So the last day of last years baseball season I took a trip from Chicago to Milwaukee to see the last baseball game of the season with Padres taking on the Brewers. First off it was a visit to the second largest brewery in America: Miller Brewing Company!
Visiting Miller the first thing I noticed was a really cool VW van in the parking lot. What was the purpose of this VW van? Well keep that question a question because I am still clueless for that one. Once inside the brewery there was a good-sized gift shop with a multitude of gift items several of the other brands that Miller operates with (Leinenkugel, Blue Moon, Peroni, etc). The more ironic thing is that they do the photo booth thing just like other amusement parks, non-natural museums, and the like! Also, what was more ironic is that they had all of these toys to play with like hulk hands and a keg. This being said if you were under the age of 21 (like the Hasidic Jewish family with five kids under the age of 21) then you can’t pick up or touch these items.
Once inside there was a seven minute presentation about the beginings of Miller brewing and the “Girl in the Moon” Now every Wikipedia and media article will tell you that the “Girl in the Moon” was Fredrick Miller’s granddaughter. This may or may not be the case. During the video presentation I learned:
- It could have been Fredrick Miller’s grand daughter.
- It could have been his mistress.
- It was that girl that he secretly crushed on but couldn’t get the cojones to speak to.
- It was a marketing campaign that came in a vision after a dream.
This being said I don’t know if there was a concrete story to the “Girl in the Moon”.
Later it felt like the tour was all about Miller owning a ton of brands and making a ton of beer. It felt like they had the money to put into it and let the money do the talking. Also the 47 optional steps should have been left as an option because at the top of those steps it smelled like rabbit poop! They also had a huge light up board bragging of all the brands that Miller sells and distributes. At the end there was a beer hall of about 25 people and they poured High Life, Lite, and Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest.
I’m not saying not to do this tour but to go into it knowing what it is.
The next day I had planned on going to Madison and Iowa but I decided to stay in Milwaukee another day. Go out for a run in the city to get a feel of it and then leave but instead I figured it would be good to visit another brewery. This led me to….
The only problem I may have had with Lakefront was trying to find my way there and parking at the brewery. I parked on a street about a quarter of a mile away from the brewery but this wasn’t even that big of a deal because I was running a marathon three days later! This being said it was a $5 tour with four 4 oz pours, a free pint glass, and a free Lakefront beer at several select bars in the Milwaukee area (probably over half of the bars in the greater Milwaukee area). What was also really cool was the fact that their tasting room had an awesome empty warehouse feel! Also, there were several stopping points during the tour where you got to fill up and not stop drinking! Larry, Curly, and Moe are the tops of the first three fermenting tanks that were at Lakefront. They have now been turned into awesome structures in the front of the brewery! And if you were wondering there were as many people at the Lakefront tour as there were the Miller tour.
What was awesome about this tour was the history that was involved with Lakefront. How they bought their location on the riverfront for $1 because the City of Milwaukee wanted to build up that area. When county stadium was torn down in the 90’s Bernie’s Chalice (pictured above) and slide was bought by Lakefront. When the new owners of Miller (ironically not Miller brewing company) park came back to the owner of Lakefront they were looking to buy the Chalice and slide back they were looking to buy the for a price in the hundreds of thousands of dollars the owner of Lakefront proposed that they could have them as long as the Lakefront logo was to remain on the front of the Chalice. Even the bottling line was the one that was used from the 70’s tv show Laverne and Shirley:
What made Lakefront a pleasurable experience was that it was a genuine tour where it wasn’t how big they were, but how big the product was that made and the truthful history behind it. If you are in Milwaukee then visiting Lakefront Brewery is a must!
- Chicago Stories: A Tale Of Two Baseball Stadiums! (craftbeerandrunning.com)