The latest addition to the local brewery scene has roots that go way, way, way back into Milwaukee’s brewing history.
This weekend’s grand opening of Melms Brewing Company (418 Merton Ave., Hartland) should be sponsored by Ancestry.com.
The original Melms Brewery, founded by C.T. Melms, set up shop in Walker’s Point in the late 1850s and by the 1860s was the largest beer producer in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, Melms died in 1869, the brewery was purchased by Best Brewing Company, and it appeared that Melms would be a footnote in beer history.
Milwaukee native Bob Stack decided not to let that happen. The great, great, great, great nephew of Melms put in motion a plan to resurrect the rich brewing history.
“About seven years ago I came to understand how important (C.T. Melms) and Melms Brewing were in Milwaukee’s brewing history,” said Stack. “I don’t think many people in the community, or family for that matter, other than beer historians knew of him or understood his significance. Once I learned about that it became a mission to reestablish his name in the southeastern Wisconsin brewing vernacular.”
Stack’s brewmaster is Brandon Van Epps, an accomplished homebrewer who has been crafting beer for more than 20 years. Van Epps has created a few Melms standouts, which lean toward traditional styles, like Rhapsody Bohemian Pilsner, Hootenanny Belgian Farmhouse Ale, Woodshed Imperial Amber and Reflection Imperial Porter. At the grand opening, the brewery is unveiling Blarney Stone Stout. Expect more releases in the near future.
“Bob and I joined forces a few years ago. He likes to say we met on Craigslist, while I was looking for some warehouse space to set up a small brewing system and get out of my garage,” explained Van Epps. “I was on a ski trip in Colorado for a buddy’s birthday when I got an email from Bob explaining his vision and he asked if I would be his brewmaster. Since then we’ve poured beers at festivals in Wisconsin to get our name out while continually searching for the right space to open. We found our space in June and began building out the taproom and started brewing the beers for our opening a few months back.”
The space they decided on was built out to hold a 1,600-square-foot taproom. Expect it to be busy on Saturday.
Melms Brewing Company Grand Opening
418 Merton Avenue, Hartland
Saturday, March 17
4 to 7 p.m.