About an hour's drive northwest of Madison, in Sauk County, lies the city of Reedsburg. At the corner of Main Street and North Webb Avenue, near the bridge over the Baraboo River, is a worthy stop: The Corner Pub & Brewery.
In 1995, Pete Peterson, an avid homebrewer and restaurant owner, decided to combine his interests by adding a small brewing operation to the supper club he owned on the outskirts of Reedsburg. The establishment became known as the EndeHouse Brewery and Restaurant, and proved to be very successful.
However, Peterson had ambitions of relocating the restaurant to downtown Reedsburg, and when an opportunity arose in 2001, he sold EndeHouse and purchased the oldest operating tavern in Sauk County, located in a prime location at 100 Main Street. The tavern has a mural on its side wall commemorating the Reedsburg area's historical importance as a hops producer well over a century ago. Known as "Clossey's" for 65 years and operated by a local family, he renamed it The Corner Pub & Brewery.
Peterson used the change in name and building as an opportunity to consolidate the restaurant's menu to simpler pub fare and put a greater focus on brewery operations. Today, the Corner Pub serves burgers, salads, seafood, and a variety of sides including excellent sweet potato fries. Vegetarian options are also available in the form of veggie burgers and several kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches, which are made on homemade bread.
The food is quite good, but beer is the real star at the Corner Pub. Peterson personally brews a variety of beers from his own recipes, including American Pale Ale, Bock, Weiss, Stout, "Old Gold Lager," and an interesting Smoked Porter (see my review here). The two most requested brews are the India Pale Ale and the Porter, but all of the varieties have proved popular.
Peterson has no plans to expand his production capacity beyond the 100 barrels per year that the Corner Pub currently offers. Peterson prefers a small capacity because it allows him greater flexibility in brewing, and he does not have to commit to a large volume of any particular beer. The limited capacity also eliminates the need for costly bottling and labeling equipment; all the beer produced is consumed on tap at the restaurant. Finally, Peterson keeps his production capacity low because he prefers keeping the focus on making the highest quality beer available.
Peterson has also implemented several other sustainable features into the brewery at the Corner Pub. The mash tub and boil kettle used in the brewing process are food preparation vats which were purchased from a school cafeteria, and converted for use in beer making. Also, he currently uses only American grown hops and grains in order to help support American farmers.
Perhaps the tastiest sustainability initiative at the Corner Pub is that the collection of grains that have been "spent" in the brewing process, are then baked into loaves of whole grain bread served at the restaurant and available for carryout. The same bread you might have had on that grilled cheese sandwich.