by Andrea Guthmann
Looking for a taste of old Milwaukee? Opened in April of 2013, Brewhouse Inn & Suites celebrates Milwaukee’s best — its beer-brewing heritage — in a unique hotel. A Pabst Blue Ribbon beer brewery from 1882 to 1996, it spent many years as an abandoned building, and has now been transformed into a boutique hotel. The six-floor property has kept many of the brewery’s original features, including brickwork, tiles, arched doorways, spiral staircases and the iconic copper beer brewing kettles.
If you’re a history buff or a beer lover, this building has a delicious tale. The hotel is actually made up of two buildings: the brew house and the adjacent mill house. The brew house, built in 1877, houses the main hotel area and check-in, while the hotel’s restaurant lies in the former mill house, built in the 1880’s.
From the moment you walk in, you’ll be charmed by the unique design and detailed craftsmanship used to take a dilapidated factory building and repurpose it into a luxurious modern hotel. Placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 2001, great effort was taken to maintain and restore the building’s original “Cream City” bricks, which were seen everywhere in Milwaukee in the 19th century.
Plenty of other historic details have been painstakingly preserved. Valets greet guests at the original grand spiral staircase, with its intricate metal railings of handcrafted hops. While you wait at check-in, you’ll be looking up into two of the original copper brew kettles. An impressive two-story stained glass window of King Gambrinus, the patron saint of beer, raising his glass in a friendly toast, has been masterfully restored. Overnighting here is a unique opportunity to experience historic preservation at its finest.
The building’s brewing heritage is celebrated throughout the hotel, from the blue Pabst factory shirts worn by staff, to the beer bottles whimsically used as vases in the breakfast area. TV monitors throughout the building run multimedia presentations about the history of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Kids will get a kick out of seeing the old Pabst Blue Ribbon TV commercials from the 1950’s.
While history here has been well preserved, guests will appreciate the stylishly updated design and decor of the hotel. Hip furnishings with a nod to the Victorian era create charming public sitting areas throughout the hotel. Unique artistic details are also on display. You’ll be saying cheers when you check in at the front desk, fashioned from more than 1,500 recycled beer bottles.
While this isn’t a family-focused hotel, its hip design and modern decor make the Brewhouse Inn a good choice for families with teens, who will likely be thrilled to take a family vacation in such a cool and trendy hotel. I’ll drink to that!
Our Editor Loves
- Unique decor
- Historic hospitality
- Complimentary shuttle to Milwaukee Brewers games
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Families will appreciate that each room in this all-suite hotel, intended for extended stays and vacationers, has a full kitchen, featuring an electric stovetop, microwave, full size refrigerator, dishwasher and Keurig coffee maker, plus a living area. Although this isn't the most kid-friendly hotel (there's no pool or kids club), it is a unique Milwaukee hotel experience. Getting a close-up view of the craftsmanship and artistry used in this massive renovation is a treat for guests. Artfully mixing old and new, guests will find salvaged signs and repurposed wood in their rooms, standing next to 21st century amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi and luxury bathrooms.
The 90-room, all-suite hotel features studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom layouts. Each suite is unique, with no two layouts being the same. As a former factory, the suites are loft-like spaces with soaring 30-foot wood beam ceilings, and abundant natural light, and about a third of the suites have exposed bricks.
Standard studio rooms start at 350 square feet and come with one king or queen bed. One-bedroom units have a separate bedroom with double doors that can be left open to enlarge the space. One-bedrooms have a king bed and a pull out sleeper sofa in the living area, or you can choose to have two queen beds. The divider glass doors are decorated to look like they are filled with bubbling beer, giving it a quirky stained glass-like effect, while still providing complete privacy for the two rooms. Other charming details are the headboards and tables made of repurposed wood, the hardware used in the bathrooms and several ways in which the Pabst logo and beer souvenirs are used throughout the rooms.
The two-bedroom suites have two king beds and a pullout double sleeper sofa in the living area. They also have two bathrooms, and like the one-bedrooms, have a full kitchen. There are also six Baron suites, which feature upgraded furnishings and outdoor terraces.
The hotel does not have rollaway beds, but there are complimentary cribs for guests. The one-bedrooms fit four guests, five if you have a child small enough to sleep in a crib. Two bedrooms sleep six, possibly as many as eight if you add cribs to the two bedrooms.
Bathrooms are modern with slate tile showers, but no bathtubs. They contain standard toiletries and a blow dryer.
Each room has a work desk and flat-screen HDTV. There are no safe deposit boxes in the rooms, but the front desk will gladly secure things in their safe deposit box for guests. Each room also has an iron and ironing board.
The service was exceptional. The rooms were well appointed with high ceilings and great views... oh, and the bathrooms were lovely. The remodel of this historic brewhouse was well done. We had a 2 bedroom 2 bath suite and another 1 bedroom suite. both had kitchens (not that we used them, but they were very nice with dishwashers too)
by Kory M
Everyone was very friendly. Very nice hotel, close to everything we wanted to visit. Be cautious if using a debit card with a daily limit. They processed card twice, so was declined
Take advantage of the valet, parking garage is a mess.
