The history of brewing (and building breweries) in Milwaukee
General View of Schlitz Brewery
More than any other industry, brewing beer has been central to Milwaukee’s identity since the early 1840s when the first breweries formed.
These early breweries were primarily small artisanal shops, sometimes associated with a nearby saloon, beer hall, or restaurant--similar to today’s brewpubs. Many of the breweries were located along the Milwaukee River, which provided water for the brewing process as well as ice for conditioning the beer. They were small, one- or two-story wood-frame structures which housed not only the entire brewing process but the residence of the brewer and their family.
Best’s South Side Brewery ~1843-1908
In the 1850s major manufacturers like Pabst (then known as Best), Schlitz, Blatz, Miller, and Gettelman emerged and later began exporting to the Chicago population. This increased demand prompted brewers to expand their plants in order to introduce the latest in mechanized brewing technologies. A key feature of the new industrial breweries was the separation of the brewing process into different buildings for malting, brewing, fermenting, storage, and packaging.
Early Pawling & Harnischfeger hoist cranes in a Schlitz brewery
By the 1870s Milwaukee’s major industrial brewers were serving not only the regional markets but the national and international markets as well. Milwaukee brewers adopted “scientific brewing”—using pasteurization techniques and chemistry formulas—and were among the first to introduce mechanized production systems, bottling machinery, and artificial refrigeration.
Hand-colored postcard of the interior of the Schlitz Palm Garden
Menu from the Gargoyle Resturant
Milwaukee’s brewer’s also purchased and built beer gardens and beer halls, hotels, restaurants, theaters and even amusement parks. They created notable destinations like the Schlitz Palm Garden and the Pabst Gargoyle Restaurant, and their homes and factories remain in the city today.
Brewing | Encyclopedia of Milwaukee— https://emke.uwm.edu/entry/brewing/
“This is what made Milwaukee Famous” - Greetings from Milwaukee: Selections from the Thomas and Jean Ross Bliffert Postcard Collection, Archives. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.
All other images from the Wisconsin Historical Society www.wisconsinhistory.org