Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Central Waters Brewing Taking Over Pabst Church

Pilot brewery on Juneau Ave. in The Brewery District won't be vacant for long.

By - Jun 7th, 2021 11:25 am
Pabst's Milwaukee pilot brewery in the First German Methodist Church in 2017. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Pabst’s Milwaukee pilot brewery in the First German Methodist Church in 2017. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A former church will find new life — once again — as a brewery.

Central Waters Brewing Co., based in Amherst, WI, will open a pilot brewery in the former First German Methodist Church at 1037 W. Juneau Ave.

In a tweet announcing the proposed brewery, the company said it hopes to open the facility in late summer or early fall. It will be used to brew beers not brewed in Amherst, but will serve beers from both breweries.

Pabst Brewing Company opened the Captain Pabst Pilot House, a small brewery and taproom, in the former church in 2017. But amidst the pandemic, the brewery was closed in December.

It was actually the second time Pabst had vacated the church. Pabst acquired the church in 1898 and used it for everything from the Forst Keller restaurant to an employee training facility. But in 1996, under a prior ownership group, Pabst vacated its campus of more than two-dozen buildings on the northwest side of downtown Milwaukee.

That campus was redeveloped starting in 2006 as The Brewery District under the leadership of Zilber Ltd. The church, originally constructed in 1872, was one of the last structures to be rehabilitated and Pabst was welcomed back with open arms by city officials.

The 7,927-square-foot facility houses a 4,000 barrel-per-year microbrewery on its first floor, with a taproom area and performance stage on the second floor. It also features an outdoor beer garden and a mezzanine area. A two-story addition was added to the rear of the building to accommodate an elevator and other accessibility improvements.

Central Waters, located east of Stevens Point, opened in 1998. The brewery has a significant environmental sustainability focus.

“How we make delicious brews matters just as much as their distinctive taste,” says the company’s website, noting its solar heating and water conservation techniques.

Central Waters offers nine year round beers and a variety of seasonal products. According to state tax filings, it has produced an average of approximately 850 barrels per month across the last two months. The total makes it one of the larger craft brewers in the state.

The brewery is owned and operated by Paul Graham and Anello Mollica.

The building is owned by Blue Ribbon Management, a development firm specializing in the federal EB-5 financing program that allows foreign nationals to obtain green cards for investing in job-creating projects.

Any exterior changes to the building will require approval from the Historic Preservation Commission.

Central Waters will not be the only brewery operating in The Brewery District. Milwaukee Brewing Company also operates out of The Forty Two, just east of the former church.

Interior Photos from 2017

Pre-Restoration Photos

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