Pabst to return to former Milwaukee brewery


Pabst Brewing Co. will return to where it began with plans to open a small brewery, tasting room, restaurant and bar at the former Pabst Brewery complex in downtown Milwaukee.

Blue Ribbon Management LLC will redevelop the former First German Methodist Church building, located at the southeast corner of West Juneau Avenue and North 11th Street, for Pabst Brewing Co. A letter of intent has been signed by Pabst and a multi-year lease is expected to be signed by Aug. 15.

Pabst expects to open the new brewery to the public next summer.

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Eugene Kashper, chairman and CEO of Pabst Brewing, announced the plans on Wednesday at the brewery complex. A partnership between Kashper and a San Francisco-based investment fund purchased the company late last year.

“The launch of this brewery in Pabst’s original home represents a long-awaited return to our roots,” Kashper said. “Milwaukee is our home. The Pabst Mansion, the Pabst Theater, Pabst Farms, and this beautiful brewery complex, these are all part of Frederick Pabst’s amazing legacy, which we are honored to continue by returning to our hometown and birthplace.”

Pabst, founded in 1844, shut down the Milwaukee brewery in 1996. The company is now based in San Antonio and currently outsources the production of its beers. Pabst has more than 30 beers in its portfolio, including Pabst, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, Old Style, Stroh’s and Blatz.

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“The company has an amazing portfolio of heritage brands,” Kashper said.

The new Pabst brewery in Milwaukee will be able to produce “a couple thousand” barrels of beer a year, Kashper said, which is not enough for national distribution, but the beers will be available to consumers on site and at stores locally. The brewery will produce the company’s iconic pre-prohibition brands such as Old Tankard Ale, Kloster Beer, Bock and Andecker, and will use recipes from the Pabst archives to create new craft beers.

“Our new products will all be about resurrecting forgotten recipes and transforming them to our time,” Kashper said. He said Pabst has “hundreds” of recipes in its archives. Creating new craft beers with those recipes should appeal to consumers’ growing desire for craft beers, he said.

“Our brews will symbolize the historic progression of beer styles throughout our 171 year relationship with Milwaukee’s beer lovers,” said Greg Deuhs, Pabst master brewer. “We are looking forward to partnering with local residents and businesses and engaging with this community that has been so supportive and loyal to us over the years.”

The venue will offer visitors brewery tours, historic memorabilia, a tasting room, a beer garden and a reatuarant/bar. The restaurant and bar will be operated by Mike Eitel, who owns Nomad World Pub on Brady Street and is co-owner of Lowlands Group.

After Pabst closed its Milwaukee operation in 1996, the brewery remained vacant until Zilber Ltd. founder Joseph Zilber acquired it in 2006 and began a redevelopment project to transform the former brewery into a mixed-use neighborhood. Several of the buildings in the complex have been sold to other developers for redevelopment projects.

This will be the third building project at the former Pabst brewery complex for Blue Ribbon Management LLC. The firm built the Pabst Professional Center, a new office building with 42,000 square feet of leasable office space, and is redeveloping the 237,000-square-foot former Pabst Bottling Building into an international student housing facility.

“We could not have found a more fitting partner for the old Pabst brewery complex,” said Ying Chan, president of Blue Ribbon Management. “Pabst is finally coming home and will be in the same complex it occupied so many years ago. We are thrilled to be a part of the revival of Milwaukee’s brewing heritage.”

The former First German Methodist Church building has a 3,040-square-foot lower level, that once housed the Forst Keller Restaurant, and a 3,020-square-foot upper level, which was originally the church sanctuary and later was used by Pabst as employee assembly space. Pabst bought the building and converted it to a restaurant and tavern in 1898.

The lower level space will be used by Pabst for the brewery and tasting room and the upper level space will be used for the bar and restaurant, Kashper said.

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