Beginning in 1902 and for about 40 years, Schlitz Brewing Company was the largest brewer in the world. And it was brewed just blocks away from Pabst Brewing Company, which was once the second largest. By the later half on the century, they were both overtaken by Miller Brewing, based just 2 miles away. Global beverage industry consolidation and shifting tastes have taken their toll on Milwaukee’s reputation as the brewing capital of the world. Though Miller Brewing is still based in the city, the merger with Coors, and the subsequent re-organization on a global scale has diminished it’s attachment to the city of it’s birth. There are a number of well-establish, great craft brewers in the city (Lakefront Brewery and Sprecher Brewery have been proudly carrying the banner for the last few decades), a new generation of craft brewers and taprooms may finally bring Milwaukee squarely into the craft brewery revolution. Better late than never, I guess. Hopefully, this next generation revitalizes the city’s well-deserved reputation as a Brew Town. We thought a quick run down of the activities of 2016 would be helpful to our readers:
MobCraft Beer, which crowdsources it’s beer selections, will appear on Shark Tank on March 11th, 2016. Mobcraft is planning to open a brewery and taproom in Milwaukee summer of 2016. Founded in Madison in 2012 by Henry Schwartz, Andrew Gierczak and Giotto Troia, they make some of the funkiest, coolest brews around and the nature of the operation makes many of them one-off creations. The national exposure should be awesome for them.
Bavarian Bierhaus Brewpub plans to open spring 2016 on the grounds of the former Bavarian Inn. The brewery will be located in the beer hall and will be able to produce eight different beers at one time. Created as an independent operation after several German breweries declined to move forward. let’s hope the independence allows for some creativity to flourish as we already have Old Town Beer Hall in Germantown and the Old German Beer Hall in downtown Milwaukee which both feature Hofbrau products. It’s worth noting that the Bavarian Soccer Club has hosted an annual Oktoberfest on these grounds for years which served the second tastiest spanferkel in the city (top honors go to this Bunzel’s Meats), so they have a tradition to live up to at this site.
Westallion Brewing Co. is planning to open spring of 2016 in West Allis, WI, a southern Milwaukee suburb. Erik Dorfner, brewmaster and formerly with Lakefront Brewery, expects the brewery’s signature beers to be a Scottish Ale, a Vienna Lager, a Pilsner-style and a Hefeweizen, and hopes to offer seasonal and historical beers as well.
Enlightened Brewing Company is expanding at their 2018 South 1st Street location in Milwaukee, to open a tap room and increase production space. Hoping to open in spring or early summer of 2016. They have played around with American Wild Ales, Belgian Blondes and a Dark Wheat, but the standard offerings are an American Pale Ale, a Common Ale, and a Stout.
Black Husky Brewing, a microbrewery originally from Pembine, WI and brewers of a number of creative spruce-infused beers, will open a taproom at 909 E. Locust St. and convert the building at 2872 N. Bremen St. into a brewery. They will be located in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, which is also home to Lakefront Brewery, a tremendous training ground for many of the local brewers in Milwaukee.
Third Space Brewing plans to open a production brewery, a tasting room and an outdoor beer garden in summer of 2016 in a re-purposed factory at 1505 W. St. Paul Ave. which is near the Marquette University campus. It will be lead by Kevin Wright, a brewer who spent six years at Hangar 24 Craft Brewery in Redlands, CA.
City Lights Brewing is planning on opening in the old City Lights building at 2200 Mt. Vernon Ave. in summer of 2016 with brewery operations separated by a glass partition from the tasting room as well as a special event space and an outdoor beer garden. The historic buildings, which overlook the Menomonee River, were designed at the beginning of the 20th century by noted architect Alexander Eschweiler. First offerings will likely include summer and winter India Pale Ale styles, and a Brown Ale, according to Jimmy Gohsman, brewmaster.
Good City Brewing will open summer or fall of 2016 at 2108 N. Farwell Ave. with a 17-barrel brewhouse. Co-founder David Dupee of crowdfunding platform CraftFund, said the brewery will start out at about 2,000 barrels per year, under leadership of brewmaster and co-founder Andy Jones, formerly the plant manager at Lakefront Brewery. The planned line-up includes an IPA, Double IPA, and Imperial Stout variations, and most offerings will be vibrant, hop-forward versions.
Pabst Brewing Company new owner Eugene Kashper will try to revive the historical beer recipes with new small-batch beers based on Pabst’s archived recipes. Most, if not all, will be made by other brewers, but a taproom is planned in the historic renovation occurring in the Pabst development here in Milwaukee. The location is reportedly the former First German Mothodist Church on the historic Pabst campus, which had been used by the firm as a community gathering location after the church no longer used the building. It has great history and great architecture so it will be great to see it re-open as a beer hall. Also, the holding company that includes Pabst also includes Stroh’s and Schlitz. It would wonderful to get each of those brands going in Milwaukee once more.
Finally, Milwaukee Brewing Company will be taking over the former Pabst warehouse on the same campus, giving them a substantially larger footprint. They offer some of the most innovative brews coming out of Milwaukee right now (I’m looking at you O-Gii!) so a major expansion is great news for the Milwaukee beer scene.