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New brewing company might build facility in Janesville

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JAMES P. LEUTE
June 25, 2010
— A startup brewing company is headquartered in Janesville, but it’s using a contract brewer in another part of the state until it can build its own brewery.

When Lead Feather Brewing builds a facility, it could be in Janesville, Fort Atkinson or Jefferson, said Denise Harris, a company spokeswoman.


Lead Feather Brewing formed in November as a limited liability company. Richard A. Austin of Janesville is the corporation’s registered agent, according to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.


Harris would not identify any of the owners other than to say they are from the area, which is why they would like to build a brewery locally.


Local economic development experts and city officials said they were not aware of Lead Feather or its plans.


Harris said the company plans to market its own brands and partner with private label customers.


Lead Feather has partnered with Wisconsin Hospitality Group, the state’s largest restaurant franchise company, as the exclusive provider of private label “Hodag” beer.


Starting on Thursday, all 40 of the hospitality group’s Applebee’s Grill & Bar restaurants will sell Hodag.


“The beer is a honey wheat ale made with pure Wisconsin clover honey and a light wheat flavor with a slightly sweet finish,” Lead Feather brew master Richard Ruscher said in a news release, which carries a Janesville dateline.


Lead Feather expects to launch its four primary brands in the next year through partnerships with River City Distribution of Watertown, which operates in 15 counties in southeastern Wisconsin.


Following an oxymoron theme, Harris said the four brands would be “Dark Star,” a brown ale; “Crash Landing,” a pale ale; “Pretty Ugly,” an India pale ale, and “True Blarney,” an Irish stout.


Lead Feather developed the brands after market research, including a blind taste test with industry professionals, she said.


Harris said the company will use contract manufacturing until its own brewery is built.


She said the company is trying to raise capital from private investors to support its brewery development, brand establishment and sales and distribution networks.



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