In the mid-1800s, Charles and Lorenz Best…
Excavated a series of caves into the side of a bluff on south State Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The caves, which are 60 feet below a hilltop, were dug out as a means of keeping their mass-produced beer cold. At the time refrigeration had not been invented and the brothers were trying to find a way to store the barrels and keep their product fresh for consumption. Large blocks of ice were cut from local lakes and used to line the walls of the caves. The ice, combined with the natural cool temperatures, kept the barrels of beer cold through the summer months.
In 1855, Frederick Miller purchased the Plank Road Brewery and acquired the caves as part of the deal. The five caves, which range in size from 20 feet long and 8 feet high to 80 feet long and 20 feet high, ended their role as a beer storage site in the early 1900s. They sat unused for almost fifty years until they were reopened. The Miller family thought the caves would be a unique spot for high-end dinners, special events and a museum. The space was used sporadically through the years until Frederick C. Miller, grandson of the founder, and others decided to do a major overhaul of the space so that it could be used for concerts and other public events.
The caves underwent a major acoustic renovation in 2008 in an effort to make it more user-friendly. Acoustic engineers developed a transparent relief that looked exactly like the original brick of the tunnels. The result is a space with less of an “echo-like quality,” but the aesthetic of the original raw brick. The end product is a destination venue that can be used for musical performances, high-end events, beer pairing dinner parties and an overall clean, enhanced sound for guests.
MillerCoors hosts more than 115,000 guests at the Milwaukee brewing facility annually. The regular free one-hour tour is offered six days per week and includes stops at the Visitor Center for an introductory film, a walking tour to view the brewing and distribution process, a presentation in the historic Miller Caves, and concludes with a visit to the Miller Inn or Beer Garden. Further information can be found online at millercoors.com or by calling 414-931-BEER (2337).