In INFUSED, a weekly column, Elizabeth J. Musgrave connects spirits, wine, and beer with culinary and creative arts.
Milwaukee’s own brewing roots may be planted strongly in German soil, but the city has been invaded by the Belgians and Dutch – and the local residents don’t seem to mind. Where are the Belgians holed up? Those daring, bold invaders can be found hiding right out in the open. The open rooftop, that is.
Café Benelux (346 N. Broadway) offers a rooftop advantage with views overlooking the ultracool revitalized neighborhood of the Historic Third Ward. Warehouses built in the 1800s are now filled with an eclectic array of pubs, fashion shops, spas, theaters and more, including Milwaukee Public Market and the Riverwalk. Within steps of Lake Michigan, the Belgians landed in a scenic spot to woo German-origin residents and visitors alike away from their traditional steins.
Named for the low country region of BElgium, NEtherlands, and LUXembourg, Café Benelux features a 41-page Bier Book and it is taking no prisoners. Hand-picked from the nooks and crannies of the favored European region’s breweries and monastaries, the menu include a diverse but well-focused list of draughts: saisons, farm ales, lambics and more. Gluten-free options are not just an afterthought, either, with an entire page of options ranging from 5.3 to 7 percent ABV.
Dark ales on the extensive list include Gulden Draak at 10.5 percent and the Tilburgs Dutch Brown Ale at a, comparably low 5 percent. Sours, amber reds, and IPAs are all on the frontline to take over the Lake Michigan-city’s tastebuds.
Cuvee des Trolls might just be a starred general, with blond malts and dried orange peel scents. Bitter, sour, and occasionally sweet, this officer from the Brasserrie Debuisoon in Leuze-Pipaix, Belgium, commands respect from all.
Glassware, which is considered not just a decorative chalice but an important piece of equipment, is paired properly with regard to each beer. Pairings are equally taken seriously when it comes to the food selection. Taking the server’s expert suggestion, the pannenkoeken (a pancetta, egg and crepe combination) frites and bitterballen (a Dutch meatball-type snack common in pubs) paired up well with the Cuvee des Trolls.
With a passion as devoted to Belgium as to its bier, Café Benelux makes the low country proud and Milwaukee content.
More information can be found at CafeBenelux.com
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is the editor for GottaGo.us, writing the fine-living syndicated column and syndicated blog, Gotta Go. Published both in print and online at GottaGo.us, AroundIndy.com, and BroadwayWorld.com, Gotta Go offers reviews and recommendations on food and drink, the performing arts, and travel destinations.
Elizabeth is also a freelance writer, photographer, public speaker, and a leading Indianapolis performing arts and restaurant critic. She can be heard on 93 WIBC's Saturday Morning News Show as Indy’s entertainment adviser, and can also be found on Twitter,LinkedIn, and Facebook.