Old Pabst Brewery gets new life as beer lover's dream hotel

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by Nate Kuester

MILWAUKEE -- In 1996, the pabst brewing complex shut down. Suddenly ending production of one of the most iconic American beers at the facility. Now a unique hotel experience awaits the beer enthusiast.

"[The hotel is] Housed in the former Pabst brewery building," said Brewhouse Inn & Suites general manager Peter Northard.

That's where you'll find the Brewhouse Inn and Suites, in the heart of Milwaukee. The brewery facility is now home to a truly unique hotel experience that celebrates the beer-crafting history.

"The building was actually built in 1882," said Northard. "So this operated from 1882 to 1996 as the building in the Pabst complex of Milwaukee, that is actually where they brewed the beer."

The amount of restoration and work to preserve the original life of the building is obvious from the amazing stained glass window--depicting King Gambrinus, to the brewing equipment still present, to the overall feel right from the moment you walk throught the front door.

"We actually took 1,530 bottles of beer, that our construction crew graciously agreed to empty for us, [and] we cut the bottoms off of them," said Northard. "And we put those on the fromt of the front desk. So that way, it looks very much like a bar with 1,530 bottoms of beer bottles."

Elements from the brewery appear even in the most unlikely of places.

"We basically took this old growth lumber, that was used for beams, and we repurposed it to all the kitchen tables in the guest rooms as well as the tables in our Jackson's Blue Ribbon pub," said Northard.

Of course, if you're going to re-purpose the old Pabst brewery, then you have to have your priorities straight as to what you are going to include. And Northard told CBS 58 there wes no question about i where the priority stood.

"A bar was number one,"he said." "It was essential. It had to be. You cannot reopen the Pabst brewhouse without a bar, serving Pabst Blue Ribbon."

The work to preserve the former glory of the facilty, in its new incarnation, carries particular appeal for those who knew the brewery in it's past life. That's apparent when you visit Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub, located in an area that was once referred to as the 'blue room.'

"We have Pabst workers, former Pabst workers come in here all the time," said Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub co-owner Mark Zierath. "Actually current workers as well. And they're all just completely blown away by the space. ... It's great to hear the history of these buildings, and how they once produced the great beer here."

"To hear the stories that they tell about their times in the brewhouse, and just to see in their eyes how they're kind of reliving a lot of the past, has just been a really great thing to witness," said Northard.

"Everyone knew someone who worked at Pabst, or had a relative that worked at Pabst, and that's the beer I drank when I came of age," said Zierath.

The unique hotel, owned by Wisconin's Gorman & Company, Inc., recently won a national 'Timmy' award -- acknowledging their work for rehabilitating the historic buildings at the pabst complex. you can find out more information about the brewhouse inn & suites here.

 

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