*This is the twenty-second post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
One Barrel Brewing Company
2001 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704
Visit date: 08/24/15
1) How many different beers?
8 on tap, ~30 total all-time
2) How long operational?
A little over 3 years
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Madison needed a nano-brewery, and ale-styles are easier to brew at that level.
Wholesale brewing offsite for local bars, looking to bottle.
5) What sets you apart?
“We’re all in this (beer) community together.” That’s good enough.
6) How did you get your name?
Operating a 1-barrel brewing capacity.
Madison’s traditionally hippie-laden identity is still prevalent, but we’re increasingly seeing that artistic, counter-culture attitude providing unique and thoughtful execution of new endeavors. One Barrel Brewing Company, just slightly removed from the Willy Street area, is a perfect example of this mindset, focusing on small-batch trial and error beers for the community.
As vice-president of sales, James Zander, told me, “Beer is an artistic expression. It’s not about being different, it’s about brewing your passion.” You can tell that One Barrel lives that sentiment. They admittedly “love the neighborhood,” and built the comfortable and warm bar space “for themselves” and other locals. The ceiling is covered in dollar bills, which are donated by patrons and taken down each month for a local charity.
It was hard to choose which beers to try, as all 8 on draft sounded unique: both a cause and effect of their small-batch setup. For $10 we grabbed 4 samples.
Hootenanny Herbed Pale Ale
Notable thyme taste with a slight hop nose.
Deli Double Imperial Rye Brown Ale
Drinkable, with a nutty taste left on the tongue.
Big Bear Belgian Strong Ale
Very strong, straddling the line of sour but landing on just the right side. Mmm.
Bilbo Baggins India Black Ale
Like a Stout-ier nut brown ale.
One Barrel Brewing Company offers big tastes in a small package, and not just for beer: they also offer some tasty cheese and cracker boards. The sincerity of 1BBC is felt from the moment you walk in the front door to the moment you take the last sip of intense beer. The constraints of their small batch system actually frees them to brew notable beer worth drinking, sharing, and talking about.