When thinking of great places to head for a beer weekend the first location that jumps to mind might not be Kenosha, WI. Located between Chicago and Milwaukee this historic town of industry is a little off the highway.
If you have ever been on the road between Chicago and Milwaukee it is likely you have stopped off at Highway 50 to get gas or lunch, maybe even stopping at the equally historic Brat Stop. But if you were to pause for a moment and search the rich history of the area you would find a charming town full of passionate people working hard to overcome the world’s impression of this once great automotive manufacturing town. It has recently drawn national attention as a microcosm of the larger injustices and inequalities present throughout American society. And although not immune from these pressing societal issues, if you were to take the time to look a little deeper you would see a city working to overcome its industrial past by stepping toward a more equitable future. Nowhere is this more apparent than looking at the historic downtown.
A slow but steady wave of plumbers, carpenters, electricians, painters, artists, dreamers, and financiers are coaxing new life out of Kenosha’s venerable buildings. To someone who did not grow up here but has had a love affair with this lakeside city - it feels almost as if there is a collective breath being drawn like the seconds before the start of something. There has been a steady buildup of inertia for decades as this city grabs a hold of a new future.
The first struggling steps started years ago in the art scene here in town, then came music venues, revitalized bars, and fusion foods. It wasn’t long after good coffee moved in, a thriving farmers market and massive resetting of property along the lakeshore. Not that there weren't great things here long before; many of the businesses seeing benefits today were the anchors that kept Kenosha going through the departure of the long-standing automotive industry. Naturally, as more roads have been paved for diversity in the offerings of the city, more epicureans have made their way here.
Some of the first explorers who made their way here were greeted by an expanding local beer scene. The growth of beer is astonishing when you stop to think that the local beer industry is growing in a climate of robust beer consumption to begin with. Kenosha is no exception to that expansion. The beer scene is made more exciting as great food, live music, and a lakeside experience help shape out a great beer weekend destination.
While in town the perfect place to start your weekend is The Stella Hotel, recently renovated and in the heart of downtown. Inside you will find palatial rooms complete with The 1844 Table & Mash along with taking in the charm of the lake at The Crow’s Nest. From there a one block walk down 58th Street will get you to the center of the local beer scene. PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co. and Rustic Road Brewing Company are so close you could run tap lines back and forth between the two places. Beer explorers will not be disappointed in the ample seating and fantastic array of selections the two breweries offer.
Not far from Rustic Road is coffee shop/beer bar/bottle shop The Buzz. Try something on one of their many tap lines and if you like it enough, take it home with you from the attached bottle shop. You can also opt to have them uncork something from the cold cases to enjoy on the spot.
After departing The Buzz, head towards the lake to walk along the marina and parks adjacent to the downtown. If you make your way east, you will find a quiet spot just east of the downtown at Ashling on the Lough. Dinner, some live music, and a good selection of craft beers will help you close down your first night in town with plenty more beer locations to hit the following day.
No trip to Kenosha would be complete without a stop at either historic Franks Diner or The Coffee Pot for breakfast. After a full night of sampling beers and an early morning - a good breakfast is essential to enjoy day two.
After departing from breakfast head out to a few of the great natural areas around the city including Petrifying Springs Park. The recently installed Petrifying Springs Biergarten is a must see, with in ground fire pits, bags, and other fun activities - or just sit and relax in this Bavarian Style Bier Garden, complete with full Liters of beer.
From there it is only a brief run out to R’Noggin Brewing Co. for their open-air concept, complete with a stage and picnic tables. Don’t miss the chance to stop at the world-famous Brat Stop while you are out near the highway before you head back in towards town. As you head back from R’Noggin or Brat Stop, your final brewery destination is Kenosha Brewing Co. on the south side of town. Their taproom offers beers and a full menu.
As you make your way out of town make sure to stop by Tenuta’s for a selection of all the great beers you had around town - or grab some brewery fresh beer from your favorite spot. Kenosha is quickly becoming a beer lovers’ destination. See you soon!
Submitted by Quinn Ryan, Sales and Distribution Manager for PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co.