Among all the benefits of Illinois’ fast growing craft beer scene is the proliferation of brewery tours.
Tours have the potential to be big business for small brewers. They draw customers and build brand identification. For inspiration, Illinois-based brewers would do well to look north, to Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Lakefront is Milwaukee’s largest craft brewer. Its beers are available in Chicago, but many people make the trek to take its brewery tour, one of the most popular stops on the American craft beer circuit.
On a recent Friday afternoon, I toured the facility with my colleagues and Strange Brews co-hosts Tim Akimoff, Andrew Gill and WBEZ producer Joe Deceault. We were among a group of about twenty, many of them repeat customers. One Chicago woman has taken the tour five times. When I asked why she kept coming back she had a simple answer - because you can drink.
Lakefront is proud of the fact that unlike those other tours, they start you off with a beer in hand.