By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 01, 2020 at 10:14 AM

For the second time, the Pabst Brewing Company is leaving Milwaukee.

The brewer announced today that the Captain Pabst Pilot House, 1037 W. Juneau Ave., located in Milwaukee’s Brewery District – which occupies the original Pabst Brewery complex – will close for good in December.

The brewing system – which was making 4,000 barrels a year – located on the lower level will be moved to Pabst’s now-headquarters of San Antonio.

Pabst shuttered its brewery here in 1996 after 152 years.

The current iteration opened in spring 2017 in a former church building that was once part of the original Pabst Brewery.

“This has been an extremely difficult year for all hospitality and tourism businesses, and it has been no different for the Captain Pabst Pilot House,” said Pabst Brewing Company General Manager Matt Bruhn.

“Unfortunately, with no signs of the business improving, the company has come to the difficult decision to close the Captain Pabst Pilot House operation effective Dec. 21.”

Pabst took the long-empty former First German Methodist Church – which had also been home to the popular Forst Keller German restaurant and later served as a training center for Pabst – and cleaned up its gorgeous exterior and renovated the interior into a lovely space.

But it struggled from the beginning, opening with a full kitchen but quickly scaling back its food service. Under current general manager Adam Powers, the re-branded Captain Pabst Pilot House, had transformed into a music venue and a launch site for a new line of Captain Pabst-branded beers.

Years of ongoing construction on a conversion into apartments of the adjacent former malt house, which often led to blockages on Juneau Avenue also likely didn't help matters.

And then the pandemic hit.

“This is an amazing space,” said Powers. “It’s a sad day for me, my team and Pabst lovers here in Milwaukee. But it’s my sincere hope that once we move beyond the pandemic, that someone with a love of Milwaukee brewing history will work to make this facility a thriving, viable business moving forward.”

The building is not owned by Pabst, but rather by the Milwaukee-based Blue Ribbon Management, which owns other buildings in the neighborhood, including the Eleven25 project in the former Pabst bottling house.

(Correction: Blue Ribbon does NOT own the building in which Brewhouse Inn and Suites is located.)

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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 has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.