Sprecher Brewing Co

***** (5 stars)

I didn’t know what to expect from a microbrewery tour, but Sprecher certainly exceeded my expectations on all counts.. It’s a lovely facility, with a staff that is obviously in love with what they do.

Entry and exit is through a fair-sized shop that sells beers, sodas and gift items. For the bargain sum of $5 you receive a tour of the productions facility, from mashing to bottling. Then, in the indoor beer garden, you are invited to taste as many of their sodas as you like, and four beers. There are about ten choices of each. The pours are generous, and you even get to keep the glass.

The company was started in 1984 with two beers, but the introduction of root beer a decade later hit big. We learned that their soda assortment actually outsells their beer, and that their root beer outsells all their other products combined.

Our favorite soda was the orange dream, and out favorite beer was one of their originals, the Black Bavarian. We bought some of each to take home.

This was a great way to spend a couple of hours, and I’m looking forward to returning.

Sprecher Brewing Co
701 W Glendale Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53209
(414) 964-7837


***** (5 stars)

Beautiful room, great food, fantastic wine list; what more could you want?

As you might expect from the name, the highlight here is wine. There are hundreds of offerings, and most of the markups are below typical restaurant pricing. We had a wonderful bottle of 2007 Nicholas Potel Chambolle-Musigny that was exactly the kind of earthy, complex Burgundy we were looking for.

The ratatouille appetizer (which I apparently had during its last day on the summer menu) was perfectly cooked and flavorful, and the tuna tartare was refreshing, although I thought it could have been a bit more flavorful. Crispy shrimp was indeed very crispy, and was served with a tasty blend of sauces that combined sweet with a bit of spice.

The halibut entree was perfectly cooked, and served atop deliciously rich fennel.

We finished with a 5-cheese assortment, and found several artisan cheeses that we loved.

Service was friendly and helpful, and our meal was relaxing and fun.

925 E. Wells St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 765-1166

Blue’s Egg

***** (5 stars)

If anyone had told me I would wait an hour in line to get breakfast I would have called them crazy, but boy was it worth it. This isn’t a tiny restaurant by any means, but it could be several times as large and would still be packed.

There are three dining areas: the front patio could be a bit hot in the sun; the front room which includes a counter, but is quite noisy; and the back room, which is quieter and more nicely decorated. We were pleased when we were seated in the back room.

Three items stood out:

The monkey bread is crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, and has a wonderfully complex cinnamon flavor. It didn’t need the whiskey dipping sauce.

The hashbrowns were wonderfully buttery and bursting with potato flavor, and crisp on top.

The Hoppel Poppel was an amazing mix of scrambled eggs, sausage, cherry-wood bacon, caramelized onions, shredded potatoes, spinach, all topped with hollandaise sauce. I had to stop myself from eating the whole thing, which was really enough for about four people!

Service was friendly and helpful.

I’m so glad I live far, far away from this place, or I’d be there every day!

Blue’s Egg
317 N 76th
Milwaukee, WI 53213
(414) 299-3180

Bristol Renaissance Faire


***** (5 stars)

Having grown up in Southern California in the 1970s, I thought I knew what a Renaissance Faire was: a collection of tents and small booths set up temporarily on sprawling farmland.

Bristol Renaissance Faire is something completely different, and closer to an entire theme park than a temporary attraction.

Scattered beneath giant shade trees, and wandering its was over gentle hills, through glens and at one point even across a pond, the fair is comprised of more than 100 permanent structures, each uniquely themed as a period building.

Many attendees wear costumes, and fantasy attire is almost as popular as period dress, however most people just wear regular clothes, so you don’t need to feel self-conscious if you don’t look like a fairy.

Handicrafts and food, in many cases themed to the era (not sure about the medieval french fries) make for a delightful day.

Note that lines to get into the parking area can be VERY long, so plan to arrive early in the day, especially if it’s hot.

This is definitely a must-visit annual attraction.

Bristol Renaissance Faire
12550 120th Ave
Kenosha, WI 53141
(847) 395-7773

Jelly Belly Candy Company

**** (4 stars)

On a drive back from Mars Cheese Castle (don’t ask) I happened to pass the Jelly Belly factory. Well, it’s not really a factory, just a warehouse and store. But at the store I made my sole purchase of the day: a carton of Belly Flops, defective jelly beans that sell for 25% of retail. I actually like them better than the regular ones, and they are certainly fresh. I think a lot of friends are going to be getting jelly beans next week!

Jelly Belly Candy Company
10100 Jelly Belly Ln
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
(262) 947-3800

Mars’ Cheese Castle

**** (4 stars)

We passed this place on a drive to Milwaukee, and although we didn’t stop, I felt compelled to return.

It was everything I expected, and more. Actually I was expecting nothing but a tacky tourist trap. But you can’t really call it a trap, since hundreds of fans return here, again and again. Why? Because of the sheer volume of “stuff” they have.

Yes, there are T-shirts and souvenirs. But really the place is about cheese, beer, gourmet foods and wine, not necessarily in that order. They also have  a ton of hot sauces.

The beer selection alone is vast. And there were many gourmet honeys, syrups, seasonings and biscuits I’d never seen before. Unfortunately the prices are pretty much at the level you’d expect, so I didn’t actually buy anything, but plenty of people were loading up.

The cheeses I tried were actually fairly bland and forgettable, but then I’m more of a European cheese person.

Mars’ Cheese Castle
2800 W Frontage Rd
Kenosha, WI 53144
(800) 655-6147

Screaming Tuna

*** (3 stars)

This is a great setting for a restaurant, where you can watch the endless parade of boats and the drawbridge going up and down. The service is fine, and there is an interesting menu and drink list.

The sushi itself is unremarkable, although on Sunday there are some good specials that make the pricing attractive. A lot of the rolls are extremely spicy, so if you like that, it’s a good place to get some real heat, especially in the wasabi and mustard based ones. But the reason to visit is the view.

Screaming Tuna
106 W Seeboth St
Milwaukee, WI 53204
(414) 763-1637