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Milwaukee beer and brewing history destination opens at Grand Avenue

The Milwaukee County Historical Society will open a new location on October 4, Brew City MKE will be a place for people to learn about and participate in Milwaukee’s beer heritage.

Featuring a 2,700 square foot beer and brewing exhibit and a first-of-its-kind Milwaukee Beer Bar, Brew City MKE will be located on Wisconsin Ave. at Third St. in The Shops of Grand Avenue. The exhibit is a version of the successful 2016 beer and brewing exhibit at the Historical Society that proved to be very popular.

“With broad interest in beer across the nation, and with Milwaukee’s reputation as Brew City, it seems only natural that this city would become home to a Beer and Brewing Heritage Destination that explores Milwaukee’s deep beer and brewing roots,” said Ben Barbera, curator at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. “So it is a good opportunity for visitors to learn about the city’s heritage and drink beer at the same time.”

Brew City MKE will invite people to dive into this history through a combination of artifacts, text and images, interactive and audio-visual components, and hands-on opportunities. Visitors will be invited to enjoy a complimentary beer, with museum admission, during their experience and will end their visit by exiting into the bar area.

The bar, which will also be open to non-museum visitors, will have a retail section and a space for small programs to take place such as tap takeovers and “Meet the Brewer” events.

A range of strictly Milwaukee beers will be available with a rotating list representing many Milwaukee breweries.

“Brew City MKE is a unique destination, because it merges the past and the present into one experience,” said Mame McCully, executive director of the Milwaukee County Historical Society. “Milwaukee has deep beer and brewing roots and the stories are interesting, but the great thing is that this story is still unfolding.”

Milwaukee, like many cities, has had a boom of new microbreweries over the last few years. But this is not new to Milwaukee. This first occurred 175 years ago when breweries like Miller, Pabst, Schlitz, and Blatz were established, and thirty years ago when microbreweries like Sprecher Brewing and Lakefront Brewery opened.

Visitors to Brew City MKE will understand this rich culture while enjoying a very authentic Milwaukee experience.

“We are excited to offer an innovative and interesting way for people to enjoy Milwaukee’s history and beer and brewing culture,” added McCully. “The venue allows us to reach a broader audience in a new way. And the opportunity to share this with people is what I am looking forward to the most about this project.”

Brew City MKE will be a one-year pilot project, with the hope that it can be continued and more exhibits can be added over time.

“We are delighted to have Brew City MKE and know it will be a valued part of the redevelopment of Wisconsin Avenue and The Shops of Grand Avenue,” said Tony Janowiec, Co-Owner of The Shops of Grand Avenue. “We believe it will bring positive traffic and attention to this area of town and fits perfectly into the redevelopment plans for the The Shops of Grand Avenue and West Wisconsin Avenue.”

Community support is essential to Brew City MKE. The original exhibit was presented by Miller Brewing Co. and also had the support of Pabst Brewing Co. and Sprecher Brewery. All have continued their support in efforts to help preserve and share the beer and brewing collections owned by the Milwaukee County Historical Society with the public. The Shops of Grand Avenue and Quorom Architects are key supporters in making this new Milwaukee destination a reality.

After the official opening ceremony, Brew City MKE will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Hours may change depending on the response from the public.

The Milwaukee County Historical Society was founded in 1935 to collect, preserve and make available materials relating to the history of the Milwaukee community. The Society strives to be a place for community and visitors to learn about and to celebrate Milwaukee.

About The Author

Lee Matz

Former Creative Director and Photojournalist for the Milwaukee Business Journal, Lee brings his years of international experience as a foreign correspondent in Asia and Europe. His list of awards include top honors from the Milwaukee Press Club. Lee proudly uses MCTS as the exclusive mode of transportation for covering all his news reports.

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