Tag Archive | "Beer"

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Blatz Beer Column: Fans of hard cider unite! Why Strongbow is where its at

Posted on 18 November 2009 by Katelyn Ferral

By Katelyn Ferral
Fans of hard cider unite!
My quiver’s full: why Strongbow is where its at
I’ll admit it, when it comes to my alcoholic beverages I’m a full-on, stereotypical girly woman.
I like my booze like I like my men: sweet and flavorful. Boone’s Farm, anyone?
No, but really, I’ve never liked beer. And believe me, its been a rough four years with an aversion like that.  I’ve never experienced all the things real college kids are supposed to experience: never had that magical beer pong moment of friendship and camaraderie, never downed a 12 pack from a beer bong like all the hardcore kids, never did a keg stand (well, for more than .2 seconds and least) and never strolled up to a local bar and demanded a cold Miller like one of the boys.
Yep, it’s been Boone’s Farm (Melon ball flavor, obviously) Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Amaretto sours for me, that is until I was captivated by hard cider.
Straight-up hard cider. From the U.K, no less.
That’s right, I may not have met my soul mate at Marquette but I have found my intoxicating significant other in Strongbow, the “authentic English cider with a dry and refreshing finish.”
It’s a good thing I finally found Strongbow. Not only do I feel cooler ordering at the bar, but this drink’s apple infused overtones mixed with a hard edge is immensely satisfying. In fact as I sit here writing this, drinking my Strongbow, I’m feeling pretty darn satisfied, dare I say even delighted. Hard cider has that affect on people.
Strongbow is an import cider first mulled into existence by the late H.P. Bulmer in 1887. Largely considered the “household name in cider,” Strongbow is named after the knight Richard de Clare, later Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed “Strongbow” for relying heavily on Welsh archers during campaigns in Ireland, where the native Irish had few bows.
Strongbow has 5.0% alcohol volume in a 12oz bottle, but it’s barely noticeable with its golden radiance and sweet essence that permeates the mouth upon sippage. This hard cider accounts for over half of the cider sold in England and is pretty top-shelf because it is produced with a Royal Warrant; aka: even the Queen is obsessed.

Strongbow has slight similarities to beer, but the overall taste, presentation and awesomeness-factor is much better. Trust me on this one. With its crisp and authentic current of taste-bud bliss with every swig, you couldn’t choose a better beverage for your night out (or in, for that matter)

I’ll admit it, when it comes to my alcoholic beverages I’m a full-on, stereotypical girly woman.

I like my booze like I like my men: sweet and flavorful. Boone’s Farm, anyone?

No, but really, I’ve never liked beer. And believe me, its been a rough four years with an aversion like that.  I’ve never experienced all the things real college kids are supposed to experience: never had that magical beer pong moment of friendship and camaraderie, never downed a 12 pack from a beer bong like all the hardcore kids, never did a keg stand (well, for more than .2 seconds and least) and never strolled up to a local bar and demanded a cold Miller like one of the boys.

Yep, it’s been Boone’s Farm (Melon ball flavor, obviously) Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Amaretto sours for me, that is until I was captivated by hard cider.

Straight-up hard cider. From the U.K, no less.

That’s right, I may not have met my soul mate at Marquette but I have found my intoxicating significant other in Strongbow, the “authentic English cider with a dry and refreshing finish.”

It’s a good thing I finally found Strongbow. Not only do I feel cooler ordering at the bar, but this drink’s apple infused overtones mixed with a hard edge is immensely satisfying. In fact as I sit here writing this, drinking my Strongbow, I’m feeling pretty darn satisfied, dare I say even delighted. Hard cider has that affect on people.

Strongbow is an import cider first mulled into existence by the late H.P. Bulmer in 1887. Largely considered the “household name in cider,” Strongbow is named after the knight Richard de Clare, later Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed “Strongbow” for relying heavily on Welsh archers during campaigns in Ireland, where the native Irish had few bows.

Strongbow has 5.0% alcohol volume in a 12oz bottle, but it’s barely noticeable with its golden radiance and sweet essence that permeates the mouth upon sippage. This hard cider accounts for over half of the cider sold in England and is pretty top-shelf because it is produced with a Royal Warrant; aka: even the Queen is obsessed.

