Lakefront Brewing Riverwest Stein Beer
Host city: Milwaukee, Wis.
You can still visit the Miller beer caves, stroll by the old Pabst brewery and take in a Brewers game, but make sure you finish your day in Milwaukee at Lakefront.
This brewery is the embodiment of Milwaukee's transition from its rich history as a brewing town to its evolving present as a creative hub. It shares a spot on the same water as the city's Diego Calatrava-designed art museum and resides in a Riverwest nieghborhood known as much for its hipsters as its historic significance.
It brewed some of the nation's first organic beers and offered New Grist as one of the beer world's first gluten-free offerings. It repurposed an old electric railway and power station as its base of operations and restored lights from a World War I-era Milwaukee beer hall for its own facility. Still, the polka bands play in its own beer hall, the weekly fish fry brings out the crowds and the traditional warm pretzels and brats share menu space with gluten-free and vegan fare.
Through Lakefront's nearly 30-year history, the one constant has been its malty, amber Riverwest Stein Beer. It may no be the most exciting beer on its menu, but it's one of the most drinkable at 5.6% ABV. Combine that with some old-Milwaukee flavor that predates the yellow light lager people came to associate with this city, and you get a beer that -- like its hometown -- is more interesting and complex than its reputation suggests.