*This is the thirty-second post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
1) How many different beers?
4 on tap, 6 total in portfolio
2) How long operational?
4 restaurants started in 2006 before brewing began
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Owners have a passion for good beer, specifically Belgians, and dining experiences
Only at restaurants for now; crowlers hopefully on the horizon
5) What sets you apart?
Feature traditional Belgian brews rare to the US
6) How did you get your name?
In honor of the Lowland countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg)
The Lowlands Group is a local restaurant mini-empire, currently comprised of classic pub Cafe Hollander (locations in Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, and Madison), German-themed dining at Cafe Bavaria in Tosa, world-wide tastes at Cafe Centraal in Bay View, and an upscale urban hangout at Cafe Benelux in the Third Ward. All of these are meant to be the “third place” in everyone’s lives, after home and work. If you’ve ever been to one of these restaurants, it should be obvious that, as our guide Dan Herwig pointed out, “beer is in (their) DNA.”
Each location has an impressive list of foreign beers to choose from, including (with the exception of Bavaria) their own Lowland Brewing concoctions. What you won’t find at any location, however, is a brew kettle.
“We’re brewing in collaboration, not contract, with partners in Belgium and the Wisconsin.” Due to a severely-outdated Wisconsin law, Lowlands is barred from brewing and serving their own beer at their restaurants. But Dan says this “allows us to focus on food and atmosphere, while we let the brewers brew.”
That doesn’t mean Lowlands is simply slapping their name on someone else’s beer: they’re active in the entire process, having handpicked and regularly visiting the three collaborating breweries here and in Belgium.
Tandem Dubbel (Brouwerij van Steenberge)
Sweet, slightly-smokey. Barely-there, nice alcohol taste.
Hollander IPA (Brouwerij de Musketeers)
Most popular; like a hopped-up Saison.
High Speed Wit (Brouwerij van Steenberge)
Cloves, banana; very refreshing and tasty. Used in their chasers.
Centraal Quadder (Central Waters)
Strong, warming. Makes you want to curl up by a fire.
Milwaukee has always been a beer city, but you can thank Lowlands for helping introduce the Belgian style to our local palates. Through their regular Bierklasse, they hope to “educate with baby steps.” As Dan said, “It’s all a product of our passion. We’re trying to create an experience you won’t have anywhere else.” The Lowlands Brewing Collaborative is not your standard Wisconsin brewery experience: they can’t take you on a tour of their brewing facility, but they can take you on a tour of Belgium through beer.