On days when 1840 Brewing Company is open, it’s a good idea to get there. The majority of brewer Kyle Vetter’s beers are oak-aged and take time to develop. This means that his tasting room is open sparingly — generally only the second Saturday of the month.
Despite the limited availability, the response has been positive.
“We continually get more positive feedback than negative feedback, and that is really cool,” said Vetter. “The great thing about beer is that it gets consumed and needs to be made again, always giving us an opportunity to make it better the next time. Unfortunately in our case that can take months or years, but our customers can always know that we aim to improve our products with every release.”
I made it a point to get there recently to pick up a bottle of Impatiently Waiting, an oak-aged New England IPA (more on that later), and to check out one of Milwaukee’s newest breweries.
1840 Brewing is nestled in an unassuming storefront on the north end of Bay View. One of the first things I noticed about the welcoming tasting room was the lack of taps. Vetter’s operation currently only produces bottled beer, so if you want a sampler, have friends order beers you’d like to try. Brews are purchased by the bottle or by the glass.
A long, wood-accented bar is the focal point of the brewery and holds court over a smattering of tables. Large retractable windows and an unused loading dock overlook Ward Street and provide ample light. A production area adjacent to the tasting room is brimming with oak barrels and lets patrons clearly see what’s going on in the aging process.
September’s release of Impatiently Waiting marked 1840’s first attempt at an IPA, and it turned out exceptionally well. The slightly hazy beer has a juicy hop presence that thankfully isn’t as fruity as similar beers that have fueled the current New England IPA craze. Impatiently Waiting is balanced, smooth and delicious and the two bottles I had didn’t last through a weekend.
“The response to the IPA was overwhelmingly positive,” explained Vetter. “Having a super fresh IPA available definitely brought new customers through the door. While a few of them picked up bottles and left, most stayed and tried our other products.”
Impatiently Waiting sold out quickly and introduced plenty of craft beer fans to 1840 Brewing. But IPAs aren’t really what Vetter is all about. Expect to see well-crafted saisons, wild ales and similar styles come out of his barrels.
“As a small brewery owner I feel that part of my job is to convert drinkers into craft beer drinkers,” added Vetter. “Further, I have the difficult task of converting beer drinkers into sour beer drinkers. People are scared of the word ‘sour.’ We do our best to educate our customers on the wide array of flavors that exist in ‘sour beers.’ I prefer the term “mixed culture” beers. Our main focus when blending is to create a balanced, drinkable product, that doesn’t have too much of any one flavor. Our customers often comment on the drinkability of our beers, and that’s a huge compliment.”
The Next Release
Desperately Wanting is a double dry hopped IPA that will be available to the public on Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Vetter says to expect “flavors of tropical and stone fruits, lemongrass and a touch of green tea.” I suggest not missing out on your chance to see what 1840 Brewing is all about.