Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Brew City Puts Out Welcome Mat

Thirty years ago, Wisconsin became the first state in the union to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. At the time, it was a bold move—made even bolder because it happened in Wisconsin, a state more known for its breweries than for its stance on gay rights.

What was to become the home to the world’s largest brewery companies—Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. (later sold to Pabst), Blatz (whose name and formula was later sold and distributed by several breweries and is currently under the Miller collection of brands), Pabst (now headquartered in Los Angeles), and Miller/Coors—Milwaukee’s name is derived from the Potawatomi indian word minwaking meaning “gathering place by the water.” The “water” in this case being Lake Michigan which provides the area much of its recreational opportunities.

The gay area of Milwaukee is centered around the Walker’s Point and Downtown sections of the city. Walker’s Point is known for the $10 tours of the Milwaukee Brewing Company (613 S 2nd St), where you can drink your tour fee in free beer and flavor test your way through limited release craft drafts. Be sure to also pick up the complimentary chip for a free beer at Hamburger Mary’s located a block away (2130 S Kinnickinnic Ave). Mary’s is home to the one-pound burger known as the Proud Mary, currently priced at $14.25, so you know it has to be good.

Our favorite Walker’s Point hangout is a place called Woody’s (1579 S 2nd St) where there’s peanut shells on the floor, sports events on the big screen, pool, darts, and video games. The bartenders pour with a heavy hand. It must be from all the pushups they practice during the day, since these are some CUTE bodies prancing behind the horseshoe-shaped bar. They don’t make ‘em like Woody’s anymore.

Less traditional, but no less fun is Kruz Bar (354 E National Ave). In the Harbor View Neighborhood, it’s a bit of a schlep from the gay hood, but well worth the effort if you want to see and be seen. Kruz gets its name from the cruising that goes on here. And not a video screen in sight anywhere. Don’t miss the outside patio for a true Milwaukee decorating experience. We’d try to explain, but in this case seeing is believing.
At LaCage NiteClub (801 S 2nd St), there are two dance floors, six bars, and large and small video screen popping up all over. The noise level is as high as the energy gage, so rest up before venturing forth to LaCage.

For a full body workout, try the Animal House Gym, which is actually located just across the Milwaukee border in the neighboring town of West Allis (2030 South 55th St.). It’s a 10,000 square foot warehouse of well-maintained equipment and free weights, for the more grunt inclined. Dress in full cruise mode.

Winning the prize as the best local hotel, the Aloft Milwaukee (1230 N Old World 3rd St) has a trendy industrial feel to the place—a universal theme shared by all the Aloft Hotels (a division of Starwood). With views of the Milwaukee River and an indoor pool, you’ll find the downtown location and the cutting edge staff a perfect fit for your lifestyle. And yes, there’s a restaurant serving Milwaukee beers. Perfect.

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Robert Elias Deaton

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