*This is the forty-fourth post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
Rowland’s Calumet Brewing Company
25 N Madison St
Chilton, WI 53014
Visit date: 01/30/16
1) How many different beers?
9+ on tap, 5 regulars, a multitude of rotating and seasonals.
2) How long operational?
Opened in 1990
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
“You have to be a little crazy to do this.”
30-40 bars nearby.
5) What sets you apart?
Family-run (mother and son). Really, Bonita Rowland sets it apart.
6) How did you get your name?
Named after a former-brewery nearby that closed in 1942.
Small-town Chilton, a place where the most popular beer is Bud Light (seriously), was not where I expected to find one of Wisconsin’s oldest microbreweries. But for 26 years, Rowland’s Calumet Brewing Company has been working to change locals’ palates with their extensive selection of house beer.
The interior is exactly what makes a northern-Wisconsin watering hole lovable: cozy, with tons of character, and a setup to encourage community drinking. Behind the bar, both in the mural and manning the taps, is matriarch Bonita. She’s the undisputed lifeblood of Rowland’s, and she spent our visit spinning yarns and ribbing us as if we were old pals.
Bonita and her late husband, Bob, opened up the 7th microbrewery in Wisconsin when the state’s brewery business was more wild-west than the boom-town it is today. Bonita’s view of her business is refreshing: “Other breweries aren’t competition. We (use to trade) parts and pieces around the state (to keep microbreweries running). There is no right, is no wrong to brewing.”
For the neighborly-price of $8.50, we got a flight of all 9 of their beers and their soda.
Madison St Lager
Honey taste in a light beer, very good.
Like drinking an up’nort cabin.
More robust honey flavor than the Madison St.
Smooth, lighter flavor.
Real dark, bold, very unlike expectations.
Caramel start, coffee finish.
Fat Man’s Nut Brown Ale
Crisp, nutty roast.
A very-drinkable dark beer.
Calumet Root Beer
Delicious: a spice explosion.
Bonita and her Rowland’s Calumet Brewing Company are the reason we’re on this journey around Wisconsin: to meet unique and wonderful people and drink their unique and wonderful beer.