Unspeakable violence occurred at the Molson Coors complex this week. News like this is always tragic, but it feels closer to home when it happens in a place that we’re all familiar with, a place that’s been part of the fabric of the Milwaukee community for generations.
The tight-knit beer community was quick to respond. Several local craft breweries posted messages of support on social media. Beer events were canceled, and a large amount of local bars are donating proceeds from Miller products to the families of the victims. And it’s not just the locals pitching in. For example, Chicago’s Off Color Brewing immediately donated a portion of proceeds of Eeek!, a collab with Miller, to families affected. Members of the local beer community have plenty to say about Miller Brewing and the impact it has had on them and the city they live in.
Russ Klisch is the founder of Lakefront Brewery, which has been a Milwaukee craft brewery for three decades.
“Very simply, Miller – and the rest of the large heritage breweries – was the reason I wanted to start a brewery in Brew City. Brewing is part of this town’s DNA. Miller helped build it, and I wanted to be part of it. When the other large (breweries) fell to the side, there was always Miller to keep our Brew City image going. Miller has also been a great corporate citizen, which they don’t get the credit for that they should. The one thing that stands out to me is how nice any employee from Miller has been to our brewery throughout the 32 years of our existence. From the workers on the floor to the CEOs, everyone has been good to us, and I can’t remember one time I’ve ever had anyone from Miller say anything bad about us.”
Wendy Testin, a bookkeeper at Lakefront, worked at Miller from 1981 to 2007. Her grandmother was a Gettelman, part of the family behind the legendary A. Gettelman Brewing Co.
“I started (working at Miller) in 1981 right after high school. After getting hired, it was then when the company was growing and changing at a fast pace. Miller has always been a big part of my life. If it would not have been for Miller, I wouldn’t be here. Over 100 years Miller has been a landmark brewery of what has become Brew City. It’s part of our culture in Milwaukee. When I drive through Miller Valley, and smell the malt, it always puts a smile on my face. I am so saddened by the tragedy.”
Andrew Gierczak is one of the founders of MobCraft Beer. He worked for nearly three years at Leinenkugel’s 10th Street Brewery.
“Without Miller I can confidently say my trajectory in this industry would have taken a very different path. Miller employs some of the most knowledgable and passionate people in the industry, and they are committed to quality at every level. Miller has proudly carried the torch as one of the few legacy industrial manufacturers left in Milwaukee, and our city is better because of the jobs and value they continue to create.”
Tom “Grynder” Ciula is a certified beer judge and resident beer guru.
“(Growing up) we always had neighbors at every place who worked at the brewery. Many of us growing up who didn’t figure we could afford college had our eye on a Miller Brewery job when we graduated high school. We heard stories of the workers getting as much beer as they wanted even during working hours. It was instilled in us that the only reason anybody in the U.S. even knew about Milwaukee was because of Miller Brewing. So it was like General Motors to our generation when we were approaching our teens.”