*This is the forty-second post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*

Alt Brew
1808 Wright St
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 352-3373
Visit date: 12/12/15

Quick Hits:
1) How many different beers?
3 on tap (5 usually), 7 styles total.

2) How long operational?
Homebrewing since 2013, taproom open October 2015.

3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Owner’s wife has gluten intolerance, so all beers are gluten-free.

4) Distribution?
Self-bottle, self-distribute in Madison and some bars.

5) What sets you apart?
Completely gluten-free lineup.

6) How did you get your name?
Server wasn’t sure, but probably because it’s an “alternate” style of brew.

The small-batch brewing system at Alt Brew in Madison, WI. All photos by Joe Powell.

The small-batch brewing system at Alt Brew in Madison, WI. All photos by Joe Powell.

While I do not have a gluten intolerance (gimme all the bread), I can sympathize with our brethren who have trouble imbibing because of the cereal grains traditionally used in beer. Thanks to one of Milwaukee’s own breweries, the US government now recognizes certain gluten-free brews as beer, and larger breweries are starting to create one or two varieties to take advantage of the niche market.

Alt Brew, on Madison Area Technical College’s  airport campus, isn’t looking to simply throw a bone to people with Celiac disease – everything they brew, without exception, is gluten-free. Better yet for a beer fiend like me: I couldn’t even tell.

The taproom is cool and sleek: very industrial.

The taproom is cool and sleek: very industrial.

The impetus behind this unique brewing venture was the gluten intolerance developed by a local homebrewer’s wife. We all know the family that drinks together stays together, so recipes were tweaked to take out the gluten while keeping taste and variety. Of their five different styles, we tried three (the other two, a Tripel and an IPA, were sold out).

42 Alt Brew (4) sd

Solstice Saison
Tangy, refreshing, with a lingering nose.

Copperhead Ale
Rye flavor, smooth.

Farmhouse Ale
Fruit-forward, tasty; a good card-playing beer.

The back room of the warehouse has plenty of space for growth (and activities!).

The back room of the warehouse has plenty of space for growth (and activities!).

Don’t get me wrong, the beers did not taste exactly like their gluten-full counterparts; instead they offered slight deviations with full taste and crisp finishes, almost like ciders. Each beer also had a distinct flavor from the one before.

And they host pinball tournaments, so you know they've got street cred.

And they host pinball tournaments, so you know they’ve got street cred.

Alt Brew did not set out to make a token gluten-free beer; they toiled to brew great craft beer that happens to be gluten-free. This beer is worth ordering any day, whether you have Celiac disease or not. If you do have a gluten intolerance, your beer-swilling days are back again!