The Original Brew City
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.
Since 1840, Milwaukee and brewing have gone together like barley and hops. And it’s certainly true that the contemporary city wouldn’t be what it is today without the beer barons of our past. Today, that industry is buoyed by MillerCoors as well as dozens of craft brewers, and ancillary businesses that sell the tools and ingredients necessary to make our beloved suds.
If you like PBR, you’ll love Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery. It’s a retro-cool tour that 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.
Built in 1892, The Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion is the only fully-restored beer baron’s home in America. This showplace was the gathering place of Milwaukee’s privileged elite and it’s easy to imagine yourself as a guest at one of the Captain’s legendary private parties. From the stunning woodwork of the grand master staircase to the sparkling crystal chandelier in the dining room, the elegant interiors are a testament to the wealth and power of the Pabst family.
Visit three of Milwaukee’s four famous beer barons – Pabst, Schlitz and Blatz – at the Forest Home Cemetery. Nestled on 72 tranquil, park-like acres, Forest Home is where a “who’s who” list of Milwaukee’s famous dearly departed have chosen to spend eternity. The “Beer Barons” corner features the mausoleums of these three brewing icons. To make your tour complete, head to Milwaukee’s Calvary Cemetery where you’ll find the final resting place of Frederick Miller.
You can also take a guided tour of Milwaukee's beer history with local experts! Fun Beer Tours combines history with beer on the Beer Capitol of the World tour that shows you the "big 4" (Miller, Schlitz, Pabst and Blatz) plus a variety of related historic beer sites with plenty of brews along the way. Milwaukee Food Tours also offers a Craft Breweries & Cocktails bus tour, and Untapped Tours takes the curious to fantastic craft breweries in the eclectic Riverwest neighborhood.
Brewery History: An Abbreviated Timeline
1840 – Owens’ Brewery (accepted as Milwaukee’s first commercial brewery) opens
1855 – Miller Brewing is founded by Frederick Miller
1871 – The Great Chicago Fire destroys many of the city’s breweries – Schlitz sends beer to Milwaukee’s southern neighbors, earning the nickname “the beer that made Milwaukee famous”
1893 – After showing at the Chicago World’s Fair, the highly-lauded beer known as Pabst Select is renamed Pabst Blue Ribbon.
1978 – The Pabst Mansion opens to the public as a house museum
1985 – Sprecher Brewery is founded, Milwaukee’s first craft brewery since Prohibition
1987 – Lakefront Brewery is founded
1997 – Milwaukee Ale House starts brewing
2006 – The Pabst Brewery complex is purchased and development begins to sustainably renovate the historic structures and revitalize the brewery complex
2007 – Due to demand, Milwaukee Ale House opens a dedicated brewery location: Milwaukee Brewing Company is born
2013 – The Brewhouse Inn & Suites opens in one of the historic Pabst Brewery buildings
2016 – More than 10 new craft breweries open – the craft beer boom is in full swing!
2017 – Pabst returns to Milwaukee with a craft brewery located near the historic brewery site