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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Pabst Brewing Company Complex (Heritage Research photo, 2003)

Pabst complex, Offices & Visitors' Center (Heritage Research photo, 2003)

Pabst complex, Mill House (Heritage Research photo, 2003)

Pabst complex, Wood Working & Research Lab (Heritage Research photo, 2003)

Pabst Brewing Company Complex
807 W. Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County
Architects: Charles Hoffman and Otto Strack
Dates of contributing buildings: 1858-1953

The Pabst Brewery was the principal production facility for one of the largest brewers in the world. Founded in 1844 by Jacob Best and his sons, the brewery originally produced ale, porter and whiskey in addition to the lager beer for which it ultimately became famous. Former steamship captain, Frederick Pabst entered the business in 1864 following his marriage to the daughter of Phillip Best, who inherited the business from his father. Two years later, Captain Pabst became company president and, by 1868, the brewery was the largest in Milwaukee. In 1874, it had become the largest in the nation brewing 114,162 barrels of beer.

Late nineteenth century mechanical and scientific advancements - many of which were either pioneered or refined at the brewery - improved the consistency of beer and helped increase production. These included better carbonation techniques, the use of strains of yeast more suited to brewing, and the introduction of numerous devices such as barley washers, improved filters, hop extractors and bottling equipment. On March 18, 1889, the business was renamed in honor of Captain Pabst who had overseen an increase in production from fewer than 5,000 barrels in 1864 to over 500,000 barrels by 1889. In 1892, aided by aggressive promotion and a wide distribution network, the brewery became the first to produce over one million barrels of beer in a single year and stood as the largest lager brewery in the world. One of its most popular beers was its "Select" brand, which, with a blue silk ribbon tied to each bottle, served as the precursor of Pabst's trademark "Blue Ribbon" beer.

These staggering production increases necessitated the construction of numerous specialized industrial buildings at the brewery, including a brewhouse, malt house and bottling works. Many of these buildings feature elements like battlements and crenellated towers, which reflect the German origins of Captain Pabst and, generally, the Germanic character of late nineteenth century Milwaukee. The Pabst Brewing Company Brewery Complex occupies 18.4 acres near downtown Milwaukee.

The buildings are not currently open to the public.


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