The Harken Factory Beer Machine

Published on January 7th, 2020

German immigrants brought a heritage of beer making to Wisconsin. As a result, brewing rapidly became an important state industry. Wisconsin boasted nearly 160 breweries by the Civil War.

Milwaukee earned a reputation as “the beer capital of the world” as the home of such prominent companies as Miller, Pabst, and Schlitz. Today, the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team pays homage to the city’s brewing tradition.

Not to be outdone, Pewaukee to the west likes beer too as noted in this report by Harken, famous for their yacht equipment, but also for their Midwest approach to boats and business:


For portions of the past five decades, this unassuming self-service electric steel and plastic refrigerated box has quietly stood watch, ready to refresh.

Still around Harken’s Pewaukee factory are some folks who remember when the Pepsi machine was repurposed to serve beer for after-hours consumption, originally by employees building the world’s fastest ‘70s and ‘80s vintage Vanguard Olympic 470s and Finns.

The grand prix Olympic-aspiring customers often showed up and slept in their vans for weeks while their future gold-medal-winning rocket ships were releasing from molds and getting rigged.

In the intervening years, this functional blue beauty has continued to take the edge off many a Block Assembler or Custom Gear Machinist’s day.

With all of Harken’s mission-critical sophisticated machinery, in 2010 it was carefully moved from the vintage Wisconsin Avenue Harken Pewaukee facility to its current Harken World Headquarters location, all the while never missing a beat and never passing through a price increase. 12-ounce longneck bottles of domestic suds still cost a now corporately-subsidized 50¢.

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