A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press the sides are near an agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract hadn't been completed Wednesday night.
The 41-year-old Hoffman had pitched for the San Diego Padres since 1993, but the team recently withdrew its offer for next season.
Hoffman posted 30 saves last season, then became a free agent. The NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers showed considerable interest in the right-hander. Sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney the Dodgers have offered a one-year deal to Hoffman, 41, who has earned all but two of his 554 career saves for the Padres over 16 seasons. The offer also includes a club option for 2010.
But Hoffman appears set to pick the pitching-needy Brewers.
Milwaukee won the NL wild card last year and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Philadelphia. Bolstering the bullpen was a big need for the Brewers this winter -- Salomon Torres, who led the team with 28 saves, retired and reliever Eric Gagne filed for free agency.
The Brewers recently signed reliever Jorge Julio, but kept looking for help.
Hoffman converted 30 of 34 chances last season, increasing his saves record to 554. The face of the Padres' franchise since Tony Gwynn retired, Hoffman had once hoped to hear AC/DC's "Hells Bells" in San Diego for the rest of his career.
Contract talks with the Padres soured, however, and the team pulled its offer of $4 million for 2009 with a club option for $4 million in 2010.
San Diego finished last in the NL West, 21 games behind the Dodgers.
Hoffman was 3-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 48 games. Relying on a wicked changeup, he has saved at least 30 games in 13 seasons, another major league record.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.