Milwaukee’s first brewpub has spent more than 30 years brewing its award-winning pints from the heart of the city’s historic entertainment district.


In Milwaukee, downtown Water Street is widely considered the epicenter of entertainment — an avenue just as iconic as Beale Street in Memphis or Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway. So it’s no surprise that Water Street Brewery is just as legendary as its flagship address.


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R.C. and Rick Schmidt opened Water Street Brewery at 1101 N. Water Street as the city’s very first brewpub in 1987, back when the concept of a bar brewing its own beer was practically unheard of. But the bar and restaurant quickly gained a legion of fans for its experimental brews and hearty quick bites. 


When Water Street Brewery first opened its doors, the owners set out to brew beer only slightly different from Budweiser or Miller Lite, the leading beers of the day. But over the years, with the rise of craft breweries, customers began to expand their beer palettes, leading Water Street Brewery to expand its brewing capabilities under the direction of its Master Brewer, George Bluvas.  


In the early 90s, Bluvas answered an ad to become a dishwasher at Water Street Brewery’s original location but always had the desire to get his feet wet in the brewing industry. Thirty years later, Bluvas continues to brew classic Water Street beers but said he likes to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s new in brewing culture.  


Today, guests will find six house brews on the menu, such as its classic Honey Lager Light, a rich, malty Oktoberfest and its sweet Raspberry Weiss — and a rotating stock of specialty beers. 


Since 1988 the brewpub has crafted over 90 different beer varieties and served up more than 84,000 barrels of beer including a very memorable chocolate-covered cricket stout. The brewery’s dedication and creativity have earned them more than 22 medals including at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and the North American Brewers Association in Idaho Falls. 


Visitors to Milwaukee can get a taste of Water Street Brewery’s taproom at the three currently open brewpub’s locations in nearby Oak Creek, Grafton and Lake Country. The location on Water Street is temporarily closed.


From the very beginning, the owners behind Water Street Brewery have given a nod to Milwaukee’s brewing tradition and industrial-era roots. Each of its locations features Cream City brickwork and turn-of-the-century factory design, including exposed steel beams and intricate woodwork. Guests will also get a peek into its brewing operations and massive copper fermentation tanks.  


But perhaps it’s better known for its extensive beer memorabilia collection. Inside each brewpub, guests will find walls stocked with antique beer cans from the city’s old beer giants, including Schlitz, Pabst and Blatz. The collection also highlights original beer tap knobs and handles, bottle and can openers, brewery lithographs, server trays and more than 100 rare neon signs — all from Wisconsin-area breweries. 


Whether you’re out on the town with friends or an out-of-town guest, we’re making it easy to swing by and sample Water Street Brewery’s legendary beers with our Brew City Beer Pass. Download our free digital pass and unlock BOGO offers for your next brewery adventure.