Two years ago in October I took a historic bus tour of Milwaukee. It was sponsored by a local museum and let me say I was the youngest there by FAR. Any way it served the purpose of giving me a base knowledge about Milwaukee. I enjoyed the tour and now have some things on my bucket list from the tour. I know it’s been two years but with blog food ever needing to be made I’ve motivation to do them now.
It was on this tour I learned more about the beer and Wisconsin connection. Not that it is a surprise to me or any one, but the area was settled by people of Germanic heritage. As Octoberfest recently proved yet again – Germans love beer. When they got settled one of the the businesses they quickly established was breweries. Many of these are still nationally known today even if some are now defunct as brewers. Two of those are Schlitz and Pabst who now exist as virtual brewers. Meaning that they don’t actually have a brewery any more they contract another brewer to brew and put their label on it. Schlitz old brewery in Milwaukee is now a complex of offices. True one as seen above still has the horses heads and logo of the stable maintained in lovely condition. The Pabst facilities remain vacant however. Miller is now huge, no longer American owned (only national brewer that is American owned is Sam Adams) but chugging along as a conglomerate and brewery.
Back in the day bars in Milwaukee and surrounding areas down to Chicago were owned by the breweries. So if you wanted say a PBR you went to the Pabst bar, a Malt Liquor Bull the Schlitz bar, to live the High Life the Miller bar and so on. Many of these bars of the late 1800s and early 1900s were built with distinct design to make them easy to recognize by their patrons. Two of those designs survive in Racine a Pabst one just across from a Schlitz one. On one of our drives out in the Mustang we stopped by them so I could get their pictures.
The Pabst one is my favorite. It looks just like a castle. Currently it has beer signs in the in the windows including a Miller Lite one in the big front window (sacrilege) . However there were no indications it was an operating business. There were no hours on the door nothing. Still the building is well maintained. That’s more than can be said for the original Pabst brewery right now.
The Schlitz one is just across the street. It’s distinctive but right next to the castle Pabst it does pale in comparison for uniqueness. Best I could tell by looking around it and walking the side walk is that it is now apartments. The Schlitz sign is not original but is nice to be there to still commemorate the original purpose of the building. As for the green it’s not my taste but I won’t go as far as to say it wasn’t original. Many of the paint schemes used then were very colorful and not combinations we’d choose today or even call tasteful today.
That’s just a view to the long roots beer has around here. I’ve added a few shots from the Milwaukee tour that were beer related to finish out this post. As always if you want to see more photos of the buildings or from the tour click on the images and surf my Flickr account – Until next time!