Beer business is booming
Expansion in the works for Rhinelander Brewing Company
BY EILEEN PERSIKE
The first batch of Hodag Ale was untapped at the Rhinelander Brewery on Brown Street in Rhinelander only five months ago. Monday the company celebrated plans to triple the brewing capacity.
The thought, when they began brewing in April, was the current capacity would be enough to sell at the tap room and be enough for local bars, supper clubs and golf courses to have on tap to sell there as well, but they couldn’t keep up with the demand.
“That was just keeping us afloat for kegs,” said Jyoti Auluck, president and CEO of Rhinelander Brewing Company. “So, by the time we untapped it on Thursday or Friday, typically busy days, it would be gone by Saturday night.”
The new larger capacity equipment is expected to be installed by the end of the year.
“We’ll be able to brew more beer of a particular style,” said brewmaster Al Ewan. “Currently, we have to brew two batches to fill the fermenter.” Now the masher and the fermenter will be the same capacity.
Still to be considered a small-batch brewery, an advantage that Auluck said, allows them the freedom to play with different flavors and profiles, like the aronia berry ale, introduced at the celebration. They are, she pointed out, full of antioxidants.
“I went out to Hanson’s [Garden Village] and talked to Brent about making beer with some local berries,” Ewan said. “They were growing these “chokeberries,” what they call aronia berries, and they donated them to us to make the beer.”
It takes a lot of beer tasting to create the brewery’s seasonal or special brews, said apprentice brewer Brad Schmidt, who added, “you have to be interested in trying any sorts of beers out there, tasting other craft brews. You have to be open minded.”
Roasted pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger were added to the barley grains to create a single barrel of what Ewan is calling a Harvest Ale. It will be offered as one of the many brews available in October.
“It’s nice to have a half a dozen beers that we know people really like a lot, keep working on those and in between try to get a seasonal or experimental brew going,” Ewan said. Of those seasonal beers, Ewan said “all of them” are his favorites, but he mentioned the O’Dag, an Irish Red Ale is a popular one, along with a Blonde Ale.
Schmidt, who hopes to become a brewmaster himself one day, has created several specialty beers on his own, a Cream Ale and A Rye Kolsch, a German-style beer, are two of his favorites.
Auluck, Ewan and Schmidt said they are looking forward to the upgraded and increased capacity, and the opportunity to continue working with local producers to create unique brews for the Northwoods.