The recently shuttered Milwaukee Brewing Co. will live on, continuing 25 years of business after it was bought by Milwaukee's Eagle Park Brewing.
Milwaukee Brewing Co.'s well-known beers like Louie's Demise, MKE IPA and Outboard will stay on shelves and on tap thanks to the deal.
Brothers Max and Jackson Borgardt and business partner Jake Schinker, who started Eagle Park Brewing almost six years ago, want to keep the recipes and names of the Milwaukee Brewing Co. beers that Wisconsinites have grown to know.
"It’s a huge deal. They are one of the oldest craft breweries in the city, and they're pretty cemented in this culture," Borgardt said. "To be in this spot is pretty surreal. We want to carry on what they’ve done and to make sure the city knows that the beer is not going away."
While Eagle Park will get distribution of Milwaukee Brewing Co. products back on shelves as early as Oct. 1, the brewery will take its time opening a taproom dedicated to the brewery.
Eagle Park will not take up the lease at the Milwaukee Ale House at 233 N. Water St., where Milwaukee Brewing Co. started in the Third Ward 25 years ago.
The taproom Milwaukee Brewing occupied at 1128 N. Ninth St. was taken over by Chicago-based Pilot Project Brewing.
"It's something we're not going to rush," Schinker said. "When we were looking for this place, we were looking for the right building or facility that should be a representation of a brewery that represents the city and make sure it’s the right fit."
Another change customers will notice is new labeling when the Borgardts’ and Schinker’s iteration of Milwaukee Brewing Co. hits shelves.
"We're not going to make it unrecognizable, but we're going to update the brand and give it a fresh look," Borgardt said. "It won’t lose its essence. We want something where it looks like it's going be coming from us."
Milwaukee Brewing Co. was created by Milwaukeean Jim McCabe in 1997.
A quarter-century later, Eagle Park owners are confident that the beers will continue to sell well.
“I think the one thing we noticed when Milwaukee Brewing announced their closure was a lot of social media content where people said that they were going to miss it,” Borgardt said. “We were watching, thinking, 'Don’t worry.' We are confident that there are a lot of consumers out there who are ready.”
A perfect partnership
Eagle Park Brewing owners said Milwaukee Brewing Co. fit perfectly into their brewing portfolio.
More approachable brews will come from the Milwaukee Brewing Co. brand, which the new owners plan to expand with new seasonal releases while keeping beers from the previous operation.
“That was a lot of the intrigue in the project, is the fact that Eagle Park exists in its own space and there isn’t a ton of overlap,” Borgardt said. “Eagle Park is the company that we built. We know our brand very well and what it's capable of. Deciding where new products will land isn’t going to be that challenging for us.”
That means Eagle Park Brewing will stay the same with more experimental, constantly rotating beers.
“People might be wondering, ‘What is this going to mean for Eagle Park?’ Nothing,” Borgardt said. “We’re going to keep on doing the same thing we do. We’re not going to change the amount we produce. It’s going to stay the exact same.”
About Eagle Park Brewing
The Borgardt brothers started producing beer on a small scale — first in the Borgardt family garage before they were old enough to drink.
The business began to grow in a 700-square-foot space in Bay View’s Lincoln Warehouse in January 2017. In April 2018 they moved to a larger space at 823 E. Hamilton St.
They have gained a following for limited-release beers, and carved out a space for unique offerings like a Milkshake IPA; Ekto Kooler, a green hard seltzer; and a Pineapple Upside-Down Sour beer.
In March 2020, they were set to open a 20,500-square-foot space at S64-W15680 Commerce Center Parkway in Muskego, but the opening was delayed until that July because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Muskego location includes a 20-barrel brewhouse and a state-of-the-art canning line, which made the acquisition of Milwaukee Brewing Co. possible.
“One of the reasons we were interested in Muskego is we have a lot of space. We have enough capacity to launch Milwaukee Brewing Company beers for the next six months,” Borgardt said.
Borgardt, 33, said they’re in a good place to take on the 25-year legacy of Milwaukee Brewing and continue its run.
“It seems like in talking to Jim that they are excited as much as we are. We’re younger. We have a lot of years to put into this, but it’s not going to someone who has a few years before retirement,” Borgardt said. “We have time to grow the brand and give it the time it needs. That’s why we’re excited, and we’re going to give it everything we have.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Brewing Company bought by Eagle Park Brewing