As they approach the Brewhouse Inn and Suites, they might well wonder just where they are going to be sleeping. Could this possibly be a hotel? The answer is: yes, it is, in what was once the largest brewery in the world.
From the outside, the building and its surrounding Milwaukee neighborhood may still reflect the decaying glory of the brewery’s heyday—long blocks of artfully dingy brick factory buildings, boarded up loading docks and leaded glass windows letting scraps of sun into what were once the brewery’s offices—but inside it’s all about edgy luxury. The rooms’ soaring ceilings, exposed beams and vaulted windows are reminders of the site’s original purpose. Decorative details like vanity stools covered in burlap reading “Milwaukee Malt Company” do the same. It’s here that Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was made for more than 100 years.
It’s no challenge to find a can of Pabst, a beer that has been rediscovered by a generation of hipsters. But those looking for something more than just sips of trendy beer, those who want to see an original American industrial dream, need to stay in this hilltop shrine.
And anyone who seeks the patron saint of beer brewers will find him as well. At one end of the hotel’s multi-story foyer sits King Gambrinus in jolly, stained-glass splendor. He benevolently toasts a row of copper-topped vats that once held the famous brew, but which are now just gorgeous relics of a different time. The addition of velvet couches makes this a relaxing place to raise a glass (or a can).
Visitors who need something to accompany their beer should stop to sample the deep-fried cheese curds at Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, to the left of the hotel’s lobby. The pub offers 13 Wisconsin beers on tap, although drinking them might seem a little disloyal.
Mara Gorman is an award-winning freelance writer, author of The Family Traveler's Handbook, and blogger at The Mother of all Trips. When she's not on the road with her two school-age sons and husband, you can find her in Delaware. Follow her adventures on Twitter @motherofalltrip.
MORE SUMMER TRAVEL QUESTS
15) Sleep in a (Former) Brewery