Breweries

Milwaukee is the beer capital for a reason.

Five favorites for Doors Open Milwaukee

Doors Open Milwaukee was held Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th. About 200 locations, many normally closed to the public, were open for visitors. Here are five of my favorite places to visit during this annual event.

1. Former Pabst Brewery

Although the area is undergoing rapid development, some of the original Pabst buildings remain. Photo illustration by Carl Swanson

Although the area is undergoing rapid redevelopment, some of the original Pabst buildings remain. Photo by Carl Swanson

Tour a speakeasy (actually, the former plant infirmary and ancient storage tunnels) at the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, 901 W. Juneau Ave. The speakeasy is open if the red jelly jar light is illuminated at the doorway marked “J.C. Haertel Real Estate & Financial Consulting.” The Pabst Brewing Co. was the subject of this Milwaukee Notebook post. (more…)

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Century-old dam is a reminder of Milwaukee’s up-river icehouses

This partially collapsed timber dam across the Milwaukee River north of Locust Street is all that remains of the Schlitz Brewing Company's ice-harvesting operation. Carl Swanson photo

This century-old partially collapsed timber dam across the Milwaukee River north of Locust Street is all that remains of the Schlitz Brewing Company’s ice-harvesting operation in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. Carl Swanson photo

There is a fascinating reminder of Riverwest’s past hidden in plain sight in the Milwaukee River just north of the Locust Street bridge. Here logs across the river trace the remains of the Schlitz icehouse dam. The dam is over a century old, but the reason for Schlitz building its icehouses here dates back even further – all the way to late 1878 when this area was largely open country.

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Enjoy Milwaukee this Labor Day

Sightseers enjoy all Milwaukee has to offer in this comic postcard from the early 1900s. The vehicle features coin-operated beer dispensers, as well as bins containing schweizer kane, pumpernickel, frankfurter, and sauerkraut. The person who mailed this card in 1907 advised the recipient to "Have a drink on us." Collection of Carl Swanson

Sightseers enjoy all Milwaukee has to offer in this comic postcard from the early 1900s. The vehicle features coin-operated beer dispensers, as well as bins containing schweizer kane, pumpernickel, frankfurter, and sauerkraut. The person who mailed this card in 1907 advised the recipient to “Have a drink on us.” Collection of Carl Swanson

Blue Ribbon memories

Although the area is undergoing rapid development, some of the original Pabst buildings remain. Photo illustration by Carl Swanson

Although the former Pabst brewery complex in Milwaukee is being converted into a mixed-use development, some of the original buildings remain. Photo illustration by Carl Swanson

When I moved to Milwaukee 25 years ago I did what everyone does. I toured the Pabst Brewery. Because, free beer.

Of course, Pabst Blue Ribbon is not in the same class as Riverwest Stein, but what is?

I arrived five minutes after the day’s last tour had departed, which is pretty much the story of my life. However, the people at the visitor’s center were very nice. A group from Germany had arranged for a private tour but they probably wouldn’t mind me tagging along.

The tour was led by a young woman who was good at her job but rather hampered by the German group’s overbearing leader. The Pabst guide would say one or two sentences then we all stood around for 10 minutes or so to let Mr. Bossy-Britches harangue his merry band of Krauts.

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One nation, united by beer

In 1888, Milwaukee’s Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company distributed this 15 x 26-inch chromolithograph poster. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-pga-04220 (digital file from original print).

In 1888, Milwaukee’s Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company distributed this 15 x 26-inch chromolithograph poster. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-pga-04220 (digital file from original print).

According to the caption supplied by the Library of Congress, “the man on the left looks like what Joseph Schlitz might have looked like had he been alive at the time of this advertisement. The other man may be a representative of ‘P.M. Ohmeis & Co.’”

Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison

Far be it from me to argue with the Library of Congress, but its caption is obviously wrong and kind of weird. “What Joseph Schlitz might have looked like had he been alive at the time.” Really? I guess nothing says, “Drink up!” like an artificially aged dead beer baron.

This broadsheet was printed in 1888, a presidential election year. The man at the left in the poster is the Republican candidate, Benjamin Harrison. The man in the center of the poster is his opponent, the Democrat incumbent president Grover Cleveland.

The Schlitz Brewing Co. was making the humorous point that good beer is one thing everyone can agree on.

Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland

Cleveland narrowly won the popular vote that year but Harrison won the electoral college by a substantial majority (233 to 168 votes) and consequently became the 23rd president of the United States.

But don′t shed any tears for Cleveland. He served as president twice. He defeated Harrison four years later, making Cleveland both the 22nd and 24th president – the only one to serve non-consecutive terms in office. You can win a lot of barroom bets knowing that bit of trivia.

The idea of these two hanging out and having a few beverages together is not so far fetched. It rained at Harrison′s inauguration. Outgoing President Cleveland not only attended the ceremony, he held an umbrella over Harrison’s head while he took the oath of office.Carl_sig

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