Parched Eagle co-owner Jim Goronson taps beer at the soft open Saturday.
The Madison area's latest brewpub, the Parched Eagle, held a soft open Saturday night, and plans its official grand opening for this Thursday, April 30, which coincides with the start of Madison Craft Beer Week.
The Parched Eagle, 5440 Willow Rd. in the town of Westport, is the latest small brewery to open in Dane County and among a half-dozen others that could be open by end of the year. It’s part of an emerging movement of small brewers, often making just a few barrels of beer at a time. These are sometimes referred to has nano-breweries.
The Parched Eagle held its initial soft opening on Saturday.
The Parched Eagle occupies a small store front in a strip mall on Highway M near the intersection with Hwy 113. Nearby are several marinas, senior housing at Westshire Village, the Naut-i-Gal and Mariner's Inn, and a bar called the Willows. The space, formerly a takeout version of Bunky's called Bunky's Deli, is just 1,500 square feet, but there's room for a beautiful hand-crafted wooden bar and a handful of tables. On Saturday night, an adjoining dining room was filled with drinkers and Irish music from the Kissers.
The brew house is mostly electric, a one-barrel system similar to what large-scale homebrewers might use, only with a few more bells and whistles to accommodate the demands of commercial use.
The soft opening was a tune-up for co-owners Jim Goronson and Tom Christie. They offered their beers to a packed house, which shows the level of local interest in craft beer. With a few emails, a mention on WORT-FM and word of mouth, the place was filled with craft beer fans, and at times the line waiting for beer extended through the front door. “I’m overwhelmed," said Goronson. "This night has been amazing. I’m worried about running out of beer, and we’ve only been open for 49 minutes.”.
Goronson handles the brewing duties at Parched Eagle. He’s anticipating he’ll have to brew two to three times a week to keep up with demand.
John Irwin of Westport lives nearby: “I’m ecstatic — this is a brewery I can walk to,” he said. Elizabeth McMahon came from Janesville with friends to enjoy opening night at the Parched Eagle. Her beer of choice was the robust porter.
On Saturday night Goronson was serving four of his beers: the brewpub’s namesake Parched Eagle Golden Ale (kölsch), Crane Ale (American pale ale), Janethan (robust porter), and Verily (Belgian dubbel).
All four beers were solid examples of their styles. The Parched Eagle kölsch was clean and light. The Crane Ale was sharp with tropical grapefruit from the hops. Verily, the Belgian dubbel, was complex, offering a light yeastiness and hints of dark fruit. And the robust porter was full-bodied with smooth roasted maltiness and a light coffee bitterness.
While the Parched Eagle did not serve food during Saturday’s soft open, it does plan to eventually offer light food options, including soups, appetizers, wraps and panini.
For this Thursday’s grand opening, Goronson hopes to have his Hop-Bearer India Pale Ale on tap (it was still fermenting and wasn’t ready to be served), and several guest taps from local brewing colleagues like Vintage Brewing, Next Door Brewing, House of Brews and Karben4. He’ll also offer Greenview Alt’s gluten-free brews in bottles.
On Saturday, May 9, the Parched Eagle will host its special release party for Craft Beer Week, showcasing its American ale, Harpy. Parched Eagle will open at 3 p.m. on April 30 for its official debut.