An old Milwaukee brewer plans a homecoming

Last Updated Jul 15, 2015 5:24 PM EDT

Pabst Brewing Co. is returning to its roots.

More than 18 years after Pabst shut down its century-old brewery in the city known for beer and brats, the company says it'll open a microbrewery at its former site on Milwaukee's west side in the summer of 2016.

"When I came to visit, it was pretty obvious that we should start here if we're going to go back to our roots," Eugene Kashper, Pabst Brewing's chairman and chief executive officer, said.

While much of the former brewery buildings have been redeveloped, Pabst plans to brew again in a former German Methodist church built in 1871 and then sold in 1898 to Pabst, which used it for an employee training and conference center.

Pabst, along with Schlitz and Miller, were integral to Milwaukee's image and its economy for generations. But Schlitz closed shop in 1982, and Pabst exited its Milwaukee operations at the end of 1996.

Kashper expects he and his developer partners will spend between $3 million and $5 million renovating the long vacant site.

However Pabst Blue Ribbon, otherwise known as PBR, is still made in Milwaukee by MillersCoors.

Pabst was sold in November to Blue Ribbon Intermediate Holdings, a partnership between Kashper and San Francisco investment fund TSG Consumer Partners.

But reclaiming a piece of its past doesn't mean the company will relocate its headquarters from Los Angeles, where its prior owners moved the company from suburban Chicago after buying Pabst in 2010.

In addition to brewing many of its iconic pre-prohibition brands such as Old Tankard Ale, Kloster Beer, Bock and Andecker, Pabst intends to brew new craft beers inspired by recipes from the company's archives, which date back to 1840.