Things have really changed on the hill atop which Pabst Brewing Co. perched itself well over a century ago.
After the brewery went silent in 1996, much of the site looked neglected and like a no-go zone even as developers eyed it.
In 2006 Zilber Properties bought most of the site and set to work turning it around as The Brewery. And what a turnaround it’s been, especially in the past couple years, beneath the iconic Pabst Brewery bridge sign.
Now, there are apartments and condos and student housing, there are outposts of a number of institutions of higher learning, there are offices galore – including writer and director John Ridley’s recently opened No Studios – there’s a parking structure, hotels, bars and restaurants, a couple pocket parks and more on the horizon.
This guide offers a look at some of what the Brewery District currently has to offer visitors.
This weekend will be a great time to visit as the district hosts a Fruhling Fest – spring beer festival – on Saturday, May 25, with three stages of live music, local marker vendors and visual artists, food on offer from Brewery District restaurants, a beer garden and special beer tappings by Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom and Milwaukee Brewing Company.
Food & drink
901 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 630-1609
Owner Jim Haertel is a font of brewing knowledge and gives one of the best beer tours in the city. His complex, which served as Pabst’s headquarters, includes Capt. Pabst’s office, which forms part of the Best Place’s event space, an area that also has an evocative 19th century brewery style basement with vaulted brick ceilings. The tavern is the former tasting room and its courtyard is one of the, ahem, best places in town for a summer quaff. If you’re lucky, Jim might also show you around the 1850s schoolhouse – the oldest surviving public school building in the city – which is part of his complex.
Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub
1203 N. 10th St., (414) 276-7271
Located in the Brewhouse Inn and Suites hotel, the large Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub serves great burgers and other pub fare in a lively, sports-focused atmosphere that also includes a patio.
MKE Brewing Co./Glass + Griddle
128 N. 9th St., (414) 226-2337
One of the best craft brewers in town opened a new brewery last year in the hulking former Pabst distribution center. Combined with the Glass + Griddle restaurant, some office space and a self-storage facility on the lower level, this development has put a big, beautiful smile on what was once a faceless beast of a structure.
Pabst Brewery & Taproom
1037 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 908-0025
Pabst came home in 2015, opening a new brewery and taproom in the 1873 First German Methodist Church, which was later the famous Forst Keller restaurant and later a Pabst Brewery training center. The building has been completely renovated, cleaning decades of grime off the cream city brick outside and creating a stunning beer hall on the inside, with an innovation brewery crammed into the basement.
The Restaurants at Eleven25 at The Pabst
1125 N. 9th St., (414) 376-7300
This large student housing building occupies the sprawling former Pabst bottling plant. It boasts one of the best food halls around – open to the public – with stalls run by food truck stalwarts like Gouda Girls, Meat on the Street and Marco Pollo, and Huan XI Express and Coaches.
Brewhouse Inn and Suites
1215 N. 10th St., (414) 810-3350
The former Pabst brew house – an 1882 cream city brick gem – was transformed into a unique hotel, with some of Pabst’s original copper brew kettles surviving in its lobby. Jackson’ Blue Ribbon Pub is also on the property.
800 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 808-3880
Occupying a recently constructed, dedicated building, Hyatt Place Milwaukee Downtown offers great views toward the Downtown skyline and is across the street not only from Milwaukee Brewing Company and Glass + Griddle, but also from the Fiserv Forum. A lobby bar has a great patio for an al fresco cocktail, when the weather cooperates.
925 W. Juneau Ave.
This corner quad is lined on its street sides with trees and offers a nice open patch of sun-drenched grass for lazing on a blanket sucking up some rays, playing Frisbee with your furry pal, eating a picnic lunch or whatever floats your boat. There’s also a Bublr bike station. Along Juneau Avenue a series of vetrines set into the sidewalk celebrate the history of the site.
1217 N. 10th St.
Just north, on 10th Street, is the 10,000-square foot Zilber Park, which has a more intimate feel, being nestled as it is between structures. There are trees, brick-paved walkways and an ice wall, in season, of course.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.