*This is the fifty-sixth post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
740 N Plankinton Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53203
(414) 276-3030
Visit date: 05/14/16

Quick Hits:
1) How many different beers?
10 on tap.

2) How long operational?
1997 in Milwaukee, 1991 corporate (Denver).

3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Nearby cultural and natural attractions.

4) Distribution?
Growlers to go.

5) What sets you apart?
“The best patio in the city.” Made from scratch beer.

6) How did you get your name?
Named after the first location on the bottom of an insurance company’s building.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. All photos by Joe Powell.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. All photos by Joe Powell.

As a chain restaurant/brewpub, how do you avoid being stigmatized as the “McDonald’s of breweries”? If you’re Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, you brew all your own beer recipes on site in one of the most prime real estate locations in Milwaukee. (Kudos to a fellow UW-Madison Mechanical Engineering alum being the head brewmaster, too.)

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During our Saturday evening visit, the large indoor dining space was jam-packed (who knew it was Prom night?). Unfortunately it was a bit chilly so we couldn’t sit at one of the best patios in the city. Directly on the Milwaukee River Walk, this is the place to be for happy hour during warmer months.

Every summer night this patio will be overrun with happy beer drinkers.

Every summer night this patio will be overrun with happy beer drinkers.

Despite the focus on the outside space, the interior was not overlooked. Rock Bottom obviously put in a lot of effort to tailor the historic warehouse space to feel cool and collected: we took in the beer-themed decorative accents while also taking in the beer itself.

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Mad Hatter Kolsch
Buttery & nutty. Reminds me of Cracker Jacks.

Heartland Wheat Hefeweizen
Heavy on the clove; like a Double Hefe.

Racoon Red Ale
Oak-y with a crisp hop finish.

Hop Bomb IPA
Sure, it’s got bitterness, but the floral notes linger longer.

Goat Toppler Maibock
Strong tasting but light; a bold take on the classic style.

Schwarz Hacker Dark Lager
A lot of roasted chestnut flavor in a very light-drinking package.

Naughty Scot Scotch Ale
Heavier on the Scotch taste than the burn. “Very Scotch-y.” – Katie.

They cask-condition in-house, too.

They cask-condition in-house, too.

Though we didn’t indulge this night, I can attest to the quality of their pub food. Rock Bottom also features a wood-fired pizza oven.

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In Brew City, many other home-grown microbreweries get the nod from locals and visitors alike. But twice while at Rock Bottom we heard a patron ask for a Bud Light, and our bartender responded (nicely), “We’re a microbrewery, here is our list of house-made beers.” Though you may find Rock Bottoms in other cities too, the beer you have on this particular river-side patio is as local as the Bronze Fonz statue across the water.

Gotta love a knock on Budweiser.

Gotta love a knock on Budweiser.