Brewed In Milwaukee: Enlightened Brewing Company

I had the awesome opportunity to do an interview with James and Tommy from Enlightened Brewing Company. Dan and I also stopped by and tasted their beers, and let me tell you, they are good. Like REALLY good.

Check out pieces of the interview below and a full review of the beers I tried (a link to the full interview is included at the end)!

The Beer

Cream City Brix: LOVED THIS BEER. I gave it a 4.5 star on Untappd (an app to track your beers). It was smooth, fresh, and had just the right balance between complex flavor and being easily drinkable. The kind of beer you want at a tailgate or a barbecue. This is Enlightened’s flagship beer and a must try when you go in.

The Daily Stipend: This is an American Pale Wheat Ale and it was delicious. I gave it a 3.5 on Untappd. The flavor was complex but not quite as hoppy as you tend to see in a Pale Ale. My favorite part about this beer is the taste was consistent throughout. There was no initial flavor then an aftertaste. It tasted the same the entire way through and it was SO GOOD.

The Brewery

The brewery and taproom is small but clean and very well laid out. There were a good number of people there when we went, yet it didn’t feel like we were cramped or bumping elbows. There is no food, but you can order food to the brewery (they have a list of local places and their address to make ordering very simple). The vibe was very relaxed: people there to drink some good beer and have a good conversation. There was an outdoor fire pit and patio for nice nights. A great perk of Enlightened is dogs are allowed (as long as they like people).

Here is some basic info to get you there:

Address:  2018 S. 1st Street, Milwaukee WI 53207

Hours: Wednesday 4-10pm, Thursday 4-11pm, Friday and Saturday 3pm to midnight, and Sunday Noon-5pm.

The Interview

What makes your brewery unique?

Our brewery has always been really scrappy and personal. We’ve done a TON of the work ourselves and with family and friends who lent a hand. We didn’t start out with a ton of money or any investors, so it’s definitely been a big DIY passion project. We couldn’t have got where we are today if we were just in it for the business opportunity or the money: if you get into beer for the money, you’re in the WRONG line of work. 😉 I think we’ve created an atmosphere with our tap room that reflects our attitudes about work, comfort, and building something that’s your own. Another thing that might set us apart is our style choices when making beer. We didn’t set out to make our entire lineup sessionable, but those are the beers that have formed as ours over time. Our style is “keep it simple” and we feel that you don’t have to over-complicate beer for it to taste good. That’s not to say that we’re not interested in complex recipes or in taking risks with barrel aging or kettle souring etc.

How is your beer connected to the local area?

Our neighborhood (and our city) is a big asset to us. The bars and restaurants that we loved going to helped us to get going when we first hit the streets selling beer. The people that own these places are our friends and neighbors and they’re really great people aside from owning great businesses. It’s just an honor to be a part of a community like we have here in the craftier areas of Milwaukee. Not only that, but being a brewery offers us the opportunity to use our product to help different organizations raise money for their cause. We’ve worked with people raising money for schools, parks, river revitalization, community centers, food banks and even personal health battles. It’s nice to have something tangible that we can offer people to turn around and use to raise money for a good cause. And all of that goes to help something in our own proximity with people that live and work around us. Also, we sell our beer to bars and restaurants just in the Milwaukee area, so they’re ambassadors for our beer as much as we are. I think it helps that they know who we are and what we represent and vice versa.

 Was the expectation of building and opening a brewery different from reality?

I would say that since I didn’t have any experience working in a commercial brewery, the experience of building and operating a brewery is all new to me. We all knew it would be a lot of hard work, and that expectation has been met tenfold. I would say that something I didn’t expect was how accommodating and collaborative other breweries would be. From everything you hear about “business” there’s so much competition and you’d be forgiven if you thought it was all cutthroat. Especially in beer where tap line and shelf real estate is limited and the number of breweries is exploding every year. But what we’ve found, at least in Milwaukee, is that every brewery is interested in working together – from the crafty forefathers like Lakefront, Sprecher, and MKE to the new kids on the block. Even a huge company like Miller has found ways to work with smaller breweries, like including Milwaukee craft beer in certain areas of Miller Park. We all have events together and share knowledge and best practices, sometimes ingredients if we need them. It was pretty refreshing and unexpected and I hope it continues.

A huge thank you to James and Tommy for doing the interview!

If you are interested in seeing the entire interview, check it out here.

Check out my other posts in the Brewed In Milwaukee Series:

The Explorium Brewpub

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