Chris and Jennifer planed to take over the current Broken Bat space, where they will open a magic-themed brewery called Wizard Works Brewing, focusing on, classic craft beers, British style beers and German lagers.
Wizard Works is where brewing meets magic. Located in the heart of Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, a unique brewery and tap room have emerged, captivating the senses of beer enthusiasts and magic aficionados alike. Wizard Works is the brainchild of two individuals with a deep passion for their crafts—Chris Ivanovich and his wife Jenny Higgins.
With over 35 years of brewing experience and more than 40 years as a performing magician, Chris Ivanovich’s journey to founding Wizard Works was a convergence of his two great loves—beer and magic. Growing up in a family of brewers, Chris was exposed to the art and science of brewing from a young age. His fascination with the intricate processes involved in creating beer only grew stronger as he delved deeper into the realm of brewing.
Simultaneously, Chris developed an insatiable curiosity for the world of magic. He spent countless hours mastering tricks, honing his stage presence, and captivating audiences with his performances. Over the years, he became a seasoned magician, blending his technical brewing expertise with the flair and mystery of his magic acts.
Chris, a native of Milwaukee, discovered his passion for home brewing during his early twenties while he was studying in Denver. It was in this new city that he met John Hickenlooper, the owner of a home brew shop. Hickenlooper’s patient nature and willingness to answer even the most seemingly trivial questions made him an invaluable mentor to Chris as he embarked on his brewing journey. It’s worth noting that Hickenlooper’s passion for brewing led him to open Wynkoop, which became Denver’s first-ever brew pub—a unique concept during the ’80s. Hickenlooper went on to become Colorado’s governor, serving from 2011 to 2019.
Throughout his years, Ivanovich traveled across the country, enchanting audiences with his magical performances. He dedicated nine years of his life as the esteemed senior magician at Safe House. However, when the time came for Ivanovich to embark on a new venture and pursue his passion for brewing, he joined forces with Higgins.
Together, they enrolled in Barley to Barrel, an immersive 10-week brewery incubator program. This initiative brought together seasoned craft brewers who generously shared their expertise on a wide range of topics, including insurance, taproom architecture, branding, and various industry intricacies. As part of the program, the participants formed groups and immersed themselves in the local brewery scene, collaborating on the creation of unique beer batches.
Jenny Higgins, a long-time friend and eventually wife of fellow magician, shared Chris’s passion for both brewing and magic. Jenny had an extensive background in the performing arts and a deep appreciation for the craft of brewing. Together, Chris and Jenny envisioned a place where their two passions could intertwine seamlessly—a place where the artistry of brewing would be infused with the enchantment of magic.
Their vision became a reality when they founded Wizard Works Brewing. Nestled in the heart of Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, the brewery and tap room became a haven for beer enthusiasts and magic lovers alike. Wizard Works quickly gained a reputation for its commitment to tradition and craftsmanship, offering a unique experience that went beyond the typical brewery setting.
Wizard Works Brewing established its presence in April 2020, taking over the former location of Broken Bat Brewing Co. To assist with the establishment of their new brewery, Wizard Works acquired all the assets from Broken Bat’s seven-barrel brewing system allowing for a seamless transition.
The year 2020 has brought immense challenges to businesses across the city, and Wizard Works Brewing has unfortunately experienced its fair share of hardships. Despite opening its new brewery amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and statewide shutdown,Wizard Works did not experience the typical grand opening celebration. The brewery operated under restricted capacity, limited to just 25%, which affected its initial reception and exposure. The brewery faced another devastating blow. Due to nearby construction work accidentally damaging a water main, the taproom was flooded, leaving the brewery and taproom submerged under approximately two-to-five inches of water. This unfortunate incident forced the space to close mere months after its long-awaited opening.
One problem of Wizard Works’ location, situated in the basement of the Fred Vogel Jr. Building, is that it cannot accommodate a mobile canning service like many other small breweries. However, they found an innovative solution by utilizing a new micro-canner. This portable canning system could be easily rolled onto a table, connected, and stored away when not in use. Wizard Works has prioritized providing to-go beer options, starting with growlers, then transitioning to crowlers, and offering four-packs for customers’ convenience.
Every beer crafted at Wizard Works is a testament to Chris’s brewing expertise. With his vast knowledge and experience, he meticulously selects the finest ingredients and employs time-honored brewing techniques to create truly exceptional brews. Each sip reveals layers of complexity, showcasing the artistry and passion that goes into every batch.
But what sets Wizard Works apart is the touch of magic that infuses each beer. Inspired by his years as a magician, Chris incorporates elements of illusion and surprise into the brewing process. Whether it’s a cleverly crafted label that reveals hidden images or a captivating aroma that seems to defy logic, Wizard Works brews possess an otherworldly quality that keeps patrons spellbound.
The tap room at Wizard Works is a testament to Jenny’s artistic vision. With a keen eye for design and a love for all things magical, she transformed the space into a whimsical haven. The walls are adorned with vintage posters of famous magicians, shelves display antique magic props, and the ambiance is enchanting, transporting visitors into a world where anything is possible.
At Wizard Works, the magic extends beyond the liquid in the glass. Chris and Jenny wanted to create an immersive experience for their patrons, blending the realms of brewing and magic. Regular performances by local magicians entertain guests, leaving them in awe of the illusions unfolding before their eyes. The tap room becomes a stage where the boundaries between reality and fantasy blur, creating an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
As word spread about Wizard Works, the brewery garnered a dedicated following of beer enthusiasts and magic lovers. The unique combination of exceptional brews and captivating performances drew people from near and far. Visitors often found themselves immersed in conversations about the intricacies of brewing or engaged in discussions about the art of magic, forging connections and fostering a sense of community.
With each passing year, Wizard Works continues to evolve and innovate. Chris and Jenny remain committed to pushing the boundaries of brewing and magic, constantly experimenting with new flavors, techniques, and illusions. They have become pioneers in their craft, inspiring a new generation of brewers and magicians to explore the possibilities that lie at the intersection of these two artistic realms.
Today, Wizard Works stands as a testament to the power of passion and creativity. It is a place where the alchemy of brewing converges with the enchantment of magic, creating a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Chris Ivanovich and Jenny Higgins have crafted more than just a brewery—they have crafted a space where dreams come to life, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and where the line between reality and illusion becomes beautifully blurred.