Strongbow has slight similarities to beer, but the overall taste, presentation and awesomeness-factor is much better. Trust me on this one. With its crisp and authentic current of taste-bud bliss with every swig, you couldn’t choose a better beverage for your night out (or in, for that matter).

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A hoppin’ beer cave, plus two new beers and a torpedo!

Posted on 12 February 2009 by Zachary Davis

This beer column has gone corporate! Blatz Liquor in the new Blatz condo building on Broadway has graciously allowed me to discuss some of their great products. Since they have bestowed me with this honor, I first wanted to talk about them. Much like Open Pantry, Blatz has a very cold/refreshing beer cave. The major difference is that they remove the dozens of boxes of Keystone, Hamm’s and Busch and replace them with a refreshing selection of microbrews. The selection includes a number of variety packs from various breweries, which is always a great way to find new favorites. Now to the beer!

A delightful and easy to find beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. However, this is not what I am going to talk about. The beer that I was so excited to try is Sierra Nevada’s new nationwide offering, Torpedo. Torpedo is a very good middle of the road Indian Pale Ale (IPA). One thing that is so pleasant about this new twist on the IPA are the not so hard to taste citric undertones. This is an awesome addition because so many IPA’s will blow you away with an overwhelming hops taste. On the topic of why it’s called torpedo, the rumor is that when making an IPA, breweries use a torpedo-like device to submerge the extra hops into the beer. I can’t say if this is true or not, but who cares? That just sounds cool.

Along the same lines, I tried out Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale. It’s from the Flying Dog Brewery and it’s really nice and subtle. I would liken it to Hoegaarden Light. Not nearly as complex or robust, but if you’re looking for something a little easier to drink than you might like it doggie style. Doggie style does finish with a somewhat spicy taste, which I think, gives it an original taste. This spicy characteristic is a bit surprising on the first sip but by the end of the beer it’s hard not to find it refreshing.
In closing, if you’re a fan of great beer like me you should definitely check out the new Blatz beer cave. Also, make sure to find a pale ale that you like because the hoppy taste can be very soothing and usually has a high alcohol content!

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Instead of just trying new beers, try new breweries and bars to hop through the weekend

Posted on 29 January 2009 by Zachary Davis

Most of the time I talk about beers to drink in this column, but seeing as this is the first one of the new semester and there are more and more people turning 21, I thought I would do something different. I am going to reveal some of my favorite places to go and drink beer.

I want to begin with the disclaimer that some of these recommendations are based on selection and others on pure atmosphere. To lead us off, the Lakefront brewery Friday night fish fry is a great place to start a weekend. The food is affordable and the beer is delicious as usual. You can also turn this good dinner into a really fun brewery tour. It only costs five bucks and at the end you’re given a collectible pint glass to take home.

If you were looking to get out to Water Street after the tour there is one location that has a down right impressive selection of beer. Bar Louis, which doubles as both a restaurant and bar, has a staggering number of beers on tap for anyone to try. Some of them are brews you would recognize from any liquor store, others are truly rare micro-brews that you can’t find on tap anywhere else.

One place that I recommend for a fun time and a very lively sociable atmosphere is Lucille’s. Located on the north end of Third Street, it is one of the most original places to drink in town. It has a double piano setup whose players take requests and play just about anything. Well they play anything you might imagine a bunch of Guiness drinking forty-year-olds would know.

Another place that has a very unique atmosphere but not an amazing beer selection is the Safe House. Most people know it as the spy themed restaurant but come nighttime it turns into a really fun bar. It has numerous specialty drinks that come in collectible glasses, but they are pretty expensive. My favorite part about the place is the blackjack table that you can play for free drinks. If you don’t know how to play, the very nice dealer will help you out with every hand and it’s not nearly serious enough for you to be made fun of. All in all Milwaukee has some awesome places to try out your new drivers license and if you are already 21, I hope you learned of a cool new place.

