*This is the one-hundred and forty-third post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
1) How many different beers?
6 on tap.
2) How long operational?
Located here for 5 years, but only opened the taproom in June 2017.
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
It started as an experiment in trying to make lambic beer cheaper than importing from Belgium.
Just started distributing bottles in the area.
5) What sets you apart?
Sours and lambics only, with spontaneous fermentation.
6) How did you get your name?
Owner’s last name is Funk.
Wisconsin’s brewing heritage, especially in Milwaukee, generally traces its roots back to traditional Bavarian styles and tastes, with a smattering of other familiar and approachable cultures thrown in the mix. But down a quiet side street in Madison, Funk Factory Geuzeria is introducing the Badger State to some of the, literally, wildest beer styles on earth.
The tap room does not easily let on the uniqueness behind Funk Factory. Sure, it’s comfortably-cozy, with worn wooden tap handles and local art. But as nice as it is, that’s pretty par for the course nowadays.
When you start seeing people order whole bottles from the coolers rather than strictly from the tap, or notice the distinct lack of carbonation and foam when the beer is poured, you start to realize something different is going on. You prepare yourself for a taste…
Dank & brusque, with a grainy juiciness that makes it pleasant after a pause.
Kiwi /Melon Meerts
Like someone dropped a kiwi Jolly Rancher into the Meerts. Child-like satisfaction.
Mellowed on peach; more approachable, a tad tart but friendly.
Cervino-Gewürztraminer American Sour
Truly a beer/wine hybrid. Dry grape juice, with a hint of bubbly beer and yeast. A welcome adventure.
Cervino-Sangiovese American Wild
Leans more to a familiar red table wine, but adds a unique, wild beer essence.
If you’re a little perplexed by what you just drank, you’re not alone. Lambics (and geuze, and meerts, and others) are a historic Belgian style of beer, fermented and blended rather than traditionally brewed. In fact, owner Levi Funk told us that Funk Factory is “not a brewery (in the traditional sense), but a blendery”.
The “beers” fit his surname exactly: funky, dank, and a mellow kind of sour. They’re currently the only maker of lambics in the state, and literally the only place on earth that you can get these tastes.
Lambics are made with “wild” yeast; that is, Levi doesn’t add any himself but instead lets it waft in on the Madison breeze into his open foeder containers, where the wort then spontaneously ferments. No other batch, let alone location, would ever get the same yeast coupled with the same spontaneous conditions.
While breweries around the state and around the world race to come up with the next new thing, Funk Factory Geuzeria lets Mother Nature choose the secret ingredients. The result: the wildest Belgian-style beers this side of the Atlantic Ocean (or Lake Monona).