Who is Wisconsin Brewing Company?

There is a lot of speculation in the craft beer community about Wisconsin Brewing Company (WBC) and what they will be bringing to the increasingly crowded craft beer marketplace.

During my hardhat tour a few weeks ago, Marketing Coordinator Jessica Schulter didn’t give away much information about branding strategies saying, “We don’t want to be pigeon-holed…it is basically whatever Kirby feels like brewing really.”

While longtime Capital Brewery Brewmaster Kirby Nelson is known for his world class Dopplebocks and strong German-style brewing background, Schulter thinks that Nelson will embrace the freedom in his new role and produce some really great beers.

Nelson recently brewed a 10-barrel test batch at the Great Dane nof what will eventually be WBC’s American IPA. While WBC had expectations that the beer would sell out in a few weeks, it in fact shocked them selling out in just a few days. The American IPA along with a Golden Amber Lager released earlier are the first two sneak-peeks the public has gotten an opportunity to try.

Currently, there is a tasting set for their third trial beer which will be released at the Great Dane and the Vintage Brewing Company on Tuesday July 16th, but WBC isn’t saying what style of beer it is yet, but they are certainly building intrigue amongst craft beer seekers which is clearly part of their marketing strategy.

Wisconsin Brewing CompanyI asked Schulter what the risks were in opening a multimillion dollar brewery capable of producing 100,000 barrels of beer annually right out of the gate and she seemed more than confident that WBC will be successful.

“We’ve got guys who have been in the brewing industry since they legally could be,” said Schulter referring to Nelson and former Capital Brewery President Carl Nolen. “Think about it…Wisconsin…Beer…Perfect! How could it go wrong?”

Schulter also says that with the new brewery being a little more automated, Nelson will have more time to be the face of the brewery.

“I wish we could have Kirby give every tour,” said Schulter. “He is so knowledgeable and passionate about beer and the beer business.”

The brewery plans to give tours of their Verona complex which features a Wisconsin-made brewhouse ideally on November 1st (which also happens to be Nelson’s birthday). Until then, the beer-curious can stay tuned for information at wisconsinbrewingcompany.com.

In Our Opinion: Capital’s Mutiny IPA Will Be Huge In 2013

In Spring of 2010, when Capital Brewery released the brilliantly-marketed “Supper Club”, then Brewmaster Kirby Nelson told Milwaukee-based Suds, Wine and Spirits:

Supper Club is rolling along and doing very well. It is a great addition to our lineup. Wisconsin Amber is still the flagship beer, but Supper Club is catching up.”

While we don’t believe Capital’s new Mutiny IPA will be as big for the brewery as Supper Club was/is, we think Capital’s step away from their malt-forward German-style brews will diversify their fan base and increase their standing in the marketplace.

mutinyThe Beer

Mutiny pours amber in color and has a beautifully-retained off-white head. With a bit of caramel sweetness, the malt provides a good backbone to balance the 70 IBU’s derived from American varietals of hops. Mutiny weighs in at 6.2% ABV, and while it has a little bit of a hoppy bite to it, it goes down smooth and doesn’t fill you up like some of its higher gravity counterparts.

Why Will Mutiny Be Big?

It is our belief that price, drinkability, distribution, marketing and packaging will all play roles in Mutiny’s success.

For starters: How many really good IPA’s can you get in cans? A lot of venues don’t allow glass bottles limiting the beverage options one can fill their cooler with. Sure, Dale’s Pale Ale is good, and Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo really hits the spot sometimes, but those brands are far from local and a tad on the pricey side (in our opinion).

Say you are a homer like us, and you like to drink local whenever possible. In our opinion, Mutiny is by far the best canned IPA in the state, and at a low cost of $10.79 for 12 cans, a thrifty craft drinker would be nuts not to have this beer in their everyday lineup.

Capital brewery also has a well-known brand and has established tap lines and shelf space all over the state. They have a track record of making consistent products that do well in the market; they will have no problems flooding the market with their newest beer. Mutiny is marketed as their “coming out of our shell” beer after parting ways with long-time traditional German-style brewmaster Kirby Nelson.

Mutiny is Capital’s statement to craft drinkers in Wisconsin saying that they too can brew an American IPA. They did a pretty good job of it to boot.

While the hop craze seems to be dying down a bit over the last few years with Belgian and farmhouse ales taking some of the spotlight, there is still a loyal army of hop-heads out there waiting to pounce on anything with dank citrusy bitterness they can get their hands on.

Capital understood that this hop-loving sect of the craft-drinking population generally steers clear of their malty brands. With that knowledge they created Mutiny, giving hop-heads a reason to drink Capital at an affordable price and in a can that they can take anywhere. We’ve got a twelver in the office fridge and think you probably should too. Mutiny will have a great year and a great future in Wisconsin.

Former Brewmaster Returns to Capital for Brewing of Second Annual Wisconsin Common Thread Collaboration Brew

DSC_0010Former Capital Brewery Brewmaster Kirby Nelson returned to the Capital brewhouse on Saturday representing Wisconsin Brewing Company for the brewing of the second annual Common Thread beer, which this year is a collaboration between ten Wisconsin breweries.

 

Nelson didn’t miss a beat as he casually got behind the controls at the brewery, where he was brewmaster for 25 years. His return to Capital for the collaboration efforts shows the immense sense of community and brotherhood craft brewers have with one another and exemplifies what Common Thread is all about.

 

“It is meant to be a big rally for Madison and Wisconsin brewers,” said Vintage Brewmaster Scott Manning. “We got a crazy notion last year, that a group of ‘competing’ craft brewers could get together, invent a tasty new beer, have a blast brewing it, and release it in celebration of both Madison Craft Beer Week & American Craft Beer Week. The idea was to toast our town and it’s beer culture, to support local agriculture and industry, and to brew as a tribute to our common bond as scientists and artists in the cause of Great Beer.”

 

While Common Thread’s 2012 inaugural brew was California Common (steam-beer) beer was a collaboration between six local breweries, 2013’s will be a Biere De Garde and feature ten breweries including:

  • Capital Brewery
  • Vintage Brewing Company
  • Great Dane Brewing
  • The Grumpy Troll Brewery
  • Lake Louie Brewing Company
  • House of Brews
  • Karben4 Brewing Company
  • One Barrel Brewing Company
  • Potosi Brewing Company
  • Wisconsin Brewing Company

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“We’ve bolstered our ranks and we’re aiming even higher this year- more local pro brewers, bigger batch size, bigger soapbox…same feel-good, local, crafty mission,” said Manning. “Let’s work together to make a beer to make Madison (and Wisconsin) proud. And let’s lead the charge for Wisconsin’s craft brewers to work together, buy and support local, and to elevate our state’s brewing culture beyond its gilded history, into a future of relevance leadership, and prestige.”

 

While the logistics of the brew are being handled by Capital Brewery, all money made above and beyond the costs of producing the beer will be donated to the Wisconsin Brewer’s Guild. 2012’s Common Thread raised more than $4,000 for the organization, which benefits small brewers across the state.

 

Each brewery has allocated a certain number of barrels to be sold on their premises, and the rest of the brew will be available through General Beverage for restaurants and bars during Madison Craft Beer Week which takes place May 3rd through May 12th.