Milwaukee is most famous for its booming brewing industry, which is directly tied to a surge in German immigration in the 1840s. These new citizens brought along their work ethic, culture, and a love for their native beverage. Not all immigrants arrived from Europe; many, like Richard Owens, came from Britain. Owens has been credited with establishing the first commercial brewery in the area in 1840. Other men followed, many of whom were already experienced in brewing, and seized the opportunity to start new businesses. Brand names were carved on the front of brewery buildings, deals were made with a handshake, partnerships were cultivated, and factory cities were raised. By 1860, nearly 200 breweries were in operation in Wisconsin, with more than 40 in Milwaukee alone. Of the original 40, four have stood the test of time: Blatz, Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller are still brewed in Milwaukee, right where they were born.
Written by historian Brenda Magee, introduction by Frederick Gettelman