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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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In Travel & Visitors Guide

The lobby of the Brewhouse Inn & Suites.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Not your typical hotel hallway.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Spiraling downward can be a good thing.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The room. Zero complaints.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Hail the patron saint of brew.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Jackson's fish fry goes well with Pabst.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Bird's eye view.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Pabst complex at night.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Recycle, reuse.

Brewhouse Inn offers outpourings of luxury, history


Perhaps the coolest part of staying at a hotel built inside a former brewery is that it really feels like you're staying at a hotel built inside a former brewery.

From the moment we walked into the Brewhouse Inn Suites – in the former Pabst brewhouse – we were swept up in brewing history.

At times, it actually felt like we were on a brewery tour instead of an overnight excursion in a brewery hotel. This is, in part, due to the seven brewing kettles which remain in the building and are the heart of the hotel.

Directly over the check-in desk, there's a kettle doubling as a polished dome in the ceiling and six more kettles stand in the atrium of the hotel.

Even though it has been more than 17 years since beer was actually brewed in the Pabst building – known as building #20 – the kettles give the space a very active, industrial feel, almost as if they might spontaneously fire up at any moment.

The atrium also features a large stained glass window depicting King Gambrinus, the unofficial patron saint of brewing, and an assortment of vintage furniture to pay homage to the brewski king, watch vintage Pabst commercials or just hang out in the history-rich splendor.

The hotel has 90 guest rooms that are either one- or two-bedroom suites. The sixth (top) floor features the Baron suites which have terraces and incredible views.

The rooms run between $189 and $399 per night and are designed for short- or long-term guests with an almost full kitchen stocked with a stovetop, full-sized fridge and an assortment of cooking and eating utensils.

"While the hotel was designed for guests staying longer than five days, it is a great location for girls' weekends, family gatherings, wedding groups and corporate groups looking for a unique hotel experience that speaks 'Milwaukee,'" says Sue Kinas of the Brewhouse Inn.

The steampunky decor includes exposed hardware, deep brown tones, distressed furniture and pipes repurposed as towel holders. Plus, the tables and headboards are made from wood originally harvested in Sheboygan in the 1880s.

There are plenty of modern luxuries, too. The bed, for example, was one of the most comfortable we've ever slept on and the shower was perfect in pressure and temperature.

Guests are also invited to a continental breakfast in the Blue Room, which was the brewery's break room that included beer taps. Today, Stone Creek coffee is served instead, but the centerpieces on the table are Pabst bottles used as vases for stalks of wheat.

Quite possibly the Brewhouse's best feature, however, is the number of windows. Originally constructed in 1882, the brewhouse required more than 300 windows at the time because the city had limited electricity. Today, the plethora of windows provide an incredible amount of natural light in the space and great views of Downtown.

"The Brewhouse is a one-of-a-kind property designed to celebrate the history of Milwaukee's brewing and reignite the passion of beer and remind everyone about Milwaukee's roots," says Kinas.

The Brewhouse Inn & Suites is on the National Registry of Historic Places and part of The Brewery, a sustainable neighborhood that is LEED Platinum certified.

The complex was purchased by Joseph Zilber in 2006. The $20 million construction project began in October 2011 and the hotel opened in late April 2013.

Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub – which was once the milling house known as building #21 – is connected to the hotel and offers a large selection of food items, including an excellent Friday night fish fry.

The space has 30-foot ceilings, a tin ceiling, large screens for game watching and a full bar. (Note the hilarity of the Pabst tapper, which was once a railing spindle and is massive in comparison to the others.)

The other appealing aspect of the Brewhouse is the location. The restored buildings – and those currently under construction – give the gritty, sprawling space a rush of warmth and fresh life. It feels both eerie and abandoned as well as urban and bustling.

Best Place, which once housed Pabst's offices, is located across the street from the hotel and is well worth a visit for beer drinking and more history. Building owner Jim Haertel gives an extremely entertaining tour.

And if you're not too Pabst-ed out, the Pabst Mansion – the 1892 home of Capt. Pabst – is just a mile away.

History buffs and beer geeks will most appreciate the experience because of their ability to access so much of Milwaukee's brewing history. The many artifacts and literature to examine make the hotel part museum.

"Guests interested in history, beer and an environment where they will be treated with customer service otherwise long gone will find The Brewhouse a delight," says Kinas.


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