Russ Klisch

Russ Klisch


Lakefront Brewery

1872 N. Commerce Street, Milwaukee

Industry: Brewing

Russ Klisch gave his brother a book on how to brew beer. The brothers competed with each other to see who could brew the better beer.

Convinced he had developed a beer that could sell, Klisch eventually opened his own brewery, Lakefront Brewery Inc.

Klisch started his first brew house in a former bakery just down the street from his childhood home. Production grew steadily for the first few years and subsequently production began to double in the years following.

Klisch manufactured his own bottling machine and soon his business outgrew the former bakery.

The brewery then moved to a larger location on Commerce Street on the Milwaukee River near downtown Milwaukee. In 2000, a real brew house was added to the building with production continuing to increase to 11,000 barrels by 2008.

Lakefront claims to be the first brewery to bottle fruit-flavored beer since Prohibition. The brewery’s popular “Cherry Beer” became a staple and expanded the market for fruit flavored beers.

Klisch also produced the first U.S. labeled organic beer by using 100 percent organic malt and hops and then started a partnership with Wisconsin farmers to begin growing organic hops within the state.

Klisch also wanted to produce and sell a gluten-free beer. So he persuaded the government to alter the original qualifications stating that a beer must contain 25 percent malted barley.

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism named Lakefront Brewery the first brewery in the state and the first business in Milwaukee to receive the ‘Travel Green Wisconsin’ certification which honors businesses that are reducing their environmental impact.

Klisch is a hands-on type of leader and continues to give tours of the brewery every Friday afternoon.

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