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A beer that would even make a turkey hop (or gobble)for joy

Posted on 06 November 2008 by Zachary Davis

As I recently stepped out of the bar to the freezing cold weather of 2 a.m. Milwaukee, I started to realize that it is almost Thanksgiving. The holidays bring fun times, good food, bloated stomachs and many wonderful things like funny tasting beer. Every year more and more breweries around the country provide us with somewhat spicy beer for our holiday palates to enjoy.

The popular kid in this class is Oktoberfest-style beers. They usually come with a nice amber tone and combine flavor like apple, spices and caramel with a large helping of malt. Just about every major brewery under the sun begins releasing their Oktoberfest around the middle of September and you can still find it on the shelves in late November, if not year around. Even though that bar that starts with C and ends in affrey’s has ended its sale of Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest, it should be considered one of the best of the light bodied Oktoberfest variations around. For a darker and heavier twist with a little bit more spice, try the Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen. It will probably require a trip to the better-stocked beer retailers but will be well worth it.

Lately though, some companies have decided to differentiate themselves with a staple on the Thanksgiving Day table. Companies like Blue Moon Brewery and Lakefront Brewery, just up the road from campus, have been infusing beer with an obscene amount of pumpkin flavor. Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale is heavily flavored with cinnamon and pumpkin flavors that represent everything your grandmother’s pumpkin pie does. The spice of the beer comes first and sticks with the taste all the way through the pumpkin flavoring until it ends with nice sweet undertones.

Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager is quite different however. They have taken pumpkin beer to a whole other level by distilling loads and loads of pumpkin into the beer. The only way to imagine this beer is to envision the mixing of a liquefied pumpkin pie with your basic American lager. The lager is not bringing much besides alcohol, and the pumpkin pie is coming in fists a-flying.

The only other offering I have is Leinenkugel’s Apple Spice, which just like its name says is a nice combination of apple aromas with a solid bite throughout. I realize that many of these beers sound like an unnecessary diversion from your normal daily routine, but I would highly recommend putting these beers in your refrigerator. Trust me, once you have had them you will proudly put the bottle caps in your collection on the ceiling!

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Spotted Cow isn’t all it’s hopped up to be

Posted on 24 September 2008 by Zachary Davis

Sorry folks but Spotted Cow is just not that good.

I consider myself to have a very open mind when it comes to people’s taste in beer. Obviously I will never endorse things as crummy as Bud Light, but above that I can at least come to terms with the fact that people like different things. I am, however, more and more outraged at how often people rant and rave about New Glarus Spotted Cow.

It is one hundred percent mediocrity. It is a slightly sweet beer with subtle hints of citrus, mostly lemon and metallic undertones. Absolutely nothing about this beer makes me or anyone I know just want to stand up and scream from the rooftops. There is also the price issue: without including the cost I would give Spotted Cow a solid B-. Including the cost I would lower it down to a straight C.

There are just so many beers that deal with these flavors in a richer and smoother fashion. Blue Moon, for example, includes a great balance of hops and citrus, and maintains a similar heaviness as Spotted Cow.

If you like the sweet aspects, try the cheaper and more refreshing Leinenkugel’s Nude Beach. Nude Beach maintains strong flavor with less body than the overhyped Spotted Cow.
Now if you are looking to just improve your tastes in beer there are a ton of great options at a similar price.

Since we are fast approaching fall, there is no reason not to indulge in the great variations of October fest beer. Sam Adams, Leinenkugel’s and many other breweries make great German interpretations, and since they only hit the shelves around this time I would highly recommend you seize the opportunity. Going along with other easy-to-find beers with a lot more flavor, try any of the Hacker-Pschorr variations. These beers are heavier than Spotted Cow but are packed with so much more flavor, and the aromas are second to none.

We all go to school in one of the greatest beer cities in the world. Numerous restaurants around town brew fantastic beers, and there are three famous breweries all within just a couple of miles. Let us put down the mediocre beers and start drinking something truly worthwhile.

