Union Corners Brewery: Madison’s Newest Brewery Opens with Emphasis on Community Involvement

DSC_0338.JPGMadison’s newest brewery will open its doors to the public for the first time at 5 p.m. today. Patrons will not only be welcome to enjoy the new brews at Union Corners Brewery but are encouraged to help create them as well.

“Anyone can come in with a beer idea can come in and fill out a submission,” said Owner Eric Peterson. “We go through and pick one we think has a lot of potential and create the recipe based on that concept.”

After a recipe has been formulated by the brewing team, Union Corners Brewery will schedule a day and time to brew the beer and allow community members to reserve a spot to observe that brewing. Participants can hang out in the classroom next to the brew space and watch the live feed via brewery camera, or they can watch from within the brewery. Head Brewer John Puchalski will explain the process step-by-step and also talk about the recipe and the history of the style.

Those who attend the brewing will have the exclusive ability to order growlers of that beer. The person who suggested the beer idea will have some say in the naming of the brew and will work with Puchalski and staff to find a name that works best.

Puchalski has been brewing for almost a decade. Before starting at Union Corners Brewery, he was the manager at the Brew and Grow hydroponic gardening and homebrew supply shop formerly located at 1525 Williamson St.

“Working at Brew and Grow was a great opportunity. I was working on a pilot system and my beer definitely improved over the time I was there,” said Puchalski. “I really enjoy brewing some of the lesser-known traditional styles. I really like shining light on styles you don’t see a whole lot of. I think if people give some of these beers a chance they might become one of their new favorite styles.”

Union Corners Brewery will open with a limited lineup of three beers brewed in collaboration with friends at Capital Brewery and Rockhound Brewing Co. Below are the initial offerings and how Puchalski describes them:

Kentucky Common: A dark cream ale brewed with corn. Expect a light-bodied, easy-drinking beer with a roasty finish.

Roasted English Porter: The name says it all. Puchalski loves a roasty Porter and brews this one with four kinds of roasted malts and two grades of crystal malt to give this brew a roasty, but not sweet, flavor. A total malt bomb.

Belgian Single: Essentially a sessionable Belgian Pale Ale. The base beer is similar to a Pilsner and is somewhat aggressively hopped. A floral cousin to a Hefeweizen with a Belgian twist but not so much of the banana esters one would expect to taste in a Hefeweizen.

The three initial brews were not yet named as of the writing of this article, but Peterson says they will all have names by opening on Friday. Union Corners Brewery will carry kombucha, ciders, nitro cold brew coffee on draught, and wine. Craft beers from other breweries will occupy some of the 24 available draught lines as the brewing team ramps up beer production in-house. The brewery will also have a full chef-crafted menu and table service available.

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From left to right: Head Chef Joe Tharp, Head Brewer John Puchalski, and Owner Eric Peterson

“Our food is outstanding,” said Peterson. “We really went all out and have good chefs. Not just traditional brew pub fare.”

The final menu will be released on Friday when Union Corners Brewery opens and will include Head Chef Joe Tharp and his team’s house-made ice cream. Once some heavy dark beers are brewed, the brewery plans to offer ice cream floats featuring the house-made ice cream to serve in the restaurant and the patio, once that opens up for the season.

The atmosphere in the taproom/restaurant has an industrial look and feel to it, which compliments the brewery’s brand and emphasizes the namesake of the Union Corners neighborhood and hard-working union people.

“We wanted a simple yet impactful logo that incorporates the fact that we are a brewery along with the theme of union corners,” said Peterson of the bold, gear-toothed, single hop cone that adorns the entrance to the building. “We have multiple versions incorporating our logo that pay homage to the different trade crafts. We decided to play on that along with a steampunk look and feel.”

ucbPeterson says that in addition to the cog logo currently used as the brewery’s Facebook profile, they will also be releasing more one-off designs that similarly feature other trades such as electrical and plumbing. Speaking of plumbing, Union Corners may very well have the coolest urinal in town.

