As the #1 biggest brewery in the world by 1902 and still the 2nd largest as late as 1976, the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. was certainly a behemoth in the world of beer. However, hampered by workers’ strikes and, in part, by a disastrous plan to tinker with the formula to speed up fermentation time, Schlitz would ultimately be sold out to the Stroh’s Brewing Co. in 1982 and cease to exist as a cherished Milwaukee entity.

fbt-brown-bottle-mke-2Although many of the original structures dating back to the late 1800s still stand in the complex on the north end of downtown Milwaukee, little of what was the brewery is left on the interior as the vast majority of the structures have been repurposed into the wonderful office complex known as Schlitz Park. However, there is one building that harkens back to what Schlitz looked like when it was on tap in pretty much every corner pub in America – the Brown Bottle Pub.

While the original pub dates back to 1938, the newest incarnation was opened in the fall of 2014. And while it is relatively new in that context, the Brown Bottle certainly makes one feel as if he or she has been transformed back into an era of long ago. From the wood paneling in the bar, to the Orlandini plaster ceiling in the main dining hall, or to the photos of famous guests such as Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz that adorn the walls, one can’t help but get the vibe of the classic Schlitz empire.

fbt-brown-bottle-mke-3One of my favorite architectural features of the pub is the trio of original wrought iron chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. Famed Austrian artist Cyril Colnik, who immigrated to the US to partake in the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and found a new home in Milwaukee, would produce these masterpieces as well as hundreds of other art and architectural pieces that can still be seen throughout the city today. Other cool design touches include little things such as the rosettes that were in the original brew house and now beautify the hostess stand.

And although history abounds in the Brown Bottle Pub, the menu fare and beverage list are anything but outdated. With an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, a vast selection of items can be found for lunch, happy hour, and dinner. New twists on classic dishes are highlighted as one can enjoy soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, flat breads, entrees, and as well as their famous Friday night fish fry. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are readily available. The drinks are equally impressive whether you desire wine, a classic cocktail such as a Wisconsin Old Fashioned, or one of their more than four dozen beer offerings. And, yes, Schlitz beer – just like it was in 1938 – is on tap!

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