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Summer Shandy captures the essence of the season

Posted on 10 September 2008 by Remington Tonar

With the arrival of the school year we pause to reflect on our summer experiences. We’re sure to miss the leisure of not having class and the relaxation of a day at the beach but another summer has gone by. As summer yields to fall we must also take a moment to remember Wisconsin’s favorite seasonal brew: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

I apologize if you’re a fan of Wisconsin’s other popular summer brew, New Glarus Totally Naked. I must confess I think that Totally Naked is the superior beer of these two seasonal brews, but Summer Shandy better captures the essence of the summer season.

Its light lager base provides the perfect backdrop for the refreshing natural lemonade flavoring infused into the beer, providing a gentle citrus flavor while still maintaining its status as a beer.

I clarify that Summer Shandy is still identifiable as a beer due to the lack of beeriness in its sister drink, Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss, which compromises its beer taste for a strong berry flavor, making it more of a wine cooler than a beer. Summer Shandy, while lacking a distinctive flavor of either hops or malt, still manages to convey a very mild bitterness beneath the citrus taste.

Although great beers have a unique and prominent taste that features either malt or hops, like the re-introduced Schlitz which is a great example of the old malt beers that made Milwaukee famous (although I’m told by beer connoisseurs older than myself that it’s not quite as good as the original), Summer Shandy makes a name for itself by being a seasonal beer that doesn’t strive to be a great beer, but a great drink.

If you have not had the opportunity to indulge yourself in the Shandy, I would suggest hunting a bottle down before it goes off the market for the fall. If you find that you’re too late to pick up some Summer Shandy, then keep it on your list of things to buy next summer.

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Beyond Busch Light: Kaplan Hat Hefeweizen

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Benjamin Juarez

“Beer is relative,” said the great philosopher. “How so?” asked his disciple. “Because when cold it refreshes; when warm it relaxes; when had as a dessert, it satisfies; when complemented with a flavor similar to what it exhibits, its flavor changes.” The disciple pondered on such a profound statement, and decided to proceed with the conversation. “I need to know how the taste changes when it is complemented with a similar flavor,” asked he. The great philosopher nodded his head, and with a smirk handed his disciple an ancient manuscript of this beer article.

The Beer: On a recent road trip to Des Moines, Iowa, I found myself enjoying the sights of a brewery located on the city’s nightlife strip — Court Ave. Brewery. Here, I decided to introduce people to a beer exclusive to the state, and if you are in the area, you might want to check this brew out. It is called Kaplan Hat Hefeweizen. Yes, it is a hefeweizen for you fans of this style of brew.

The Color: She’s blonde, and she loves to be so. She becomes that way because of the strength of the wheat over the malt, though it is a 50:50 blend. She is a bit less cloudy than her sisters when it comes to being a hefeweizen, a little clearer, but she stands on her own with her color.

The Taste: This is where things get interesting; where the blonde becomes her own “multi-personalitied” self. As I tasted this well-brewed potable, I noticed her tastes changed. Cold, she was refreshing like a mid-afternoon swim on a hot summer day. The citrus flavors, paired with a lemon wedge, were amplified. The yeast used in the beer produces chemicals that bring about other flavors, hence by adding the lemon we amplified its natural citrus taste. As I took time tasting her, I realized that as she warmed up in my hand she became more of a relaxing dessert beer. I felt daring, so I decided to add a couple of slices of bananas to my second pint. Not a bad idea, it exemplified the fruity palate of this style brew. Perhaps you can find a more odd combination? Rating: 8

On its own: The beer on its own is good, but it cannot compare to the things one can do with the beer as far as experimenting with the taste itself. I consider it a bit watered down until you begin to taste the different flavors inside of it.   Rating: 7

With a burger: I would say drink it cold with a nice juicy burger. Compliment it with a nice, large lemon wedge.  Rating: 7.5

With a nice dinner: A moderately priced dinner may work well with this brew, because of the hefeweizen’s versatility when dealing with sweet or sour notes. Rating: 8

With a date: A great beer for picking up while on a date with that girl that just makes you go crazy. While sitting together in her living room you just have a pint or two, while you tell a few jokes and listen to Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child.” Rating: 8.5 (this is what you make of it)

Final Opinion: This beer is made to be played with. Try it in the many forms I explained above, or discover other ways that tickle your fancy. That said, I would recommend picking up a jug or two of this stuff if you ever visit Des Moines, Iowa.

