New brewery coming to downtown Whitewater

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Andrea Anderson
Friday, November 22, 2013

WHITEWATER — Four friends gathered around a table at Lakefront Pub for their weekly business meeting.

They ate, had a beer—maybe two—and talked about the progress of their recent business endeavor involving one of their favorite beverages and topics: beer.

The friends turned business partners are opening their own brewery in downtown Whitewater.

Second Salem Brewing Company will be on the northeast corner of the Lakefront Pub, 111 W. Whitewater St..

It will operate separate from the restaurant after it is up and running in January.

The business partners--three Whitewater businesses owners and a beer historian--started thinking of opening the nano-brewery about a year ago.

Their reasons vary for wanting to create an 800-square-foot brewery, but all share a love of quality craft brews and a hope of revitalizing downtown Whitewater.

The partners are:

-- Christ Christon, owner of Lakefront Pub.

-- Karl Brown, beer historian and UW-Whitewater history professor.

-- Joe Coburn, co-owner of the Coburn Co., a dairy equipment and farm supply provider in Whitewater.

-- Thayer Coburn, co-owner of the Coburn Co..

“We see this as being a real draw for tourists and an interesting thing to bring downtown,” Christon said. “If we can do something to bring people downtown, it will be good for the community and economy.”

Joe Coburn said there's a market for a craft brewery in Whitewater, and he's confident the four business partners have what it takes to be successful.

“We have an experienced brewmaster who has opened commercial breweries,” Coburn said. “But then also Christ has operational experience running food service retail operations for almost 15 years.”

The brewery will be equipped to produce eight to 10 kegs of beer a month. The short-term goal is to have four flagship beers on tap by the end of the school year.

Working in the brewery will be Brown, the beer historian and UW-Whitewater history professor, and one assistant.

Brown has worked overseas in managing and installing breweries in Japan and Greece and worked at perfecting his own home brews in the United States.

He said another goal is to be environmentally conscious. The brewery will be entirely electric and donate leftover grain to local farmers.

Down the line, the brewery will convert an unused section of Lakefront Pub into a taproom.

People will be able to taste the beers from the brewery and other breweries, eat appetizers and eventually go on a tour of the brewery.

A year or two from now, the partners hope to be in the position where they need to look for a larger facility to increase production.

The business owners aren't worried about the economy. They referred to the craft brewing industry as robust.

“In 2009, craft brewing had a 9 percent growth, and that was the year every single industry tanked,” Brown said. “Craft brewing is still going strong.”

Market saturation is a concern, Brown said, but not in Whitewater.

They don't seem to be worried about competition, either.

Thayer Coburn said the craft brewing industry is a friendly community. Brewers share experiences on what works and what doesn't.

“A lot of the mindset in the craft brewing community is they're not fighting each other, not trying to grab market share from one another,” Coburn said. “They're trying to grab it from Miller, Coors.”

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