By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Sep 28, 2021 at 11:01 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

Soon you’ll be able to enjoy some of Wisconsin’s best brews alongside some of the state’s best burgers and fried chicken sandwiches.

That’s because Central Waters Brewing ha s partnered up with Dairyland Old Fashioned Frozen Custard and Hamburgers to provide a menu of beer-worthy fare at the brand’s forthcoming tap room in the former Pabst Pilot House at 1037 W. Juneau Ave.

Central Waters’ co-founders Anello Mollica and brewmaster Paul Graham shared their plans to establish a second brewery and tap room in the historic Pabst Complex with OnMilwaukee in June. At that time, they also shared that they were in conversation with a potential restaurant partner; but an agreement had not been finalized.

This week, that agreement was officially put into writing.

Dairyland is currently waiting on city approval in the form of licensure and inspections. But, if all goes well, they could be operational at the new brewery sometime in October.

Pabst Pilot HouseX

A classic Wisconsin pairing

Mollica says that, as Central Waters made plans for the new brewery space, they worked to envision the project from the consumers’ perspective.

“If I came to the brewery, I’d want to see two really great businesses that are truly collaborating in that space,” he says. “I’d want to see food that matches the quality of the beer.”

As it turns out, he found that match in Dairyland, the purveyor of beloved Wisconsin classics including burgers, chicken sandwiches (and soon… housemade custard).

“When I tried Dairyland for the first time, I was like ‘Get out of town!’...” Mollica says. “And the more I thought about it, they were a really good fit. Their food is amazing, but the people on their team are equally as compelling.” 

But the partnership didn’t happen overnight. In fact, when Mollica initially reached out to Dairyland to gauge their interest, Chef Kurt Fogle says that he and Dairyland partners Joe McCormick, Brent Fogle and Katie Fogle were hesitant. After all, they already had numerous irons already in the fire, including the opening of both Dairyland and Mid-Way Bakery at the 3rd Street Market Hall.

But, as the conversations progressed, they realized that the symbiosis between the brewery and Dairyland went far beyond a casual partnership.

“From there, it quickly shifted from a crazy idea to a collaboration with people who believe  in the same things that we do,” Fogle says. “They believe – as we do – that there are certain things that should be preserved. The Pabst Brewery district is one of those things. There’s so much history there, and it’s a place that shouldn’t be neglected or forgotten.”

McCormick, an avid beer fan and sometimes home brewer, nods in agreement.

“Like us, they’re crazy about Wisconsin and they were looking for partners who felt the same way that they do,” he says. “Sure, there are plenty of reasons to say ‘No we can’t do this;’ but in the end, there are far more advantages to doing it than not. This is about succeeding and growing together.”

Dairyland cheese curdsX

Beer-worthy fare

Fans of Dairyland can look forward to familiar favorites including classic hamburgers and cheeseburgers, plus patty melts and creations like The Whiz, a double burger with Wisconsin cheese sauce, brown mustard and fried onions.

Chicken sandwiches will run the gamut from grilled to fried with options like spicy and buffalo chicken, served standard with pickles and mayo or upgraded to Club status with shredded lettuce, tomato, bacon and American cheese.

In addition to favorite shareables like cheese fries, onion rings and deep-fried Wisconsin cheese curds, guests will also be able to order big soft Bavarian pretzels (with add-ons like cheese sauce or honey mustard) as well as a seasonal salads.

In classic Wisconsin fashion, Dairyland will also serve up their ultra-crispy Friday fish fry featuring three pieces of beer-battered wild Alaskan cod, French fries, buttermilk coleslaw and rye bread, along with their classic fish sandwich.

Once the 3rd Street Market Hall gets up and running, including Dairyland’s housemade custard production, Fogle says they also plan to roll out a selection of ice cream sandwiches made with Dairyland custard and Mid-Way Bakery cookies.

There are also likely to be collaborations, including beer floats; Mollica envisions one featuring Central Waters’ Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout.

“I think there are lots of opportunities for collaborations down the road,” he says. “In fact, we have a lot of pie in the sky dreams,” says Mollica. “I’ve already been in talks with Reese Malt Co. about making beer custard. We’d want to do it the right way, to really maintain the integrity and flavor of the beer.” 

As business picks up, Dairyland is also planning to offer beer-worthy brunch options at the brewery on weekends.

Dairyland, will be wrapping up service at their Oak Creek location on Oct. 1 (get there while you can!) in preparation for the launch of both Central Waters and the 3rd Street Market Hall, is also currently serving their menu of burgers and brunch at Zocalo Food Park, 636 S. 6th St.

You can follow them for updates @ilovedairyland on Facebook and Instagram.

You can also hear more about the secrets behind their burgers in this episode of the FoodCrush podcast.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.