Where Available: 515-282-BREW

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Beyond Busch Light: The End of the World

Posted on 15 January 2008 by Benjamin Juarez

I understand that there are many brewery traditions all around the world, but I have a feeling that a certain place is neglected when it comes to fine beers. This place is a land known for its forests, beautiful cities and friendly people. This place – Canada! Oh, Canada, what a nice place for seeking out new tastes and experiences.

The Beer: Called “La Fin du Monde,” or “The End of the World” in French. But why? Could it be that its nine percent alcohol volume can put you under the table in requisite circumstances, i.e. if you have not eaten all day? Or does it consider itself the end for the search of a great wheat beer in the Belgian tradition? No one really knows, but it is fun to play around with the idea as you drink it in the special beer glass it comes with. That is correct, you get a free beer glass upon purchasing this fine drink!

The Color: The color is your standard mix of light orange and yellow; this is typical in a Belgian-style wheat beer. It is a good color once it comes out of the dark brown bottle.

The Taste: The taste is rather unique when compared to other Belgian-style wheat beers. It has a sharp yet sweet bite upon arrival into your mouth. This must be due to the natural wheat taste along with its mix of wild spices. Its triple-fermentation process— something the Unibroue brewery prides itself on—adds a strong finish that stays in the mouth. The taste is elegant yet bold. Rating: 7.5

On its own: It is sold in individual bottles that are 750 ml in content, which gives it a strong presence on the table, with its own glass filled to the brim right next to it. The taste might be too strong for some on its own. Rating: 7.5

With a burger: To bring balance to this beer, there is a need for a side-dish of some sort, but there is always room for a nice burger. In fact, this brew strengthens the taste of a char-grilled burger. Rating: 8

With a nice dinner: The end of the world does not have to come when you order this beer and a dish at Mo’s Cucina. The wheat and wild spices mix allows for a wide range of tastes. This is a renaissance beer! Rating: 8

With a date: Make a nice candlelight dinner at home with your significant other. While you both wait for the chicken to finish baking in the oven sit down on the couch with your beer glasses filled as you ask each other how your days went. You will soon notice things that you had not noticed about them before—do not forget the chicken burning in the oven! Rating: 8.5

Final Opinion: If this beer was a man, it would be named Jack. Why? Because it is a “Jack-of-all-trades.” La Fin du Monde is strong, bold and smooth. Its after-taste lingers, so it might not appeal to everyone, but its body is worth its feel in the mouth, while the taste is not so bad.

Where Available: It is imported at the Milwaukee Public Market.

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Beyond Busch Light: A Beer Brewed with Knowledge is Tasted with Wisdom

Posted on 07 November 2007 by Benjamin Juarez

The simple truth is that I, unlike many of my contemporaries, like my beer brewed by monks in an approximately 150-year-old Belgian monastery. Perhaps it is just my personality that drives toward tradition when it comes to such things as beer or food. Give me something that has its roots deep in success, something that has been around for being itself, and has expanded for doing so. No coercion, no millions of dollars in advertisement, nothing of the sort, just a beer brewed by monks.

The Beer: Named after the place where it is brewed, Chimay, at the Abbey of Notre Dame de Scourmont in Belgium, it is a work that requires its own name according to the different “Trappist” recipes. In this case, I am reviewing Chimay Blue. So what exactly does “Trappist” mean? Trappist is the order of monks working in the brewery at Chimay. It is their recipe and, as stated on their Web site, “the majority of the revenue generated from its sale is used for charitable purposes.”

