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

3698 Kinsman Blvd
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 241-4812
Visit date: 11/25/16

Quick Hits:
1) How many different beers?
8 on tap, space for up to 10. They host a Brewer’s Series every 3rd weekend.

2) How long operational?
Since December 2012.

3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Owner had previous experience brewing for other local businesses and saw the space listed on Craigslist after another brewery moved locations.

4) Distribution?
Madison, Milwaukee, & the Fox Cities.

5) What sets you apart?
Five brewers (1 female), local artwork, and real ingredients.

6) How did you get your name?
Made up to make its own connotations as the brand grew.

Karben4 in Madison. All photo by Joe Powell.

“The owners came up with our name, brand, and logo first, so they didn’t have to state ‘brewery’.”

Indeed, Karben4 may be the first brewery we’ve been to that didn’t have “brew” or “beer” right there in the name. But by this point in southeastern Wisconsin (and well-beyond for avid beer aficionados), Karben4 is synonymous with slightly-hoppy, very-tasty beers and extreme bottle art.

In fact, the entire taproom is decked out in huge canvases with beautiful and surreal artwork. Our server, Rudy, filled us in:

“All the artwork is done by people from (Karben4), including one of our cooks.”

Because we are both equal opportunity employers and beer-drinkers here at The Squeaky Curd, this week’s breakdown of each beer we try comes courtesy of our Editor Katie and Historian Meggy.

Fantasy Factory IPA on Nitro
“Nutty.” “It’s in my nose.” “So smooth.”

Nightcall Smoked Porter
“I licked the top of the roof of my mouth a lot.” “Expresso.” (sic)

Tokyo Sauna Pale Ale
“Hoppy, crisp pale ale.”

Block Party Amber Ale
“The ol’ standby. An Amber with a pleasant and unexpected twist.”

Lady Luck Imperial Red Ale
“Smooth velvet.” “Red with a bite.”

Champagne Tortoise English Mild Ale
“An eyebrow raiser. Mild, but bittery and smooth.”

Dragon Flute American Pale Ale
“Strong Mosaic hops.” “Hits ya with tha hops.”

Over the last four years, Karben4 has really blossomed from a niche brewpub to a regional standard. The brewing space is nearing maximum capacity at 15,000 barrels, which is impressive considering the company’s humble beginnings finding this place on Craigslist (listed by forerunner Ale Asylum).

The growth has been organic and from within. As Rudy told us,

“Our crew (is what sets us apart). 30-some people do everything here. The philosophy of the brewery is one of community and camaraderie.”

The community has already embraced them, and if Karben4 can keep fostering that camaraderie in their ranks, I’m sure the ninja cat wielding a pistol riding a fire-breathing unicorn across a pixelated Super Mario level will continue to spread the hoppy love.

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