Milwaukee taps new craft breweries

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By Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Thursday, January 30, 2014

MILWAUKEE—Seven new craft breweries opened in late 2013 or plan to open this year.

Not since 1840 have Milwaukee-area beer drinkers enjoyed such an embarrassment of sudsy riches in their own backyard.

The last time the city had such a bounty of breweries, back when there were 26 in town, was before refrigerated boxcars made shipping beer more profitable than selling to the neighbors, Milwaukee historian John Gurda said.

This burst of breweries repeats the history that made Milwaukee famous.

Jeff Hamilton, president of Sprecher Brewing and past president of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild, said Milwaukee is finally catching up with the nationwide explosion in craft beer. The city lags behind Madison in the number of craft breweries, and Wisconsin trails other states in the number of new breweries.

What's old is new again as beer drinkers look for local in a pint glass. Here are breweries that have recently opened or are set to open soon:


6204 W. State St., Wauwatosa.

Opened: Sept. 19

Beer vibe: Party where the beer is made. The facility is a former carpentry shop.

A bar, picnic tables and games such as pinball, darts and beanbags. Capacity is 49 people. Open 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays and 1 to 11 p.m. Saturdays, with happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Check the Big Head Brewing Co. Facebook page for hours.

Owner Andrew Dillard started as a home brewer who wanted to make a diabetic-friendly beer. He has a few on tap, and visitors can bring food in. Growlers are $12 with a deposit.


Waukesha office and warehouse

Opened: October

Beer vibe: It's a family affair. Four brothers-Robin, Tommy, Jimmy and Andy Gohsman-provide the recipe that is brewed at Sand Creek Brewery in Black River Falls. After watching bartenders and others blend beers such as a black and tan, the home-brewing brothers came up with a plan for blending the beers during the brewing process.

The lightest flavor is Whipper Snapper, which combines wheat and amber. Sibling Rivalry blends blonde ale, brown ale and red ale. Relative Madness is a pairing of blonde ale and porter styles. Prodigal Son is a mix of IPA and Cream Ale.

Beers are available at several liquor stores, as well as Taylor's People's Park in Waukesha and Prodigal Gastropub, and at stores and restaurants in Madison.


1079 American Way, Verona.

Opened: Nov. 1

Beer vibe: Production brewery with a tap room and guided tours. The 2014 goal is 13,800 barrels.

"It's a new brewery but not new brewery guys," said Carl Nolen, a former president of Capital Brewing and the founder and CEO of Wisconsin Brewing.

Nolen started the brewery with his brother, Mark, and Kirby Nelson, the former brewmaster at Capital Brewing, by making the beers in Madison-area brewpubs and trying them out on patrons-four styles, 10,000 samples and 6,000 people filling out comment cards to help ensure success in the new building. "With so many new breweries in the world, we wanted to be different," Nolen said.


18720 Pleasant St., Brookfield.

Opening: February or March, depending on state permits.

Beer vibe: Minneapolis chill and a goal of 1,000 barrels.

Brewery manager Bryan Dallmann watched what happened in Minneapolis when breweries won the right to serve beer in their tasting rooms: Suddenly, there was laughter and night life and food trucks. Expect much of the same when Biloba, named for the ginko tree, opens. To start, there will be four beers, "we're confident we'll probably make" and build up to eight to 10 rotating taps, including amber cream ale, Belgian wit, a Pilsener flavored with maple sap and some barrel-aged lambic sours. Biloba also will sell Pilgrim Road Cream Ale, a recipe developed by Douglas Romfoe in a contest the brewery held.

Designated as a microbrewery, Biloba won't be serving food, but food will be available from nearby restaurants and possibly food trucks.


2273 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee.

Opening: Looking for a February opening.

Beer vibe: Expect lots of variety. Owner and home brewer Matt McCulloch poured his savings and sweat equity into building a brewpub. He promises German- and Belgian-style beers, but "ever since I started brewing, I've rarely brewed the same thing twice." Four or five beers will remain consistent on taps, but others will rotate.

Although he plans to serve appetizers and pizza cooked in a convection oven, McCulloch figures food won't be a problem for customers based on his Bay View location. "Step out the door and go 15 feet you'll find a restaurant," he said. McCulloch will feature a beer he calls Pryor Commitment, a double IPA made with water from Bay View's artisan well. A portion of proceeds from the sale of the beer will go to the Bay View Historical Society.

District 14 also will sell two sizes of growlers. a one-liter ($7 to $20) and half-gallon ($12 to $24). Prices don't include the container.


706 S. 5th St., Milwaukee.

Opening: Looking at March or April

Beer vibe: Unique. Brenner will be a production brewery with an art studio next door.

The former art gallery owner studied at Chicago's Siebel Institute of Technology and the Doemens Academy in Munich to learn how to brew beer. The plan is to have three types of beer available in stores and four or five on tap in bars. He plans a small tasting room and studios and a gallery next door. The bottle labels also will be works created by local artists.


Baileys Harbor

Opened: Started brewing in June at Sand Creek. Plan to open a Baileys Harbor brewery in May.

Beer vibe: The self-proclaimed "gypsy brewers" are making plans for a home of their own. John McMahon and his son, Danny McMahon, a home brewer, started out wanting to create a brewpub but decided on a production brewery. They plan to build in an old feed mill and brew seasonal beers and, eventually, sour beers.

Currently brewing 120 barrels a month, Door County makes beers with names that will make you smile. Polka King is a porter. Little Sister is a wit bier. Goat Parade is an imperial stout. It's not brewed here, but it is available at the Nomad World Pub, Ray's Liquors, Sugar Maple, Bel-Air Cantina, Tess, Discount Liquor and Miller Time Pub.

Last updated: 11:07 am Friday, January 31, 2014

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