Milwaukee Breweries: Enlightened and Eagle Park

On my trip to Milwaukee this weekend I made sure to spend some time visiting the local breweries. On Friday my son and I headed over to a couple breweries that were in the same building, Enlightened and Eagle Park.

We arrived at Eagle Park, which has a nice entrance off the main drag, with a big garage door that I would assume makes for a really nice summer hang-out spot. I ordered up a flight of 4 beers and opened up Untappd to start logging my thoughts. First though, I should mention that the interior space at Enlightened is really cool. It’s an old loading dock, and so their brewing equipment is elevated above ground level, which makes it look like it’s on display. The overall vibe was really industrial and cool.

However, I found the beer to be mediocre. A problem that I’m discovering in many small breweries lately is the lack of balance. Hop and malt character needs to work together, not against each other. In the case of Enlightened, I found many of their beers were dank when it came to bitterness. Earthy and dank for a hop character isn’t a bad thing, but you need to match it with a malt bill that balances it out. Personally, I like a little bit more caramel and sweetness in my malt backbone if you’re going to do earthy hops.

I didn’t find any of their beers undrinkable, but I just wasn’t that impressed. Probably the best in the batch for me was the Rye, which had a nice tartness to it. However, I really wish new breweries would spend more time on recipe development before launching and thinking that they can just shove anything to market. If you’re the only game in town that’s one thing, but this is Milwaukee, and all we had to do was head upstairs for a totally different experience.

IMG_2266.jpgEagle Park Brewing is on the second floor of the same warehouse building as Enlightened, and you even have to get buzzed in by a call box to enter. Once you find your way up, you’re greeted with a quaint little taproom that is decorated simply with a lot of music posters. It’s obvious that they enjoy music quite a lot at Eagle Park.

For as mediocre as Enlightened was, Eagle Park was a breath of fresh air. Everything I had there was really, really good. In particular I LOVED their Peach Milkshake beer. It was fruity and creamy, without being too chemically tasting. Perhaps it was my joy at finding decent beer, but I gave that one 5 stars. I was also very impressed by their Set List IPA. It was a truly balanced IPA, which seems to be a rarity these days. The hop character matched the malt body, and made for a really nice and drinkable beer.

I enjoyed their beers so much that I picked up one of their ‘make-your-own-4-packs’ to bring home. I’m saving some of them to share with friends, but the Peach Milkshake might not make it that long. I’m very excited with what I tried at Eagle Park, and I’m excited to see them grow. I was told that they’re actually moving to a bigger space soon, and it’s a well deserved upgrade. If you’re in the area, I would highly recommend checking them out.

Next up, another couple of places that help restore my faith in brewing.

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