I love great tourist attractions. At the top of my list are places like Alcatraz and the Taj Mahal. I also like free things. I especially like free parking. And free beer. The tour of the Miller Brewery Tour in Milwaukee includes all of these things! We just wrapped up a family vacation in Wisconsin, and it was an absolute blast! One of the highlights was our tour of the Miller Brewery.
Miller actually merged with Coors in 2007. Thus, I suppose it would be proper to refer to the brewery as the Miller-Coors Brewery, but this is the place where they produce Miller so for the purpose of this post, we’ll just call it the Miller Brewery.
We looked online, and we decided to sign up for an 11AM tour. My parents had taken this tour before so they knew it was free, but I was pretty shocked to find this out. I’ve been to the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, and I know that wasn’t free! We showed up on time, and they were firing up bratwursts outside the brewery. They smelled awesome, but we would wait to indulge ourselves until after the tour. Before the tour began, we spent some time looking at all the fun trinkets in the gift shop, and we looked at some of the fun Miller relics, like an old motorcycle (which I believe was a Harley, given that Harley-Davidson was founded in Milwaukee as well) and an old Miller High Life cruiser.
When the tour began, our large group entered a theater, where we were given a presentation about the history of the company. It was pretty interesting, and I learned all about how Frederick Miller came to the US and started his brewery in Milwaukee. The video also gave a perspective on American history, taking the audience through times like prohibition and WW2. I found it especially interesting that Miller was one of the few brands to innovate during prohibition and create root beers and other products to stay afloat. After the video, our tour guide took us to where the magic happens.
The first section of the tour took us to where the bottling happens. It was fascinating to see the assembly line in action. We were watching bottles filled and capped at an extremely rapid rate. The tour guide gave out some statistic about how many they can churn out per day, but I don’t remember the number – i just know it was impressive!
After touring the assembly line, we actually got to see the tanks where the brewing / fermentation process happens. Very cool stuff!
As a last bit of history on the tour, we were shown the original Frederick Miller Brewery house, and we got to go inside the caves where the beer used to be kept. In the pre-refridgeration days, Frederick Miller would collect ice from the winter and stack it against his caves, keeping the beer cool year round. It was fun to be in the cave, and I’m sure the space can be rented for some pretty neat parties. Just next door to the caves are the Inn where you get your first sampling of beer! A “sample” is a full glass, FYI. I believe in this first room we were not offered a choice of beers. I think it had to be Miller High Life, the “Champagne of Beers,” or Miller Light. I don’t recall. After finishing our sampling, we were then guided to an outdoor patio. Here we had the choice of a few Miller brands to try, and we were allowed two beers each. If you have kids who are not 21, they are still allowed on the tour, and soda is available in place of soda beer. On the patio, you can also fill out postcards to friends, which Miller will mail free of charge – a fun perk and great marketing!
After finishing the last of our beers, we headed back to the gift shop, where I bought the coolest hat ever (follow-up post coming) and had some great brats! If you’re in Milwaukee and have some time to kill, this is such a fun tour! It costs nothing, you’ll learn a bit of American history, and you’ll get three free beers. Why are you still reading this? Go visit!