*This is the one-hundred and fifth post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
1) How many different beers?
5 on-tap, working up to 8.
2) How long operational?
Started winery in 2011, began brewing in June 2016.
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Primarily female winery customer-base requested beer to persuade other family members to come.
Only available at brewery.
5) What sets you apart?
“Fun, not fancy.” Island theme.
6) How did you get your name?
“Pirates fits right into the Caribbean feel” (of Lost Island Winery).
It seemed unlikely to find a Caribbean-themed anything in a small northern town called Onalaska, but on an unseasonably-warm spring day we tracked down the Lost Island Winery to sample their house beers, under the moniker of Skeleton Crew Brew.
At first I was unsure we were in the right place: while there was a fully-occupied bar and plenty of booze lining the walls, it was all in wine-form. We’re equal-opportunity drinkers here at The Squeaky Curd, but came for the beer. Luckily, we saw the dread-locked tap handles down the bar and spoke with owner/brewer Todd while his wife, Jennifer, poured us a sampler.
According to Todd, around 90% of their winery customers were female (indeed, I was the only male when we first arrived), but most wanted a liquid manner in which to persuade their husbands and brothers to come along. That’s what got Todd brewing, all of which was completely funded by the winery.
Todd told us about his beer:
“People love that we have ‘regular’, traditional beers. There’s an ‘over-crafting’ of America going on right now.”
Abandon Ship IPA
Smoother & woodier than your standard IPA, with a classic hop head.
Musty, oaky, and clean-drinking. Lasts in your nose.
Balanced malt and hops make this a juicy and vibrant red ale
A bold take in both flavor and consistency pays off in drinkability.
Jet-black in color, but a mosaic of flavors: black currant, raspberry, and caramel notes.
The “Skeleton Crew” name and pirate icons fit well with Lost Island’s sun-and-surf feeling. As Todd said, “Lost Island is the relaxing feeling of ‘Getting Lost’, whatever that means to you.”
The island theme continues in the outdoor patio space. The enclosed courtyard blocks out the nearby highway’s drone, and instead, you hear are the soothing sounds of falling water and steel-drums over the speakers.
Though it may have started as a lure for male clientele, Skeleton Crew Brew has proven so popular with both sexes that they’re still struggling to keep the tap lines full – even after doubling their brewing capacity.
Skeleton Crew Brew and Lost Island Winery’s “fun, not fancy” atmosphere helps everyone who walks through the door find a little bit of Caribbean paradise, naturally with a beer (or wine) in their hand.