The Taste: Think of yourself sitting down by a nice cozy fire in a dim room. As you sip this fine beer, your senses are invigorated by its sweet taste. Halfway through the taste there are rings of spice that zip in through your palate. When drinking this, you will notice that the taste changes in degrees of sweetness as your hand warms the beer. Rating: 8.5

On its own: Though it comes in a bottle this beer comes with its own chalice, which reminds me of a brandy glass. It is meant to be held with your hands cupping the bottom while slowly tasting the changing flavor. It is a bit more expensive than Miller Light, but that is because it is to be enjoyed as a work of art, not as something that will “get the job done,” although the alcohol content is nine percent. Rating: 9

With a nice dinner: Despite the advertisements, Miller High Life is not the Champagne of beers. I do not know how many times I have to remind people. If you are going to have a nice dinner, then a beer with tastes of wine is nothing short of a good call (word play). Rating: 8.5

With a date: Chalice in hand, I gaze into her eyes, as she watches me take my drink. I answer her question as to the link between Aristotle and the great scholars of Islam and how they contributed to the founding of Universities in the West. She smiles with intrigue, as I notice that the beer’s presentation in my hand makes me feel sophisticated, adding a sparkle to my confidence. Rating: 8

Final Opinion: It is a wonderful concoction, which will help you realize that there is more to beer than just getting a buzz. Life is to be tasted, and this beer brings a sense of being in an otherwise tasteless life (if all you have is beer that tastes like gutter water).

Where Available: You can find this brew almost anywhere on the Milwaukee Street scene, including Kenadees, Three, Eve, The Social and Tangerine (I prefer Kenadees). It’s also available with a variety of other great beers, at the Milwaukee Public Market on 400 N. Water St.

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Beyond Busch Light: Cerveza Pilsener, a taste of Central America

Posted on 10 October 2007 by Benjamin Juarez

Over 100 years ago, Salvadorian Rafael Meza Ayau started a brewing company by the name of “Rafael Meza Ayau y Cia,” which was later changed to “La Constancia.” From the lines of this investment came El Salvador’s first world-famous beer. The delicate touch of the Salvadorian people created a beer that has been awarded gold medals by the World Cup of Beers in Brussels and Rome in 1965, 1995, 2000 and 2007. The Beer: A beer with a name as simple, and not so common, as “Pilsener” (Spanish for Pilsner) is usually looked over by much of the “usual” beer crowd. “Not so special,” one might think at first, but this light lager has much to offer in taste, feel and balance. This drink puts hair on your chest, while at the same time melting your heart.

The Color: A light liquid gold in a frozen mug, a fusion of salt and frost around the rim and a lime-wedge floating inside as the fizz rises toward the surface—yes! This is to drink “chelada”-style.

The Taste: Finally, we get to the taste! This brew is for the thirsty—for those who have yet to have a good beer all day. It is refreshingly smooth, with a sudden bitter taste towards the end. The bitterness does not linger, unlike other beers—preparing you for the next sip of this one hundred year old recipe. The feel is, as stated before, smooth and crisp and it goes down clean. A proper balance is needed in such cases, so there is a need for a small, yet brief, bitter after-taste that goes well with the lime-wedge and salt. Rating: 8.5

On its own: This beer wins gold medals for a reason! Internationally recognized, this liquid gold is a libation to the deities of Latin American brewing. Rating: 8.5

With a burger: This beer has proper balance to be enjoyed with almost any food. I prefer it with seafood, mainly raw oysters or mussels with Worcestershire sauce, lime and salt. Rating: 8

With a nice dinner: A light lager and a pricey dinner? This beer is good with almost any food, because it aids it all in going down smoothly. It would not be my first choice at a restaurant such as The Social or Sabor, but it would be appreciated nevertheless. Rating: 7

With a date: “La Constancia” prides itself in the way “Pilsener” brings people together as a social medium. In El Salvador the commercial always ends with “Alegria incoparable! es cosa de cheros!” This is loosely translated to “Joy incomparable! It’s a friends’ thing!” I would agree – this is definitely a beer that would be safe to order on a date. Rating: 8.5

Final Opinion: This beer is hard to find here in Milwaukee, and, as far as I know, it can only be found in one place: El Salvador Restaurant. It used to be available at the El Rey supermarkets, and it might still be available there, but last time I checked they were no longer carrying it. That said, it is a rare find and a good one at that, which makes people enjoy it all the more.

Where Available: El Salvador Restaurant, 2316 S. 6th St., Milwaukee, WI 53215, (414) 383-2039.

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