Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs boast a wealth of great independent coffee shops, award-winning roasters, and other excellent area establishments where you can get a caffeine fix. We plan to celebrate some of these places in a bi-weekly series we’re calling “Brewed City.” This week: Vennture Brew Co.
Over the last four-plus years, the region’s beer and coffee scenes have each exploded in exciting and encouraging ways. There are currently more great breweries and more outstanding roasters in and around Milwaukee than ever before. Since the summer of 2018, there has also been a business in Washington Heights that specializes in both brewing and roasting.
Vennture Brew Co was founded by three Milwaukee photographers with a sense of wanderlust and an interest in both coffee and beer. The trio managed to raise close to $22,000 on Kickstarter to help transform their hobby of “Brew Vennture”-ing around the country to experience barley and beans in new ways into a “hybrid brewery, coffee roaster, tap-house and cafe” with a permanent home at 5519 W. North Avenue.
In the near-five years since Vennture opened, we’ve managed to stop by a few times to partake in both sides of its beverage offerings. During that span, we’ve swung by sporadically to enjoy a few tasty craft beers. We’ve also dropped in on a few occasions to pick up a caffeinated drink while running errands or tending to work-related matters in either Washington Heights or nearby Wauwatosa—which begins fewer than five blocks away from Vennture.
We were fans very on, calling Vennture “a successful blend of style, execution, and originality” and declaring it to have “staying power.” Since our first visit to Vennture in July 2018, numerous other breweries have sprung up in the area. Others have opened satellite locations in the region. Meanwhile, some of Vennture’s contemporaries have closed and an abundance of cafes (and even a few new local roasters) have opened in and around Milwaukee. Through it all, Vennture’s winning mix of “coffee, beer, and community” has helped the hybrid business endure, if not thrive, in Washington Heights.
We paid Vennture another visit earlier this week. Though we typically tend towards its cold brew or a good old black coffee that highlights their house-roasted beans during our non-beer excursions, we decided to shake it up this time around by indulging in one of the cafe’s seasonal specialty drinks.
We placed our Coffee Blossom Honey Latte order, successfully resisted the counter-adjacent pile of bakery items made by local purveyors, and took a seat at the counter.
Within minutes, our mug of frothy steamed milk, subtly sweet honey, and rich and aromatic espresso was set before us. We enjoyed it as we took in the “community” mentioned in the business’ motto between sips.
Young families came in for their morning pick-me-up. Regulars were greeted by the trio of upbeat staffers that was churning out drinks for the surprisingly busy a.m. crowd. People with laptops worked at the bar and at window-facing counters, and groups gathered to chat at tables that were kissed by sunlight pouring in from North Ave. It was nice. Hell, we didn’t even really mind that John Mayer was playing on the shop’s speakers during our visit.
The decor is primarily clean and sleek, but there are glimmers of the owners’ fun personalities scattered throughout the cozy cafe. For example, there were a few dozen VHS copies of Speed arranged above the draft handles.
And this bathroom art is downright inspiring.
Decor aside, what we’re most taken by at Vennture is its versatility. The beer is enjoyable and is as outside of the box as its gregarious owners seem to be. The coffee (which also makes its way into some of the beers or occasionally winds up being aged in barrels of bourbon) and espresso beverages also more than hold their own. Its methods seem to be meticulous without coming off as pretentious. And for a segment of Washington Heights and East Tosa, it’s surely become a source of community in the neighborhood for close to five years. Whether we’re holding a pint of Vennture’s beer or a cup of its coffee, we’ll drink to that.
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