Jeramey Jannene

Central Waters Opening Church Brewery

On October 16. Dairyland will open restaurant alongside brewery in onetime church.

By - Sep 29th, 2021 02:00 pm
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.

Mark your calendars. Central Waters Brewing Co. announced it will open its new Milwaukee brewery on October 16 at 11 a.m.

The Amherst-based brewery is taking over the former Captain Pabst Pilot House at 1037 W. Juneau Ave.

Dairyland Old-Fashioned Frozen Custard and Hamburgers is slated to join the brewery in the former church. “They are working hard to try and be open with us for that weekend,” said the brewery on social media. The fast-growing restaurant is also an anchor tenant in the 3rd Street Market Hall, which is scheduled to open October 18.

Central Waters will use the new brewery, built as First German Methodist Church in 1872, as a pilot brewery to brew beers not currently produced at its production facility located east of Stevens Point. But the taproom at the new brewery will serve beers from both facilities.

The 7,927-square-foot facility houses a brewing system capable of producing 4,000 barrels per year 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.

Images shared on social media by the brewery show artists adding a substantial amount of color to what was a stark white interior. A new interior mural was painted by Amy Zaremba and Sharon Tang. The Pabst mural on the church’s rear addition, overlooking Interstate 43, has already been covered by a Central Waters logo.

Central Waters opened in 1998. The brewery has a significant environmental sustainability focus and Wisconsin wildlife imagery features heavily in the company’s branding.

“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.

The Pabst Brewing Company has a long history with the former church, but called it quits (for the second time) last December amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

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. It reopened on Milwaukee Day (April 14) 2017.

Central Waters offers nine different year-round beers and a variety of seasonal products. According to the most recent public state tax filings, it produced 829 barrels in July. That 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.

Central Waters will gain a new neighbor in 2022. On Monday, entertainment group Bars & Recreation announced it would open Amped, a meeting space and private karaoke suite bar, in the summer of 2022 at the base of the Brewery Parking Structure.

Interior Photos from 2017

Pre-Restoration Photos

2 thoughts on “Central Waters Opening Church Brewery”

  1. Johnstanbul says:

    I was sorry to hear that the Pabst Pilot House closed. They did a beautiful renovation of the space. Evidently the timing with the pandemic and the ongoing evolution of the area into a mixed use neighborhood were too much for them. Anytime I went in it was pretty sparsely attended. No less it was a great spot.

    To that I say congratulations and good luck to Central Waters. I’m sure they will thrive there as they’re well established as a brand and business. It’s a beautiful space that I look forward to visiting again.

  2. David Coles says:

    This beautiful structure was once deemed “beyond repair” and faced demolition under the PabstCity plans. Fortunately, the historic preservation community rallied to save this and several other threatened buildings on the Pabst campus.

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