great place to stay in downtown Milwaukee on Friday night — County Clare Irish Pub and Inn. Located just a hop, skip and a jump from Lake Michigan, the main level of this establishment is a restaurant/pub, serving Irish specialties and Guinness on tap. We had lunch there on Friday before check-in time. Bryan said his Reuben was awesome; I had a roasted turkey sandwich, but with taste buds impaired by a cold, I really couldn’t taste it, although I’m sure it as scrumptious.

The rooms are located upstairs, somewhat like a B&B, although with more rooms. We had gotten in on the “Lucky Friday” special, which entitled us, for a pretty good price, not only to the room for the night, but also breakfast the next morning and two drinks in the pub. (The regular price is at least $50 more.) The room was lovely — albeit very green — with a queen-size bed and whirlpool tub.

The inn was also located within walking distance of our other major destination, Lakefront Brewery (imagine that!), which despite its name, is not located on the lake — it’s on the river. Lakefront is renowned for having the best brewery tour in Milwaukee, and it lived up to that reputation. We arrived a bit early for the 6 p.m. tour and managed to get in on a special 5:30 tour, conducted by Mark (we later found out he was the company’s VP of public relations), whose outrageous sense of humor kept us highly entertained throughout the tour. Although there isn’t a whole lot to behold in the Lakefront operation, the four free samples of beer, poured throughout the tour and Mark’s wit made it one of the best brewery tours we’ve experienced.

On Friday nights, the Palm Garden located adjacent to the brewery has a fish fry — a Milwaukee tradition, they are everywhere on Fridays — complete with a polka band. The huge hall was filled with people imbibing Lakefront brew and gobbling down fried fish to the strains of the “Beer Barrel Polka.” It was kind of a surreal experience — and by far the most interesting of the trip. Our dining companions — you sit at huge tables, family-style, with strangers — told us that just a few weeks prior, Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre World” had been there to film.

Bryan and I probably could have sat in the Palm Garden for hours, listening to the music and people watching, but there were still people waiting for a table, so we reluctantly took a cab back to County Clare. There, we had our two free pints and watched the Twins lose to the Yankees — a dissatisfying end to an otherwise wonderful evening.