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

Enlightened Brewing Company
2018 S 1st St
Milwaukee, WI 53207
(414) 704-4085
Visit date: 09/17/16

Quick Hits:
1) How many different beers?
2 on tap (6 usually), they’ve made 18-20 since starting.

2) How long operational?
Brewing since 2014, in new space & taproom since summer 2016.

3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Service industry veteran with hopes for his own business meets experienced brewer.

4) Distribution?
Local bars.

5) What sets you apart?
Attention to detail bred from starting tiny before consciously expanding.

6) How did you get your name?
Club of friends called themselves the “Enlightened Imbibers” and drank beer while discussing/arguing normally taboo topics.

Enlightened Brewing Company in Bay View, Milwaukee. All photos by Joe Powell.

Enlightened Brewing Company in Bay View, Milwaukee. All photos by Joe Powell.

In the far northwest corner of burgeoning Bay View, stands an unassuming but bustling warehouse; it’s located against the sleepy Kinnickinnic River and across the street from another (failed) brewery. Home to 100+ small business tenants, the Lincoln Warehouse ended up being the perfect spot for Tommy Vandervort and James Larson to start and eventually expand Enlightened Brewing Company.

The Lincoln Warehouse on the corner of 1st and Becher.

The Lincoln Warehouse on the corner of 1st and Becher.

With the help of experienced head-brewer Larson, former politician and philosophy major Vandervort used his own years spent in the local service industry to begin brewing on a modified home-brewing setup on the second floor of this red building.


After approximately one year, the success of their little venture necessitated a move to a bigger production space and demanded an area for the public to come and enjoy. Luckily they only had to move a floor down, and now the brewery’s new equipment sits on an old dock looking over the tap room and out one of three garage doors to the street. Though they only had two of their own brews on tap when we came in, this week  5-6 should be flowing out of the new equipment and into cold pints.


Batch ‘X’ Pale Ale
Tangy hops hits the back of your tongue immediately and lingers in your nose.

Cream City Cream Ale
Creamy (duh) and a little nutty. Washes away the hops from before with a satisfying mouthfeel.


Head-brewer Larson told us that they’re “trying to make the best beer possible given what (they) have”. Their attention to detail in each beer was born of necessity, considering the size of their starting operation. The goal is to carry that focus on diligent quality into their larger line.


A huge, old portrait of Honest Abe overlooks the Enlightened Brewing Company taproom, which is decorated and furnished to seem as if you’re in some sort of library or sitting room. But I suppose there’s no better setting to have an enlightened conversation than a comfortable seat with a fresh beer.

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