Aug 7, 2018

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Hello Wisconsin !

Hello Wisconsin !

So after seven plus years of doing this website, I figured I might as well visit the beer homeland of Milwaukee. It’s funny because I planned on going for many years now and even last year, I totally missed out on the Beer Bloggers conference that was held in Milwaukee! Talk about missing the train haha.

Also just a warning, this might be one of the longest articles Ive ever written, so grab a beer…

About a year ago after missing the conference, I made a pact with myself that I would drive out to Milwaukee for a few days and check out all the sites of the old school breweries, and this year it actually worked out that it could happen. I decided to do it on the weekend of July 20-22 because my friends from my old car club were going to the Volkswagen car show at the Schlitz Park complex so why not bang out two events at once.

On the list of places I wanted to see was Schlitz Brewery, Miller Brewing Company, Pabst Church and Brewery, the Blatz former brewery which is now offices and condos, and other possible beer related things around if I had time.

I was also aiming to hit up other modern breweries like Lakefront, MKE, Good City and others like the Drink Wisconsinbly bar even but my friends arent super beer geeks like me so they would only want to do one or two breweries….so maybe next year?

I left Minneapolis around 5:30 am and made it to Milwaukee at about 10:30-ish? We went straight to Miller because I figured it would be hard to get on the tour on a Friday, ironically I was on the first tour and got right in. I decided to go to Miller because they are one of the biggest beer production companies in the country and they also brew Hamm’s there so it was a no brainer. They also have a lot of brewing history in the city so why not?

The brewery itself was big but not as big as I would have assumed for being who it was. They did have quite an operation going here though. The area was a couple city blocks and very visible from the highway with a giant Miller sign painted on the wall. Something I havent seen before was beer being transported over the street in a skyway from the packaging to the warehouse, which you could see from down below. After the brewhouse portion, they took us into the old caves of the Plank Road Brewery which made for some good pictures. I told the younger kid giving us the tour that the 90’s emo band The Promise Ring, who are from Milwaukee, did a song called Watertown Plank after I noticed the Watertown Plank Road plaque on the outside of the caves. He of course never heard of the band and said he would look it up. Just trying to spread musical genius to the youth haha.

We ended the tour with samples of beer in an old reception area/bar, and surprisingly they didn’t give us any Highlife samples which seemed to be the theme of the tour and cave, they even mentioned how it’s the oldest beer they still brew at this location but yet no Highlife samples…odd. Then it was onto the gift shop! They had a bunch of stuff but I ended up getting, you guessed it, Hamm’s stuff. There was more in the shop than on the website which I thought was weird because more people are online shoppers these days.

I almost bought a Coors Wolf shirt but balked at it because I wasnt too familiar with it. I know he was in ad’s with Elvira back in the 80’s-90’s but still I wasnt in the mood to explain it to people while wearing the shirt when I wasnt an expert on the topic.

So to kill time before the hotel check in I stopped off at the Bronze Fonz statute (Ayyy) and the Harley Museum. I then drove to the former Blatz buildings to see the complex. I took a few shots of the buildings from the outside but did not go in. I mainly thought it would’ve been locked up for the weekend and also because it is a private residence and it wouldn’t happen.

I did write an article about the renovation years ago and wanted to check out the glass bottle doors for myself but figured it was not too much of a loss not seeing them. Speaking of which it turned out my hotel was a few blocks from Leinenkugelgel’s 10th Street Brewery so I drove around it to see the expansion. Sadly they did tear down most of the former Blatz buildings that were once there for the new expansion. If you want to see them you can actually still see the old buildings on google maps, so there’s that.

After I checked into my hotel I was on my own and took the hotel shuttle to Best Place Pabst so I could do some beer penance at the church haha. The tour itself was $10 and very much worth it. You got three beers (Andeker was great!) along with a very informative tour. You were free to walk around and check out the reception area building and gift shop before and after the tour. Let me tell you about the gift shop!

If you wanted a Pabst hat, shirt, sock, sticker, glass….you name it they have it. But unfortunately they only sell things on premise and they do NOT have a website. The reason for that is because the Best Place is not actually owned by Pabst, weirdly enough. They actually have better merch than Pabst themselves haha. I ended up getting a stained glass Pabst logo shirt, an old coaster and some stickers.