If you're looking for an array of kids' activities and character dining, you won't find it here. However, Milwaukee is a family-friendly city with plenty to make a vacation memorable. Just keep in mind that the Brewhouse Inn and Suites is not directly in downtown Milwaukee.
Surrounded by several other Pabst factory buildings that have also long been shuttered, this gritty neighborhood has gained the name "the Brewery." Milwaukee's a smaller, easily manageable city; everything seems to be only a five-minute drive away. Brewhouse Inn and Suites is only a mile from Milwaukee's charming RiverWalk. However, being in an industrial, abandoned factory district means just that -- massive, boarded-up buildings surround you, which doesn't make for a pleasant walk. Even though downtown and the RiverWalk are just a mile away, there's really nothing within easy walking distance.
A quick cab ride will get you to Milwaukee's charming RiverWalk or to the city's lakefront museum campus. Here, you'll find the architecturally impressive Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Santiago Calatrava. Get there at 10 a.m. or 5 p.m. to see the wings move on this modern masterpiece! Just south of the Milwaukee Art Museum is Discovery World, Milwaukee's world-class science museum. If you have little ones, head across the street to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum.
Complimentary continental breakfast is served until 10 a.m. There are hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruits and juices, yogurt, cereal, bagels and pastries ordered from a local bakery. Coffee is served 24 hours a day.
Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub
You'd hope a former beer brewery would have a cool bar on tap. Luckily, Brewhouse Inn does not disappoint. Adjacent to the lobby is the hip, yet friendly and welcoming 5,000-square-foot Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub, serving standard pub fare; mainly sandwiches, soups and appetizers, with a Wisconsin flare.
The bar serves a variety of microbrews, as well as better-known brands. The Wisconsin Cheese Curds appetizer is not to be missed, and there's live music on Friday nights. There's also an outdoor beer garden, where you can play a game of corn-hole.
Unfortunately, it's not the most kid-friendly bar/restaurant for the littlest ones. There are booster seats, but no high chairs or kid's menus.
Guests can order anything off the Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub menu for room service delivery.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
A limited number of Pack 'n Play cribs are available for guest use. Call ahead to reserve.
There are coin operated laundry machines, and soap can be bought in the lobby's small gift shop.
A small fitness center provides a place for indoor workouts.
The hotel provides complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property. You'll find two computers in the business center just off the lobby. Local calls from your room are free.
Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport is a 15- to 20-minute drive away. It's a $25 cab ride from the airport; public transportation is not an option.
Parking is ample, but city restrictions make it tough to leave a car throughout the day. During the day, the street in front of the hotel has meters, and adjacent blocks allow you to park for only one or two hours (depending on the block), before needing to move your car. Evenings, between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m., you'll find unlimited free parking, but you are supposed to have a Milwaukee parking permit to park. Tourists can apply for parking permits online before they arrive, but, as most guests won't have done that, the hotel offers valet parking at a rate of $26 for a 24-hour period. The city gives tickets to cars around the hotel -- trust me.
The hotel has a shuttle that is primarily used to transport guests to Milwaukee Brewers games, but it may be available to take guests to other nearby areas, such as the Historic Third Ward or Old World 3rd St. If the shuttle isn't available, it's a one- or 1.5-mile cab ride to these popular local areas. Being a former factory, the hotel is in an industrial area, surrounded by abandoned buildings. Although Old World 3rd Street and the popular RiverWalk are only a one-mile walk away, it's not a charming stroll. It is best to hop in a cab if the hotel shuttle isn't available.
The Art of Smart Timing
Milwaukee winters can be brutally cold, so the best time to visit is in the summer months or in the fall, when the leaves are glorious hues of red and gold. The warmer months are high season in Milwaukee, with a multitude of neighborhood festivals, outdoor concerts and other culinary and cultural events. The excitement comes to a crescendo at the end of June, when Summerfest, the world's largest music festival, kicks off. There's also a long lineup of ethnic festivals, including German Fest at the end of July, celebrating the city's largest immigrant group.
For Mom and Dad
Brewhouse Inn does not arrange babysitting services, and does not have a kid's club. If you are able to swing a night out without the kids, why not get a sip of Milwaukee's beer heritage? Although Miller Brewing is the only major brewery still operating in the city, Milwaukee is still known for its breweries, and several well-known microbreweries are based in the city.
A fun outing is a tour of the Lakefront Brewery, Sprecher Brewery or the Milwaukee Brewing Company. Consider pairing beer with dinner at Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub, featuring beers made just north in Green Bay, Wis., or drink in the fun at a brew pub one of the local brewpubs like Milwaukee Ale House or Cafe Benelux in the historic Third Ward.