If you hadn’t been looking for it, you might not have noticed that Milwaukee’s Company Brewing was even open. Inside, the televisions are dark, the house lights dimmed, save for a few bulbs over the bar. The ambient light of the kitchen bleeds into the taproom. A couple next to me whispers to each other in hushed tones, while some strangers around the bar stare into their phones and periodically sip their beers in silence.
It feels more like a library than a bar. There’s nary a sound, apart from the heavy bottomed glasses clunking onto the bar top and a woman shuffling some papers as she studies. Maybe it’s the week of sub-zero temperatures we’ve endured, or the January darkness that feels endless. It would almost be creepy if not for the beer, an unsettling scene from the mind of David Lynch, perhaps. I’m sipping on a smoked, whiskey-barrel-aged Quad, hoping its 11% ABV will exorcise the chill from my body before I finish the trip home.
Thanking the bartender on my way out, I realize it feels like I’ve been in good company tonight, even though nobody said anything.