The Venerable Milwaukee Ale House Is Closing

The team behind one of Cream City’s first brewpubs hopes to reopen in another location after not renewing its lease for its riverfront space in the Third Ward.

The Milwaukee Ale House, which introduced the modern brewpub concept to Cream City 25 years ago, will close next month. 

Its owners said in a Facebook post that they were unable to renew the lease for its Third Ward space but hope to reopen the brewpub in another location. The last day of operation will be Sept. 11.

The Ale House opened in the first floor of the Historic Third Ward’s Saddlery building, 233 N. Water St., in October 1997. The small brewery in the front of the building kicked out favorites like Louie’s Demise amber ale and O-Gii imperial witbier, while the back patio and dock on the Riverwalk has long been a popular summertime spot.



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The patio of the Milwaukee Ale House; Photo courtesy Visit Milwaukee

“Very few places have been around for this long. After such a long tenure here on the water, we are losing our beautiful home, and the city is losing a staple in the restaurant and brewing scene,” the Facebook post said. “We’ve spent the past 25(!) years with each other, celebrating your milestones, eating and drinking together, watching the sun set on the river from the patio. We have brewed many pints of fresh beer, trying over 400 different recipes. There could be nothing better, and we thought we had at least another 25 years to continue our traditions.”

The Ale House’s parent company and larger-scale brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Co., had a larger production brewery on South Second Street for years before it opened a massive 43,000-square foot facility on Ninth Street in the Brewery District in 2018. Since then, the company launched a series of hard seltzers called Tierra Buena, and in 2020 formed a partnership called Drink Design Collective with Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams beer, Twisted Tea hard teas and Truly hard seltzers. Founder Jim McCabe moved from CEO into a marketing role in 2019.

Milwaukee Brewing announced that the company, including leases on the 4-year-old brewery and the Ale House space, was for sale this spring. With the former Second Street facility now an Adventure Rock climbing gym, it’s possible the Milwaukee Brewing name could disappear from the city within months or even weeks.

But the Ale House post made clear that the good times will be rolling until its closing next month: “We’ll be tapping kegs and frying curds until the very end. Please, come join us one more time over the next four weeks, and raise your glasses with us to toast the amazing memories we have here. We will have some special releases and some throwback pricing to send us off in style.”



Executive editor, Milwaukee Magazine. Aficionado of news, sports and beer. Dog and cat guy. (Yes, both.)