Hop Haus Brewing Company
Hop Haus Brewing is a brewpub being planned for Verona, making it the third brewery in the Dane County suburb.
Verona is emerging as a craft beer destination within Dane County. Hop Haus Brewing is poised to become the community's third brewery, joining Gray's Tied House and the relatively new Wisconsin Brewing Company.
The brewpub is being planned for 231 S. Main St., in the heart of Verona's downtown, where business is picking up due to nearby software giant Epic. It's also adjacent to the Military Ridge State Trail, which will bring thirsty bikers and hikers to its doorstep.
Barring any major setbacks in renovations or equipment delivery, the brewpub could be open by early summer, says owner Phil Hoechst of Verona. Hoechst, 33, who was born in Germany, grew up in Fitchburg, where he moved when his father took a position as a physicist with UW-Madison and its Synchrotron Radiation Center in Stoughton.
Hoechst plans to make his brewpub an integral part of the community, and he seeks to emulate the culture of a traditional German tavern or Gasthaus. "I like the German idea of being a community gathering spot, where everyone sits at big tables and ends up meeting persons next to them," he says. "It will be a place where people can come together and enjoy a beer and have conversations."
Hoechst intends to eventually offer about a dozen beers on tap. Most of those will be house-made brews. His initial plans call for mostly ales, including pale ales, IPAs, ambers, Belgian styles and a few lighter alternatives. "My favorite ones are IPAs and Belgians, but we'll explore everything and have something for everybody," he says.
The Hop Haus will serve lighter food items and tavern-style appetizers. However, Hoechst intends to work with other local food providers, who will deliver to the brewpub.
"We want to support local business and help each other grow," he notes. Hoechst also hopes that food trucks will find his brewpub and make it a regular vending destination.
The brewpub will initially be open from 3 to 11 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. It may eventually be open more days of the week, as well as for special events, once it's established, says Hoechst.
Previous tenants in the building have included Cousins Subs, Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream and Figaro's Pizza. It's been vacant for over six months. Hoechst says he is working through the final details of a lease agreement, and plans to begin renovations in February.
The brewpub's design calls for 2,500 square feet, which will include an L-shaped bar, patron seating, windows that look out on Main Street, and a 650-square-foot enclosed brew house. Hoechst plans to use recycled wood and other reclaimed products in the design. The brew house will feature a new three-barrel system, one very similar to another used by Next Door Brewing in Madison.
Hoechst currently works as a physical therapist for the state of Wisconsin. He learned to homebrew several years ago while living in Denver. After moving back to Verona in 2012, his interest in homebrewing intensified.
"I spend tons of my time around beer, and everything is beer-related, so this seems very logical to me," Hoechst says. He has a 10-gallon electric homebrewing system set up in the basement of his Verona home, and has used it to develop a set of recipes that will become his initial offerings.
Hoechst's Scotch Ale was named best beer in the Strong Scotch Ale category in the 2013 edition of the Grumpy Troll Challenge, an annual competition sponsored by the Mount Horeb brewpub. That Scotch Ale is one of the brews he's planning to have on opening day. Nearly all of the beers that the Hop Haus brews will be served in-house, but if he can keep up with demand, Hoechst is open to offering a few kegs to interested local taverns.
Hoechst says he doesn't plan on leaving his current job, at least not right away. His wife, Sara, 34, will help with business and marketing. She currently works as a manager for the Tipsy Cow in downtown Madison.
City officials in Verona are encouraged by what a brewpub might do to reinvigorate the community's downtown, and the community's Common Council approved the Hoechst's application for a conditional use permit back in September.
"The city is planning streetscaping and parking improvements, and, along with the existing businesses, a brewpub in the downtown could help establish Verona as a destination," says Adam Sayre, Verona's director of planning and development.
Hoechst is excited about all the support he's been getting. He recently met with Wisconsin Brewing's Kirby Nelson, who offered encouragement.
"We want to have something we are proud of in our town," says Hoechst. "Beer is a great way to bring people together and it makes them happy. The coolest thing -- having a job you like and also making people happy."