Gleaming stainless steel tanks. A state-of-the-art automated brewing system. A fancy new canning line. Raised Grain Brewing Co.’s new production facility, which went into operation in December, is a 20,000-square-foot testament to how far the Waukesha brewery has come in 2 1/2 years.
But the world could have easily missed out on well-crafted beers like Paradocs Red Imperial IPA and Black Walnut Belgian Imperial Stout. Fortunately for metro Milwaukee’s beer drinkers, the right paths crossed, stars aligned and the beer gods smiled on Scott Kelley and Jimmy Gosset, a pair of affable doctors who honed their brewing skills in a basement.
Brewing is hard work, but neither doctor has given up his day job. Kelley’s schedule, and the fact that he spends most of his days with a microscope and not with patients, gives him more time at the brewery. Gosset joins him when time allows – according to Kelley, bringing energy and an educated beer palate.
“It’s lighthearted,” Kelley, a dermatopathologist who specializes in diagnosing disorders of the skin, says of his hops-and-malt side hustle. “Not that [brewing is] without challenges, but it certainly has a degree of lightness relative to what I do all day long.”
The pieces have fallen into place for Raised Grain. The new brewery (1725 Dolphin Dr.) ups its annual capacity to around 11,000 barrels, nine times the output at the original location. The new space allows the brewery to expand its distribution reach, offer its beer in cans, and it gives Raised Grain more space for barrel-aging beer. The new automated ProBrew system lessens some of the physical work, making it easier on everyone involved in the brewing process.
Demand for beer is high, and future plans include adding a taproom to the new production space. For now, the cozy original brewery (2244 W. Bluemound Rd.) does just fine.
“It’s pretty fascinating how everything developed,” says Gosset, an internist whose father was born in the beer mecca of Belgium. “I use the word ‘surreal’ a lot. It’s very satisfying and it’s great to be able to share this with everybody.”
How the grain was raised
Scott Kelley and Jimmy Gosset meet in 1993 when Kelley was a medical student and Gosset a chief resident at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
They lose touch, reconnecting years later during a chance meeting at a party. The doctors begin homebrewing together in Kelley’s basement, a hobby that grows as they catalog their recipes and make good beer.
After attending a party at the Kelley house and enjoying the homebrew, entrepreneur Kevin Brandenburg is impressed. Elsewhere, a longtime acquaintance of Brandenburg, former pro cyclist Nick Reistad, has a business plan for a new brewery. Reistad’s dad shares his son’s vision with Brandenburg, his neighbor. Brandenburg is interested and has just the right two brewers in mind.
Nick Reistad and Brandenburg pitch the plan to Kelley and Gosset at a meeting in September 2014 – over a Paradocs Red. The pair of doctors bite, and Raised Grain opens one year later.
The beer that started it all
Paradocs Red Imperial IPA, Raised Grain’s flagship beer, has earned acclaim including a gold medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Fest. The deliciousness starts with an aroma that hints at malt and piney hops. The robust (8.7 percent ABV) amber brew expertly balances the sweetness of caramel malt with moderate hop bitterness.