Pabst Brewing took root in Wisconsin’s largest city in the 1880s, when Captain Frederick Pabst assumed leadership of Empire Brewing and started tying a blue silk ribbon around each bottle. The company thrived for decades but eventually fell on hard times and ceased production in Milwaukee overnight about 20 years ago. Its hilltop complex languished. Until now.
Under the direction of a philanthropic investment group, the old Pabst property is transforming into The Brewery, a multi-use development that, when complete, will blend retail, residential, and office space. The first order of business is the Brewhouse Inn and Suites (1215 N. 10th St., 414-810-3350, brewhousesuites.com; rooms from $149), new LEED-certified lodging that repurposes the 1882 main building and many of its original features—call it the dawn of the “brewtique” hotel. The 90 all-suite accommodations range from studios to two-bedrooms, kitted out with steampunk touches like headboards made of lumber salvaged from elsewhere on the property. Six oversized copper brew kettles on display in the five-story atrium serve as the hotel’s showy centerpiece. A vibrant stained-glass window commemorates King Gambrinus, patron saint of beer; the reception desk is composed of recycled bottles; and the on-site Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub always keeps PBR on tap.
Best Place Milwaukee tours (901 W. Juneau Ave., 414-630-1609, bestplacemilwaukee.com) offer a behind-the-scenes look at the historic Pabst brewery with a cold 16-ounce draft at the end. A more-modern undertaking, Lakefront Brewery (1872 N. Commerce St., 414-372-8800, lakefrontbrewery.com), garners high praise and awards for its bock and organic ESB. In other words, here, happy hour can last all weekend.
Drive time: 5 hours
See: Giant wings fan open and closed over the four-floor, 40-gallery Milwaukee Art Museum (700 N. Art Museum Dr., 414-224-3200, mam.org).
Play: The ping-pong bar Evolution MKE (233 E. Chicago St., 414-831-7746, facebook.com/spinmilwaukee) pairs table tennis with drinks.
Sample: For a requisite taste of Wisconsin dairy, try the cheddar and squeaky curds at Clock Shadow Creamery (138 W. Bruce St., 414-273-9711, clockshadowcreamery.com), one of the country’s only urban cheese factories.
More info: milwaukee.org
Milwaukee Art Museum photo by Jeff Millies
This article appeared in the March 2014 issue.