On this fine day we hit the road towards Milwaukee with a loose plan to check out Pabst and some other breweries. We were in for a serious surprise. I should also note that we got turned around and ended up doing a nice scenic drive of Milwaukee’s ghettoest ghetto. We fit right in though with our surfboards and NJ plates.
We found an address for some kind of Pabst tour so headed over there. It was closed when we arrived but we seemed to have arrived in a Pabst ghost town. There were lots of abandoned buildings and Pabst signs all over the place.
Then we drove past a place called The Brewhouse that appeared to be a hotel of some sort. It was also dinner time and we had dome some research on the TV Food Maps site for a place to eat dirty food in the vicinity. Turned out the Old German Beer Hall was just down the road from Pabstland.
This place was obscene, a straight up replication of the Hofbrau House in Germany. Giant liter mugs of beer, big tables in the back and tons of Hofbrau beer on tap. Oh
yeah, and they were playing weirdo German polka folka music. Some contests this establishment hosts:
- The Beer Races – 1st person to drink 100 liters of beer gets a trip to Germany. Current record is 45 days
- One Month and Overall # of Liters Champions – One month woman was at 25 liters while the overall leading beer swilling scumbag was around 1900 liters which converts to 500 GALLONS.
Our meal consisted of bratwurst made at the sausage factory (insert snickers here) across the street followed up with currywurst and a gigantic pretzel with a dipping sauce of brie, cream cheese, onions and some other goodies. Needless to say, we wished the hotel windows weren’t sealed shut the next morning.
After consuming our share of deliciousness and reserving a room in The Brewhouse we made our way up to the place and were BLOWN AWAY. Quick background: Pabst suddenly shuttered their operation in Dec 1996. When the workers punched the time clock that day, everything was just frozen in time, nothing touched, left as is. Fast forward to 2011 and some local chap bought the entire 20 acre campus and started a neo-Victorian/steam punk revival of the whole area and called it The Brewery. The cornerstone of this project is the hotel we stayed in which had literally just opened – you could still smell the paint. But this hotel was actually the old brewery. And they kept all kinds of cool shit like the giant copper kettles and a
20 foot stained glass window of King Gambrinus, the patron saint of breweries (I’m not making this up). The kettles were on the 2nd floor but they opened the bottom of the kettles so on the first floor you could see inside them since they had lights inside. They also had a spiral staircase that disappeared into the ceiling. If Magic Hat was like being in Willy Wonka’s factory, this was like being down the rabbit hole with Alice, WILD.
Then it really got screwy. The second floor was an open floor plan up to the fifth floor with walkways running along the sides up and down and across the whole thing with the giant copper kettles running the length. As we were poking around, a lady yells down from the third floor asking us to check something out.
Suddenly a handful of dancers show up on the walkway up top and start dancing to an old Pabst commercial playing in the background. Some kind of Great Gatsby flapper dance while pretending to drink Pabst at certain points during the song. Tyler and I could only look at each and shake our heads wondering what we had stumbled on. Later on, when we asked the front desk who these Pabst gypsies were, they claimed to know nothing. VERY weird and also excellent.