All Things Beer The Craft Corner

Lakefront Brewery Celebrates 30 Years in the Making

Founded by brothers Jim and Russ Klisch in 1987, Lakefront Brewery has become a Milwaukee landmark located on the riverfront of the Milwaukee River and a recognized beer in 37 states across the country.

According to Brewery website and President Russ Klisch, the whole brewery started with his brother, Jim. Near his birthday, Jim expressed interest in beer making, and Russ humored him by giving him a homebrewing book. To Russ’ surprise, Jim read the book and brewed a beer. By Russ’ account, Jim was no gourmet cook, but he made a pretty good beer. Impressed, Russ decided he could brew one better. In short, sibling rivalry and common interest lead both brothers to begin entering homebrewing contests and winning awards. It wasn’t long before family and friends encouraged them to turn their hobby into a business.

Jim and Russ Klisch on Opening Night in 1987 (Photo Credit: Lakefront Brewery)

Beer runs deep in the Klisch family. Jim and Russ’ grandfather worked for Schlitz as a delivery driver. Many of their family members also owned bars and taverns. With beer flowing through the family blood, the brothers opened a small brewery located within a short walk from their home in an old bakery on Chambers Street in the Riverwest area of Milwaukee.

The original Lakefront Brewery on Chambers Street (Photo Credit: Lakefront Brewery)

Outgrowing the little bakery as consumers were demanding more brews from Lakefront Brewery, the brothers packed up and moved to where they are located now on the riverfront of the Milwaukee River. Production has increased throughout the years, and in 2016 Lakefront Brewery had reached 45,000 barrels per year.

Current Lakefront Brewery (Photo Credit: Lakefront Brewery)

Twin Cities CBS affiliate talked with Co-Founder Jim Klisch on “Three Decades of Suds” during a recent segment on Mid-Morning.

With the celebration of 30 years brewing, Lakefront Brewery has refreshed its brand to celebrate. From a logo update to graphics to beer brands, everything is becoming stronger and more focused.

“Successful brands live in a very narrow space,” said Lakefront Brewery Brand Manager, Michael Stodola. “Over the next 6 months, Lakefront fans will see our transformation. It’s more about dependability, fun and an honest day’s work.”

“From our beginnings on Chambers street 30 years ago to now, our image continues a steady climb upward. This is another great step. We’ve learned a lot about this business and about ourselves. Innovation, growth and being fresh are keys to success in the craft beer world. We’re lucky to have enjoyed all three.” Russ Klisch said. “We’re only 30 years old once. Time to celebrate our success, our city and our fans.”

Look for new Lakefront packaging to be popping up everywhere. From bottle labels and 6-packs, to 12-packs and tap handles, Lakefront Brewery is prepping for the next 30 years. There are even more new beers arriving. “We’re starting a new Double IPA series, as well as a new Single Hop (SHOP) series,” said Director of Business Development, Chris Johnson. “And look for a 30th anniversary beer, the Lakefront 30, and a Black Friday special reserve.”

Learn more about Lakefront Brewery at

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