One of the largest and most popular brewery tours in the nation, the Miller Brewery Tour covers the grounds of MillerCoors’ Miller Brewing plant, Wisconsin’s largest with an output of over 10 million barrels per year. The brewery sits on land purchased by Frederick Miller back in 1855 and fermentation has been happening here ever since.
Beers such as Miller Lite, Miller High Life, Miller Genuine Draft, and Milwaukee’s Best have been churned out for decades here; with mergers and acquisitions, Leinenkugel’s and Coors products are brewed in the Miller Brewery, as well as a ton of “old school” brands by contract: Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, Old Style, and more all still exist as brands but are brewed by Miller.
The Miller Brewery Tour begins at the Visitor Center along State Street, which of course includes a large gift shop along with historic exhibits on Miller’s history here, from its humble beginnings in 1855 to being MillerCoors today, one of the largest breweries in the country and part of Molson Coors (there were a lot of parent company changes from 2002 to 2016.) After a 15-minute film describing the company, its history, and art of macro-beer brewing, the tour hits State Street for a walk to the Brewhouse. An optional stair climb offers a view from above of the shiny copper brew kettles. Then the tour heads back across the street to the Miller Inn, a Bavarian-style bar where free samples are offered. Next stop is the historic Miller caves, where beer was chilled with ice cut from area lakes before mechanical refrigeration made the process a bit easier. Next up is a look from above at the bottling and canning lines (you’ll hear “Laverne & Shirley” references on this part of the tour as sure as you’ll hear “Caddyshack” references on golf courses) where statistics on how many cans and bottles get filled per minute – it’s rather staggering – and how they deal with short fills, etc. are covered. A walk-through of the shipping and distribution warehouse follows. This massive shipping area is larger than four football fields, and you’ll frequently see forklifts plying the aisles hustling that beer into ready trucks. The tour then heads back to the Visitor Center to wrap up with additional samples, outdoors when weather permits and inside otherwise. And of course, that’s right next to the Gift Shop.
Tours cost $10 and include a souvenir glass and beer samples along the tour. If you’re not of legal drinking age, well, they’re free – but you don’t get beer.
Residents and anyone else with a Wisconsin state-issued ID get half off, so for state residents the tour is $5.
In winter, tours run six days a week (closed Sundays) from 10am to 3:30pm, kicking off every half hour. In summer, tours run 10-6 Monday-Wednesday and 10am – 7pm Thursday-Saturday. On Sundays in summer, there are no tours but the beer garden is open from 10am to 4:30pm. Call 414-931-BEER for details or go here for the latest updates.
Miller Brewery Tour and Visitors Center Address:
4251 W. State Street
Milwaukee, WI 53208
You can access State Street easily from the Highway 175 freeway, just about a mile north of I-94 and Miller Park. Follow State Street east just a few blocks and you’ll see the Visitors Center right there. U.S. 18 is also right there, passing by via Wisconsin Avenue with a view of the whole complex from the bridge leapfrogging the Menomonee River and “Miller Valley.” You can access Miller’s Visitor Center from U.S. 18 via Highway 175’s connections to State Street or by connecting directly to State via 35th Street, which U.S. 18 follows between Highland Boulevard and Wisconsin Avenue.
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