*This is the ninety-seventh post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
1) How many different beers?
22 on tap + 3 sodas.
2) How long operational?
Eau Claire for 20 years, Osseo for 1 year.
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Started as restaurant with beer, transitioned to brewery with food.
Bottles in WI & IL.
5) What sets you apart?
In-house bourbon barrel aging.
6) How did you get your name?
Up north location, near the woods.
Exit 88 on I-94 North just south of Eau Claire will land you in Osseo, a popular stopover for anyone looking to get their pie-fix at the legendary Norske Nook. About a year ago, though, the owner of the perennial bakery favorite moved their long-time brewing operation just down the street to an old milk condensery building after a 20-year stint in Eau Claire.
Northwoods Brewpub was started by a law enforcement official after home-brewing for his brothers-in-arm while living in Colorado. Taking over the Norske Nook back here in Wisconsin gave Jerry Bechard experience in the restaurant business, and that blossomed into an opportunity to establish a separate brewpub back in the late 90s.
What started as a restaurant serving Jerry’s (and brewmaster Tim Kelly’s) beer switched gears into a brewery that also served food. The growth in demand for their beer (along with the acquisition of the classic Midwestern beer brand, Walter’s) necessitated a larger facility, which saw the long-time Eau Claire brewpub head down to Osseo, a few blocks from Norske Nook.
Walter’s Light Pilsner
Very light; poundable, with a lasting honey taste.
Bumbl’n Bubba’s Buzz’n Brew Golden Ale
Lightly cloudy, lightly honey, very bright.
Walter’s Premium Pilsner
Big taste start: malty and smooth.
Floppin’ Crappie Ale
Sweet, like candied malt. I could drink this all day.
Rowdy Rye Ale
“Mmm”. Juicy start and dry finish.
Very smooth for an IPA. Clean, in-check hops.
Lil’ Bandit Brown
Classic with a clean balance of nutty malt and hop.
Smooth, light, with coffee aromas.
Lyin’ Lynx Hefe + OJ
Added orange juice makes this heavy-flavored, cloudy Hefeweizen delectable.
Customer Service Manager Rachel, stressed Northwoods’ goal to “promote simplicity, in both service and styles (of beer).” In this part of the state, it’s also key to be integrated into the community. The brewery stays open to the public at all times. “You can walk in, watch, and talk to our brewer while he’s working.”
An active Mug Club keeps locals coming back, and a membership gets you the chance to brew your own beer, which is temporarily added to their extensive tap line. There’s also a large event space on the second floor of their beautifully-converted building, run by The Condensery.
Northwoods Brewpub is certainly taking advantage of the increased space in their new location with in-house bottling and canning lines coming up, as well as a fledgling barrel aging program. There’s been something brewing up in the north woods of Wisconsin for some time, and now’s certainly the time to tap into Northwoods Brewpub.