*This is the forty-first post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
Octopi Brewing / 3rd Sign Brewery
1131 Uniek Dr
Waunakee, WI 53597
Visit date: 12/12/15
1) How many different beers?
4 of their own on tap, a total of 6 core beers.
2) How long operational?
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
The owner ran a contract brewery in Illinois prior.
3rd Sign available in bottles in Madison, growlers and crowlers to go.
5) What sets you apart?
“We’re a brewer’s brewery; a way to help others grow their brand.”
6) How did you get your name?
Named for the 3rd sign of the Zodiac, Gemini. Each style of beer (wheat, IPA, etc) is released in a pair of different beers.
Octopi Brewing in Waunakee, just north of Madison, threw us for a bit of a loop once we walked in. Prominent “Octopi” signs illuminate the field surrounding this brand-spanking new warehouse, production facility, and taproom; but on tap they offered house beer under the 3rd Sign brand.
The explanation starts with the brewery names: Octopi and 3rd Sign are like twin entities, and the name is an homage to the 3rd sign of the Zodiac, the Gemini twins.
3rd Sign is the house beer brand, which accounts for about 10% of their output. They serve and distribute it as more of a proof of what their other half, Octopi Brewing, can accomplish as a contract brewer. As Adam Vavrick, Director of Sales & Marketing, told us, Octopi was built to be “a brewery brewers want to work with.”
The idea is that other brewers or breweries who lack the capacity, starting capital, technical knowledge, or manpower to expand their brewing on their own can contract with Octopi for help.
Assistance can range from simply an extra fermentation tank, to a bottling line, to a full recipe breakdown: “We’ll brew to spec (specification); literally whatever you want.”
We tried all 4 of their 3rd Sign beers ($10) to see what exactly this standard-setting brewing equipment was capable of.
Fresh, tart; cloudy & hoppy.
Solid, perfect for a hike in the woods.
Madagascar Vanilla Mild Ale
Very tasty, like toasted marshmallows.
Sumatra Coffee Mild Ale
Peppery, addictive coffee taste.
While some of the focus is on the 3rd Sign Brewery brand, Adam notes Octopi is really “a way to help others grow their brand.” In a collaborative brewing community such as Madison, and considering the striking quality of equipment at their disposal, I have a feeling contract-brewer Octopi will be getting their tentacles on a lot of local beer.