Lakefront Brewery Inc.
With their common interest in beer making, the Klisch brothers-Jim and Russ- decided to start a small brewery, and chose a location within walking distance of their home: an old bakery building in Riverwest, at 818 East Chambers Street. They began brewing with 55 gallon stainless steel drums and used dairy equipment. On December 2, 1987 they sold their first barrel of beer to the Gordon Park Pub.
As Lakefront’s popularity grew, so did their production: by 1988, sales jumped to 72 barrels; by 1989, 125 barrels; and sales began doubling after that. In 1990, owner Russ Klisch built his own bottling machine and began bottling their beer. As the brewery expanded, more used equipment was brought in to meet the demand.
In 1908, Lakefront Brewery’s current building housed the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company’s coal-fired power plant. It was later sold to the City to house Milwaukee’s Forestry Department. But in 1998, the City was considering tearing down the old power plant to uphold a contract with a nearby apartment complex unless a local business was interested in the location. At the same time, demand for Lakefront’s innovative beers increased. Jim and Russ concluded they had outgrown the little bakery, and it was time to move on. They looked at several sites, but decided on this location upon the City’s recommendation. The move was completed and additions were made to both the building and brewery. In 2000, Russ replaced the homemade brewing equipment with a real brew house.