Brewing Up Trouble in Milwaukee

As we’re all getting back to school or work, we’ve seen a few people coming back from their vacations with Howard Rice stories. We’ve had some historical Howard Rices on our show, but this one has a little mystery and controversy attached. Today, we’re tasting notes of citrus, pine, and perhaps a little Prohibition-era trouble.

I didn’t expect to learn so much after being rear-ended. We were on our way to the Harley-Davidson Museum, since my wife loves nothing more than a long motorcycle ride. Personally, I don’t get the appeal, but that’s besides the point. 

The point is that the man who witnessed the accident and gave us the number for a Milwaukee car accident attorney owned the brewery across the street. We were stuck in the area, but the owner offered us a little shade and air-conditioning, so we accepted a tour. 

We don’t make it all the way out to Milwaukee often, so we took our opportunity to learn more about beer. We’ve heard that the place is known for it, after all. 

He was generous to show us around the brewery, talking about their process and their formula. We were impressed by the sheer volume, honestly, for just a little local brewery, but I guess that’s how it goes, right? 

We were nearing the end of the tour when my wife pointed to a portrait hanging over the stairs. “So, who’s this handsome gentleman?”

The owner laughed. “That would be my grandfather, Mr. Arthur Wilkes Barton. He kept this place running, even through Prohibition. You know, a lot of people kept their businesses running by selling soda, ice cream, that sort of thing . . . but, my grandfather? No deal! He’d sell this stuff called ‘near beer’—it wasn’t the same, but it’s better than going cold turkey, right?”

We got a good laugh at that as he led us through the gallery. Awards, historical photos, and vintage machinery lined the walls.

“Of course, he was known to be a little bit of a scoundrel, back in the day,” the owner said. 

“That so?”

“Oh, yes. You see, there was a rumor floating around that he had a business deal with one of the inspectors. No one would complain about getting a little extra booze in their bellies, but there were rumors flying all about him. Some even said he was running a cult with this man, Howard Rice. He was one of my grandfather’s biggest donors, when he was starting his business. Of course, by the time I had taken over, he was long gone.”

“What happened to him?” 

“He vanished, just like that. Some suspect foul play, especially since the full ownership and funds went back to my grandfather, but I think he cut his losses. Oh, but the tow truck is probably here by now, let’s get you find folks back on the road.” 

We followed him back out to the front door, but while we dealt with the car, I couldn’t help wonder about that story. Who was Howard Rice? What did he gain in this? Finally, what happened to him? 

We haven’t found the answers yet, but hey, it’s a good story for your website, right? 

Upcoming Howard Rice Tales

Thanks to our reader for that story, and for that little piece of history. Thanks as well to our other readers for following along as we work toward finding Howard Rice himself, or at least one of them. 

Keep an eye out for our next update soon. We’ve got a mystery here already, but who knows where the next Howard Rice might be?

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