Whether it's on tap, in bottles, cans or kegs, beer is what "Made Milwaukee Famous." From legendary German brewers Blatz, Pabst, Schlitz and Miller to modern craft brew masters, Milwaukee's beer heritage and culture continues.
Milwaukee’s vast array of beer and brewing opportunities recently expanded with the completion of the Brewhouse Inn & Suites. Now visitors can even sleep while immersed in brewing history at the former Pabst Brewery. Historic highlights of this 90-room, all-suite hotel include five original giant copper brew kettles in the second floor lobby and a stained glass window depicting King Gambrinus, the patron saint of beer. The property, which was featured in Jetsetter in 2014, is also home to Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, a brewpub featuring casual fare and an outdoor beer garden.
HISTORICAL BEER TOURS
If you like PBR, you’ll love Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery. A retro-cool tour sets the stage with vintage beer commercials and your choice of an ice-cold Pabst, Schlitz or root beer. The “Best” buildings are the site of the former Pabst Corporate Offices, which include Captain Pabst’s office, the Blue Ribbon Hall and cozy Captain’s Courtyard.
If you’d like to experience how Captain Pabst lived, make sure to check out the Pabst Mansion, located downtown on Wisconsin Avenue. Built in the 1890s to be one of the finest homes in the city, the mansion was inspired by the Flemish Renaissance Revival style. Pabst’s former home is complete with ornately handcrafted woodwork, original wall coverings, elegant furnishings and beautiful stained glass.
Next, head over to the Forest Home Cemetery where you will find the burial grounds of Milwaukee’s beer barons Jacob Best, August Krug, Joseph Schlitz, Valentine Blatz and Frederick Pabst. Forest Home offers self-guided tours of this 200-acre cemetery.
Take a step back in time when you journey through more than 150 years of brewing history at one of the nation’s brewing giants, MillerCoors. The hour-long, FREE tour walks guests from the historic, underground caves where Frederick Miller cooled his brew to the modern, high-speed production lines that crank out some of the most popular beer in the U.S. Enjoy a few samples after the tour in the historic, Bavarian-style Miller Inn.
Grab a cold brew upon arrival at the Lakefront Brewery and enjoy quirky guides who serve up belly-busting laughs on what TripAdvisor.com ranks as the fourth best brewery tour in the nation. This progressive, award-winning brewer is the first beer company to bottle fruit beer since prohibition and the first beer to be certified gluten-free in the U.S.
Find a modern twist on old-world brewing tradition at Sprecher Brewing Company, including a tasting in their Munich-style beer garden. Sprecher’s Black Bavarian is ranked one of the top American Beers in the country. Don’t drink? Don’t worry. Quench your thirst with the root beer ranked the best in the U.S. by the New York Times.
Share a passion for crafting and creating beer with the accomplished, home-brewer guides and “brewery scoundrels” at Milwaukee Brewing Company. Make sure to quiz the staff on the local lore behind creatively-named brews such as Polish Moon and Louie’s Demise and check out the brewery’s green initiatives, including its solar hot water system!
Make your way downtown for the Water Street Brewery tour. This local favorite, which is part brewery, part restaurant, boasts the production of 10.5 million glasses of beer. Water Street Brewery has three locations, Downtown, Grafton and Delafield. Call to make reservations for your tour.
For a new way to enjoy a brew, check out the Pedal Tavern, Milwaukee’s 16-person, bicycle-powered pub crawl on wheels! Create your own stops or have a Pedal Tavern guide assist you in selecting watering holes and restaurants in the Historic Third Ward and Walker’s Point neighborhoods. Sometimes it’s just enjoyable to sit outside and have a beer in the park. If that’s what you’re feeling, Milwaukee has an abundant offering of local beer gardens. Perfect for family outings, Estabrook Beer Garden is located along the Milwaukee River and exemplifies a true return to an era that disappeared with the start of prohibition.
If you’re in the charming Wauwatosa neighborhood, head on over to The Landing at Hoyt Park for a sip and a dip in the local pool. Finally, don’t forget about the newest addition to Milwaukee’s beer garden family! Opened in Summer 2014, Humboldt Park Beer Garden is operated by the Saint Francis Brewing Co., a local micro-brewery.
Craving a Sprecher brew? Travel around with the brewing company’s traveling beer garden. Careful, locations vary!
Don’t forget to check out Sugar Maple and Romans’ Pub, both ranked on the list of Top 100 Beer Bars by Draft Magazine.
End your booze cruise around town with a trip to one of Milwaukee’s local craft distilleries! New in 2014, Central Standard Craft Distillery has some of the best cocktails in the city. The industrial, yet comfortable feel makes patrons feel right at home at the bar. Tasting flights and tours are available, but if you do nothing else, take a sip of the lavender gin cocktail.
Also, located in the up-and-coming Walker’s Point neighborhood, Great Lakes Distillery is Wisconsin’s original small-batch distillery. Great Lakes is known for its wide variety of unique spirits, which are available to sample along with a distillery tour for $7.