On this day back in 1926, Prohibition was in in full swing. People who wanted their favorite beverage had to find some place to slake their thirst. Luckily Milwaukee had plenty of illegal underground bars that catered to their needs. Karl Raatzch, who founded the Milwaukee restaurant which still bears his name, ran an underground beer hall just south of Steinmeyer’s store on the corner of 3rd and Highland.
Milwaukee Journal, April 24, 1926
Karl Raatzsch Saloon Raided
Federal Agents Uncover Large Supply of Beer in Place
Karl A. Raatzsch, proprieter of a bar at 310 Third St., which was known to thousands of Milwaukeeans before prohibition and has retained its fame since, was arrested late Friday following a raid on the place by federal prohibition agents. In view of the fact that no fear was entertained that he would not appear when wanted, Harry L. Kellogg, United States commissioner, allowed him his liberty without bail.
Before prohibition the place was known as “the wein stube” because it was one of the few saloons in Milwaukee that catered to wine drinkers, and it was probably the only one that catered to wine drinkers who could afford only the inexpensive wines. A huge glass of wine was sold for a nickel, and it was a common saying that the cheapest way to be relieved temporarily of worry and care was to go to the wein stube and drink a glass or two of wine.
Revived by Raatzsch
The place dropped into obscurity in the early days of prohibition, but its fame began to revive when Raatzsch took hold of it a few years ago. It has come to be one of the most widely known places in the city, and it reputation rested solely on its meals and its beer. Beer was the only alcoholic beverage that the prohibition agents found.
Agents had made purchases of beer in the place previously, and late Friday another purchase was made. The raid followed.
Beer on Tap
Two half-barrels of beer were on tap, the beer flowing through the spigots as before prohibition. The tapped barrels were in the cellar, as was the rest of the contraband seized.
There were 14 other half-barrels all ready for tapping. Each held 15 1/2 gallons. Twenty 15-gallon crocks and two 25-gallon ones held beer in the process of fermentation. Two 15-gallon copper wash boilers stood on two gas plates, with beer “cooking” in them.
There were also two 50-gallon barrels of malt syrup, six barrels of near-beer and eight gallons of brewers’ yeast. this is the first time that brewers’ yeast, which makes much better beer than ordinary yeast has been found in a raid in Milwaukee.