Craft Beer’s Consolidation Trend

Consolidation is big in the craft beer world, and the sale of Tampa brewery Cigar City shows an encouraging alternative to Anheuser. Plus: The Fermentorium opens in Cedarburg, a great spring beer from New Glarus and more.

Last week’s announcement that Cigar City Brewing was being sold wasn’t that much of a surprise. It was who was buying controlling interest in the outstanding Tampa brewery that was interesting.

Fireman Capital Partners, a private equity firm, purchased Cigar City. This is the same group that owns Oskar Blues and a few other craft breweries. The move may provide Cigar City with access to other brewing facilities, which can help ramp up production, and it may open distribution channels. If it means I may have easier access to Jai Alai IPA, I’m all for it.

It’s refreshing to read about a craft brewery selling to someone other than Anheuser-Busch InBev, although equity firms like this are nothing new in the craft beer world. They provide a reward for brewers who have put in the hard work to build up their brand. It’s a way for brewers to reap the fruits of their labor without being labeled a sellout to big beer. Brewbound has a much more detailed explanation in a great article written by Chris Furnari.

The Fermentorium is Brewing

Last week, The Fermentorium (7481 Hwy 60, Cedarburg) started pouring its own brews in its taproom, which opened in January. The 20-barrel brewhouse is turning out brews like Hello World IPA under the guidance of veteran brewer Ted Briggs. Founder Kristopher Volkman also brews smaller batch pilot brews like a Hibiscus/Rose Petal Saison.

“We will be brewing exclusively seasonal and limited-release beers,” says Volkman. “We will brew everything from traditional styles to experimental recipes.”

Another addition to the local beer scene is always a good thing. Look for beers from The Fermentorium at the taproom or at bars and restaurants in the area.

Barley Pop of the Week

A good wheat beer tastes like spring and New Glarus Dancing Man is a great example. The hefeweizen has big and refreshing banana flavors with hints of clove. It’s a beer that’s easy to drink and perfect for those warm days that are supposedly ahead.

Quick Taps

Door County Brewing is entering the IPA market with a unique take on the style. Belgian yeast and a mix of hops that includes tasty Mandarina Bavaria should result in a pretty smooth brew. Look for it in April.

Tickets went on sale last week for the Kohler Festival of Beer, which takes place April 29 to May 1. Check out the festival website for the myriad of reasons why you should go.

I really liked this article about beer trolls by Kate Bernot on Draft Magazine’s website. I love the passion that craft beer lovers bring to the table, but sometimes it gets out of hand.

Events Brewing

Tuesday, March 22: Draft & Vessel (4417 N. Oakland Ave.) pairs Summit brews with tasty charcuterie from Bavette La Boucherie and cheese from Clock Shadow Creamery. Deliciousness starts at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, March 23: August Schell brings a few different bocks to Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) starting at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, March 23: The Milwaukee Beer Society is sampling a wide range of Belgian-style beers at Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.) starting at 6 p.m. The cost is $15.

Thursday, March 24: O’so Brewing comes to Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.) from 4 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 24: Raised Grain takes over the taps at Benno’s (7413 W. Greenfield Ave.). If you haven’t tried this relatively new Waukesha brewery, you should.

Saturday, March 26: Try Potosi brews at Discount Liquor Milwaukee from 1 to 3 p.m.

Saturday, March 26: Wisconsin Brewing hands out samples at Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.) from noon to 3 p.m.

Saturday, March 26: Beers from “older” breweries are the highlight at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.) from 1 to 4 p.m.



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 15 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for close to 25.