State of Craft Beer

Documenting the State of Craft Beer in Wisconsin

Matthew Janzen is barnstorming the state again — making trips to the likes of Wausau, Chippewa Falls, Platteville and Rice Lake. He’s on the road to talk about his gorgeous book, ‘State of Craft Beer.’

The driving is nothing new for Janzen. It was the creation of the book that got him started cruising the highways and county trunks of Dairyland. The original road trip started in August 2015 and ended several months later after roughly 30,000 miles on Janzen’s 2010 Audi and visits to around 100 breweries — the entire trek documented by thousands of photographs.

Matthew Janzen
Photo courtesy of Matthew Janzen.

Janzen’s Kerouacian journey provided him with plentiful stories and stunning photos that document the people — brewers, farmers, equipment suppliers — behind Wisconsin’s brewing industry. The compilation is State of Craft Beer, a 272-page work of art that was completed in May 2017. The publication’s ideal timing provides the perfect snapshot of a booming brewing scene in Wisconsin.

“I took the first photo on a day off — when I was working as a copywriter — but it gave me the confidence to commit to a new path in craft beer,” explained Janzen. “So I set a date to quit my job (August 2015) and start learning more about the industry, which obviously meant visiting as many breweries as possible. Since I didn’t have a reliable income anymore, I decided to focus on Wisconsin breweries only, to stretch my savings, 401(k) and a good stack of plastic. While visiting the breweries, I started asking about their supply chains and was blown away by how much they work with other companies in their communities and in Wisconsin as a whole.”

The contents of the book, vivid photos and short snippets that provide insight into the personalities behind the brewing community are housed in a smart leather cover. State of Craft Beer was printed at Van Lanen Printers in Green Bay and bound by Reindl Bindery in Germantown.

“I’ve been overwhelmed with the response,” added Janzen. “Half of it is very complimentary of the photography. The other half is about how gorgeous the book cover is, which is pretty cool, considering the book was 100 percent produced in Wisconsin. My designer Chris Walker and I were very critical of every element that went into it, so there was some nervousness about how people would react to it. But that nervousness went away when I started receiving repeat orders from customers. This is a book, not office supplies, so they obviously love it enough to give to their friends and family.”

Matthew Janzen Book Tour

Matt is bringing the State of Craft Beer to a pair of libraries in the area. Go hear his story and his thoughts on craft brewing in Wisconsin, and pick up a copy of the book for yourself.



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 20 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for a few years more.