Milwaukee’s Best Place takes its name from its founders, Jacob Best and Phillip Best, keeping the Pabst tradition alive right in the heart of where it all started.
It’s been awhile since a friend took me up to the old Pabst factory on the NW side of the city. We hit a few of Milwaukee’s gems this past summer, including Lakefront Brewery and Von Trier, but none generated the rich memories of Best Place.
You’d be forgiven if you thought of this place as a museum, or a memorial to the great Pabst fortune. But you’d be missing the point. In Milwaukee, some things never say die. Best Place begins where the old Pabst brewery tours would end — the tasting room. Opening onto the secluded Captain’s Courtyard, partakers sit among some of the most unique architecture in the city. The brewery and corporate offices rise on all sides like a gothic cathedral, and the interior hall looks like a scene from Beowulf with its large wooden tables, rustic styling and stained glass.
The new owner is restoring the place room by room. Even the isolated tasting room where the CEO would bring his most honored guests is almost finished, complete with its faded murals, wood panelling and a massive round table. Upstairs, as part of our off-the-record tour, we saw the ruins of the old offices. This place looked like Pompei, not so much for its ashy state as for its rapid abandonment. The CEO’s office looked like he might walk back in at any moment. An ashtray on the desk, photos of the family, even the papers stacked on the shelves made it seem like the brewery hadn’t closed so much as suffered a beery rapture.
The gift shop is loaded with items the owner found while he unearthed the place, so most of it’s truly vintage and in short supply, until he finds more, of course. If you’re in the area, please find some time to visit Best Place. While it can survive off the real estate deals it made with the rest of the Pabst brewery land, it’ll need patronage to avoid another shuttering.