A mere six months after owner Mike Doble announced a new Downtown brewpub for The Explorium, the venue is open.
The Explorium Brewpub had its soft opening at noon and there's a 3 p.m. ribbon cutting today, Friday, Sept. 25, in the Pritzlaff Building, 143 W. St. Paul Ave., Downtown. The building is part of the Historic Third Ward business association.
The first Explorium Brewpub opened in Southridge Mall in 2017.
In mid-July, I got a tour of the Downtown space for this Progress Report article.
Recent passersby could tell by the aroma wafting from the place as the built-out continued that the new 10-barrel brew system was up and running.
In addition to the onsite brewery, The Explorium has a large bar area, a dining room with tables and high-backed booths that allow for social distancing, plus an outdoor patio and a covered "Tunnel Bar" in an old tunnel that allowed rail cars to load and unload into the space when the building was home to the Pritzlaff Hardware Co.
There's also a cooler stocked with cans of beer to go.
Chef Amanda LaLuzerne, who worked at Distill and other area restaurants, is at the helm in the kitchen, and Ryan Burac, who worked at City Lights Brewing, is the brewer. The brewpub GM is Matt McCulloch, who had most recently been at La Merenda but also owned D14 Brewing in Bay View.
Burac says that he began brewing onsite the second week of August and that seven of the 22 beers on tap right now were brewed on the new system.
"Next week there will be two more," he says, "and there are more coming. I'm doing a schwartzbier, a black lager, that's about to go into the lagering tank."
That one should be ready in about three weeks.
In the meantime, the new brewpub is spacious and welcoming, and, less than two hours into its soft opening, already appears to be doing a pretty good business.
"Construction is so hard," says Doble. "It's nice to be done.
"Now it's on to the next one," he adds, jokingly ... or not.
The Downtown location opens daily at 11 a.m.
Just before it opened to the public, we stopped in for a look – and a deliciously nutty and malty Oktoberfest – at the finished space. Here's what we found:
Cans to go
Part of the dining area
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 episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," 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.