The local craft beer scene continues to grow, with multimillion-dollar expansion projects planned for New Glarus Brewing, Capital Brewery and Ale Asylum. Smaller startups keep coming -- Karben4, One Barrel and Next Door, for instance. Even Hydro Street Brewing in downtown Columbus is expanding.
And there are more on the way! Some operations are in the planning stages, looking to complete a business plan, find financing, secure a location and obtain their permits. Others are just prepping to launch.
Former Wisconsin Brewers Guild president Jeff Hamilton of Sprecher Brewery believes the trend is likely to continue, reflecting consumer interest in buying and consuming local. Hamilton groups Madison with beer cities like Austin, Portland and Philadelphia, with the demographics to help craft beer take off.
"Madison is the craft beer mecca of Wisconsin," Hamilton says.
Blair Street Brew & BBQ opened last May. Owner Nick Sierzant is getting the food side of the business established and looking to install a three- to five-barrel brewhouse by early 2014. Sierzant has already purchased several pieces of brewing equipment, including used fermenters and a brew kettle. However, he has yet to complete the government permitting processes.
He says he'd like to find a passionate homebrewer who's willing to work with him on brewing and setting up the brewery. Ultimate goal? "By January I want to have my own beer on tap," says Sierzant.
He's also considering starting with a contract beer or two that would be made by another brewery but sold exclusively by Blair Street. Eventually Sierzant wants to offer two to three house beers that will be served only on draught. Growlers may be offered eventually.
Trevor Easton of Greenview Brewing hopes that by early November, he'll be making Greenview Alt Brew, a gluten-free beer. This summer, Easton entered into an agreement with Madison's House of Brews to use a small, isolated area of that brewery for making his beers.
Easton has also developed a homebrew kit for those wanting to make gluten-free beer on their own. The $45 kit for a gluten-free saison should be available this month at the Silly Yak Bakery, 7866 Mineral Point Rd., and the Wine and Hop Shop, 1931 Monroe St., among others.
The latest trend to hit Madison's brewery scene is using social media to determine what beers get made and when. MobCraft Beer announced in May that it would use crowdsourcing to solicit ideas for its brews. Based on online voting and pre-orders, recipes will be developed, then brewed and bottled for customers.
MobCraft currently makes its beers with Page Buchanan at House of Brews. It plans to use a liquor store in Rockford, Ill., to distribute bottles by mail to more than 30 states.
However, licensing delays have so far prevented that from happening. In the meantime, MobCraft beers have been available for pickup at House of Brews. Several have also appeared on local restaurant taps and at beer festivals throughout the summer. New MobCraft beers come out roughly every month, and because of their unusual genesis, upcoming releases are yet to be determined. Company owner Giotto Troia says to watch for a Blood Orange Green Tea Hefeweizen later in the month.
Stoughton may soon have its own brewpub, called Viking, if Vik Malling can put together a financing plan. Malling retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2005 and moved to Stoughton soon after, to be closer to his grandchildren. He's developed a business plan for a seven-barrel brewhouse he's hoping to build within Stoughton's century-old Tobacco Junction Warehouse. His plans call for renovating about 4,500 square feet of space, constructing a U-shaped bar and installing a new brewing system.
Malling hopes to offer a tavern-like setting with up to 12 beers, including guest taps. He's set himself a deadline of the end of September to secure financing, and he wants to open by the end of the year.
Wisconsin Brewing is about to fire up its new brew kettle for the first time. Shipments of malt started arriving at the new brewery in Verona on Sept. 6. Brewmaster Kirby Nelson plans to have beer for release by Nov. 1, his birthday.
The German-designed brewhouse can make 80-barrel batches of beer at a time, with potential for an annual capacity of around 100,000 barrels.
Nelson still isn't saying exactly what he'll offer for his initial beers. Over the summer, he made several pilot brews at the downtown Great Dane and Vintage Brewing. They included a golden lager, a porter, an American IPA and a light-bodied session IPA. Nelson hints that he'll have at least four styles on tap in the brewery's taproom for opening day, which is not yet set.
Blair Street Brew and BBQ
blairbbq.com, 605 E. Washington Ave., Madison, 608-257-9000
facebook.com/pages/Greenview-Brewing-LLC, 4539 Helgesen Dr., Madison, 608-352-3373
mobcraftbeer.com, 4539 Helgesen Dr., Madison
Viking Brew Pub
515 E. Main St. (U.S. 51), Stoughton
Wisconsin Brewing Company
wisconsinbrewingcompany.com, 1079 American Way, Verona, 608-235-2792