When the Well for the Pabst Brewery Ran Dry

Breweries were always well known for the purity of their product and all the Milwaukee breweries originally used artesian wells to tap into a very clean source of water to brew beer. Of course those wells don’t last forever especially when the well is used heavily. The Pabst brewery well lasted until 1902 when it was forced to use city water drawn from the lake. This article tells about that problem and a little bit of the history of that spring.

Milwaukee Journal – June 12, 1902


Famous Springs Which Had a Reputation in the Days of the Indians Appear to Have Yielded All Their Resources to the Making of Beer and Another Supply is Needed.

The artesian wells which have for many years supplied the water for the famous products of the Pabst Brewery have failed and the company has petitioned the city authorities for water accommodations and will be supplied with a large main, which will be laid from Third and Prairie streets.

The springs at the brewery were famous long before the site was selected for the largest brewery in the world and the water which gushed from the earth there was known among the Indians as the great “Mankaki waters” at a time when the great northwest was a wilderness. The springs were enlarged by Jacob Best, founder of the brewery, and later the artesian wells were sunk as the flow from the springs was not sufficient to supply the greatly increased needs of the brewery. For nearly a score of years this water has been used to make the body of the Pabst beer and its purity and wholesomeness have been a great boon to the company. About one year ago the supply began to fail and it has been a great source of worry to the company, and at present a large quantity of city water is being used. Last month alone more than $5,000 worth of water was purchased from the city mains and as soon as the big 15-inch pipe which the city engineer will ask to be laid is tapped, the company will probably become the largest user of municipal water.


Comments (2)

  1. Wow, never knew about this. Did Miller, Schlitz, and Blatz have their own wells too? Is it known if using the city’s water rather than spring water impacted sales…or taste? Great article!

  2. mkemaster

    Good question. I am pretty sure Schlitz had a well but will have to look into it a little more.

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