After the tour I hit up the church which was on the next block for some more beers that you don’t see in Minnesota and also to take, you guessed it, more pictures. I ended up sitting next to the dad of the girl who was working the bar and had some good conversation with him. I told him about the website and gave them all some of my stickers. I had one too many beers there but I had to try the Pabst APA and it was a tall boy and I was like ahh why did I drink another one haha. Luckily I woke up with not a big hangover so I lucked out.

The entire area around Pabst has been amazingly restored and is still being constructed with new condos and the Milwaukee Bucks training center/offices right down the street. Also one sidewalk has been made into a walking museum, which has the history of the brewery and artifacts under glass right in the sidewalk!

It’s now Saturday and it was the day of the car show and stupidly I forgot to take pictures inside the Brewhouse Inn which was right across the street from Pabst so I flew over there and snuck in to get some really good shots, if I do say myself, one of which you can see below. I got to the show, which had already started, and met up with people to take a look around the buildings, see the sites and imagine Laverne and Shirley walking to work haha. One of my goals of this trip was to go into the Brown Bottle to have a Schlitz and further seal my beer geekdom haha and that I did!

One thing that really caught me off guard was a sign on the grounds stating that the Schlitz Brewery was actually started by August Krug in 1849 and Joseph Schlitz was actually the bookkeeper of the brewery. Two years after August died in 1856, Joseph Schlitz managed to marry his widow and then named the brewery after himself! But all that would catch up to him in 1875 when Schlitz was on his way back from Germany after a visit, his boat hit a rock near Cornwall England and sank. The brewery then transfer hands to the Uihlein brothers, nephews of August Krug. Karma baby.

After a couple of hours at the show, I parted ways with my car geeks and started the voyage back to Minnesota but not before I stopped off at the forbidden brewery of New Glarus haha. I got into town and checked into my hotel and just sat down and looked what time the brewery closes at and saw it was ….5pm?? It was now 4:15 at this time, so I blasted over there to get in before close. I didn’t realized it’s actually not a taproom but more of a tour facility/store/brewery. I actually did have enough time to walk around and take pictures but I got there right at the end and it was still busy. The brewery is quite impressive, and amazingly clean for the amount of foot traffic it sees in the hallways since they allow people to wander free around inside – go and check it out sometime.

Afterwards I decided I was hungry so I went into town and had a pizza and beer at Ticino pizzeria. I wasnt gonna do it but decided, “hell, I’m here” so I got the Spotted Cow afterall haha. It was actually pretty good being on tap right in the middle of town. Everyone blows this beer up like it’s Gods water because its not available in MN but it was nice after a long drive.

I was done eating I walked back to the hotel because it was fairly close and I noticed there was a liquor store right next to the hotel so I went in and ended up buying a beer from Switzerland! New Glarus is a Swiss town so why not stock some Swiss beer right? The beer was Appenzeller Holzfass by Brauerei Locher and I waited to try it til I was back home and let me say it was well worth the wait.

I was going to actually drive through LaCrosse on the way back up and over on Sunday to check out the World’s largest Six Pack and maybe stop at the Ye Old Style Inn bar but wimped out mainly cuz I was really tired of driving (even though I used to drive for a living haha) but also had an event to get to involving BBQ and beer so I couldnt miss that.

So all in all I would say it was a successful trip, very quick and jam packed with events, but a successful one. I am no longer a poser old school Wisconsin beer fan! Next time I will definitely set time aside for the new must see craft breweries in Milwaukee so I can get mad street cred from the kids haha. I want to thank everyone I talked to, hung out with, bought me beers and gave me directions when I was confused on where things were around town. Afterall, even though our football teams seem to hate each were are all beer loving cousins from another border haha. Goodbye Wisconsin !

P.S. If you are not following me on Instagram, you should! I have a big portion of the pictures I took on this trip posted there along with all the facebook post pictures too.

Land of Sky Beer Waters Instagram account



























































































































































































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