A year ago I got my first glimpse of Good City Brewing. A few days before opening last June, the upstart brewery held a media preview hosted by founders Dan Katt, David Dupee and Andy Jones. The meeting included beer samples, an overview of the well-planned food menu, a quick tour of the facility and even a promotional brand video. From a business standpoint, it was clear to me that these guys knew what they were doing. Seriously, they had a brand video before they sold their first beer.
Good Marketing, Great Beer
All the marketing in the world doesn’t mean much for a brewery if the product is average. Jones, the head brewer, has held up his end of the bargain with gems like Reward IIPA, a big resinous brew that took home the title at the Brewing News’ National Imperial IPA Championships, the decadent Barrel-Aged Density Imperial Stout, and easy-drinking Motto Pale Ale.
“We were blessed with really strong demand for our products, almost from day one,” explained Jones. “The city seemed really excited to finally be getting its craft beer renaissance. That strong demand though meant earlier-than-anticipated capacity expansions.”
The brewery celebrates its early success and first birthday by hosting Good City Fest on Saturday, June 17. The event includes live music, the release of Barrel-Aged Detail Porter and Dr. J New England Style IPA, and a few special taps from the cellar.
East Side Taproom
The Good City taproom (2108 N. Farwell Ave.), with an ideal location on Milwaukee’s East Side, has thrived. A rooftop deck expansion and the addition of a private event space are slated for July. The brewery has also expanded its distribution significantly.
“Our business model has always revolved around a successful taproom, which influenced our decision on location, layout, beer selection, and food,” said Dupee. “Leading with the taproom has continued to help focus our decision making. For example, we canned Motto first because it was the most popular beer in the taproom. Even as we move towards an increased focus on distribution, the taproom has and always will continue to play a significant role in building our brand.”
Seeking the Good in Year Two
Good City has been part of the bedrock of Milwaukee’s recent brewery boom. Jones, Katt and Dupee combined brewing knowledge, location and branding savvy—an extremely important skill foreign to some new breweries—to have an impressive first year. There’s much more coming from the brewery in the rest of 2017 and beyond.
“(We’ll do) more barrel aging for sure,” added Jones. “Another one on the way in the fall is seven-percent ABV saison that’s currently aging in French oak chardonnay wine barrels. We’ll continue to roll out new styles and seasonals as we have time, but we’re going to be doubling down on producing enough of our core ales and lagers as demand requires. Sours are always an intriguing option. I personally love them, but they are very risky to make because of the chance of accidentally contaminating our regular products with the souring bacteria. For now we’ll likely stick with other Belgian styles that don’t use sour cultures, such as saisons and a Belgian witbier, which will be the style for the sixth in our Varietal series, released in early July.”