For more information visit the Union Corners Brewery Facebook page or their website at unioncornersbrewery.com.

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MobCraft

Henry Schwartz realized when he was 19 years old that it was legal for him to buy brewing ingredients, but not legal to buy beer. A few years later he and two friends (Giotto Troia and Andrew Gierczak) started MobCraft and recently released its first commercially available beer: Participation Pale Ale. The malt-forward heavily-hopped pale ale was the result of crowd-sourcing which differentiates MobCraft from the rest of the pack.

Each beer brewed by MobCraft is the result of an online vote where fans can submit votes and even recipes for which beer they would like to see brewed next. But, the video can probably explain it better than I can.

Currently, MobCraft is brewing at the House of Brews off of Stoughton Road in Madison, Wisconsin where they lease space for the tanks they bought from brewmaster Page Buchannan. MobCraft hopes to be able to build their own brewhouse in the near future when they plan to add a subscription option tho their beer distribution.

MobCraft-beerThe subscription would involve a three, six, or 12 month commitment where subscribers would get a four-pack of 22oz bottles of each brew delivered either to a local pick-up location or to their home. The home delivery option would be a bit more expensive as it would involve the beer being (for legal reasons) back to their homes. The beer will cost an estimated $25 per four-pack before shipping charges, but Schwartz says the crowd-sourced beer will be worth it.

“The focus of the company will be to make really cool beers,” said Schwartz. “Not just Ambers and Pale Ales, but indigenous beers with non-traditional brewing ingredients.”

Currently MobCraft’s Participation Pale Ale is Available at Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace, the Majestic, 8 Seasons Grille and the Lakefront Pub in Whitewater. MobCraft only made seven barrels, so I recommend trying this beer while you can, because before long the beer will be replaced by the highest vote getter. The Most Mobbed Double IPA is next on their brewing schedule.

The Americanization of Beer Styles

Below is a link to an interesting article by Charlie Papazian explaining how homebrewers and craft brewers in America have altered classic beer styles, and in many cases, invented their own. I would agree with most of the article except I think Papazian fails to mention that most of the Americanization involves making beers with higher original gravities leading to higher alcohol content than the beers Americans were originally trying to mimic.

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-americanization-of-beer-styles

Sprecher Brewing Introduces Hard Root Beer

Probably about seven years ago or so, my cousin Josh and I went on a tour at the Sprecher Brewery because I was writing a story for the Milwaukee Alcoholmanac…and because we both really like beer. At the end of the tour, Josh asked the tour guide if they ever thought about making a fermented version of their world famous Root Beer. He didn’t answer the question. What he did do was go down to the basement soon returning with a keg of something labeled XX.

Jason Fredrickson, the guide who first introduced me to the XX Sprecher Hard Root Beer

Jason Fredrickson, the guide who first introduced me to the XX Sprecher Hard Root Beer

Sure enough, Sprecher had been experimenting with the fermented root beer for some time and would occasionally have it on tap in their tasting room. We were impressed by the brew and it went to the back of my mind until Josh posted this link on Facebook today:

Sprecher Brewing to unveil new Hard Root Beer

Sure enough, after all these years they have finally decided to package and market what they are calling Hard Root Beer, but what to me will always be the basement secret known as the XX. The Baraboo News Republic article quotes Sprecher president Jeff Hamilton as saying “We are being very cautious to make sure that there is a distinction between our regular root beer and this rather adult version,” he said. “We’ve made sure the bottle looks completely different than our root beer bottle. It’s a different size, and the labels look different.”

I am not normally a fan of sweet malt beverages–girly drinks if you will–but I really remember this one being good and I will certainly be reviewing it for Brewsconsin as soon as it becomes available here in Madison, WI. Thanks to Sprecher for always making good beer and for being the first brewery I remember touring as a kid. Apparently my Cub Scout Leader didn’t realize Sprecher made regular beer in addition to their famous root beer and took about six of us seven-year-olds to tour the brewery back in 1990. To this day, it is the only brewery I have toured in both its past and present locations.

Cheers!