Wisconsin Brewing Company is in the midst of installing some of the largest pieces of equipment of its brewhouse in Verona. Led by former Capital Brewery employees Kirby Nelson and Carl Nolen, this new brewery is setting up a 28-foot water tank this week, which will be followed soon thereafter by fermenters, a brew kettle and a lauter tun. All are set to arrive by August 1, as Wisconsin Brewing gets ready to for its debut this fall.
The brewery is located at 1079 American Way on the southern edge of Verona, just off Highway 151 at County Highway PB along the route to Paoli. This 20,000-sq.-ft. facility has been taking shape for months. In mid-June, workers installed a large steel serving tower with 12 taps for the tasting room, where it hangs from the ceiling. Several weeks ago, a set of large amber-orange grain silos was set up adjacent to the building. (A series of online videos highlight the status of construction on July 16, July 9, July 2 and June 25, as well as going back another month.)
Perhaps the most striking visual element to the brewery is a set of large windows on its west and northwest faces. These will offer views into the brewhouse, which will also be visible from inside the tasting room. The building also sits alongside a seven-acre pond that should provide relaxing summer views for patrons sitting in the soon-to-be completed beer garden. In all, the pace of the construction looks to be on schedule to meet Nelson and Nolen's goal of opening on November 1.
The German-style brewhouse equipment was built by GEA Process Engineering Inc. in Hudson, Wisconsin. This brewing system will produce 80-barrel batches, and has an annual capacity of about 100,000 barrels. But that's only for starters, as the brewery has lots of space in which to expand. Wisconsin Brewing could eventually make twice as much beer without much physical change, and there's room on the site for the building to be expanded to accommodate additional growth.
The usually-talkative Kirby Nelson still isn't saying much about what beers he'll make with Wisconsin Brewing Company. However, he's been developing pilot beers with other Madison brewers. Last week, he released WBC #003, a porter he made with brewmaster Scott Manning at Vintage Brewing. Nelson previously made an American IPA and a Golden Lager that were brewed at the downtown Great Dane. He has also brewed a summer ale in collaboration with Rowland's Calumet Brewing Company in Chilton, Wisconsin. "So many brewers have come to us and asked what they can do to help," says Nelson. "Everyone goes out of their way."
Nelson also has his own smaller pilot-system that he purchased last February. Eventually, he'll use it for in-house recipe development at the new brewery, and will be able to be seen from the tasting room.
While the early test brews give an indication of what Nelson might release, he's also using them to feed speculation and build some early buzz about his potential new beers. "They are more than trial batches, says Nelson. "People are watching what we do right out of the shoot, so we don't want to screw anything up."
With major equipment scheduled for delivery over the few weeks, it's a good sign that Wisconsin Brewing Company will be turning out beer soon. As to that, Nelson has made one promise, perhaps to himself, deliverable on November 1: "I'm going to have beer in the barrel for my birthday!"