no. 209

Last month, a narrow, unassuming two-block alley on Milwaukee's historic East Side was repurposed into a bright, beautiful open art gallery—Black Cat Alley. Local artists were invited to create murals on the alley's brick walls with the purpose of inspiring local community and elevating Milwaukee as a cultural destination.

One piece I found particularly intriguing was a mural by Brandon Minga, a Milwaukee artist who specializes in mixed media collages. This piece, as well as many of his other works, feature historic breweries of the area. 

"I created it to raise awareness about the significance of beer and manufacturing in the history of Milwaukee," Brandon explains. 

There isn't, and never was, a Catz Brewing Company in Milwaukee—Brandon's piece is referring to the historic Blatz Brewing Company. Milwaukee was once the self-proclaimed "Beer Capitol of the World,” and at one time, "Blatz—Milwaukee's Finest Beer" was a powerhouse in the Milwaukee brewing scene until being acquired by Pabst in 1958. 

The Blatz beer label is still produced by MillerCoors, and there's a storied history involving  Milwaukee's first bottled beer, surviving a fire and prohibition, and multiple acquisitions. The history of how the brewing industry shaped Milwaukee to the city it is today is fascinating.

—Matthew Sampson