Brew your own beer at Bru
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The brew-on-premises (BOP) concept is not new, but it has experienced a renaissance in recent years. In the 1990s, brew-your-own-beer operations cropped up in dozens of cities in the United States; however, it was not legal to self-brew in a public facility in Wisconsin until 2012.
In early February, Ron Jacobsen will open Brü, Milwaukee's first self-brewery, at 4343 S. 27th St.
Brü will offer individuals or small groups the opportunity to brew and bottle a partial-mash batch of beer that fills 72 (three cases) of 22-ounce bottles. In the future, rather than 12-ounce bottles, brewers might be able to bottle in growlers as well.
The brewing process requires two visits: a 2-3 hour brewing appointment followed by a bottling session three weeks later. The start-to-finish cost ranges from $160-220, depending on the type of beer (hoppy, malty and dark beers are more expensive). Brü will start out with a handful of different beer options including Weiss, IPA, Pilsner, seasonal or wheat and will add more in the future.
Brewers of all levels are welcome at Brü, from first timers to seasoned hobbyists.
"The process is simple and straightforward enough that anyone can do it," says Jacobsen.
Interested brewers sign up online – the website is still under construction, but will be up and running very soon – and choose a time and date as well as the type of beer they want to make.
Jacobsen recommends customers brew with a partner or in a small group of up to four people.
"It's more fun with a friend, but gets too hectic if there's more than four people brewing a batch at the same time," he says.
It's possible that brewers can botch their batch, but Jacobsen says it's highly unlikely if they pay attention to the process and follow the recipe fastidiously.
When brewers arrive, they receive a laminated recipe card and a basket of every piece of equipment needed. They also have access to the brew kettles, filling machines, capping station and a label creation center.
"People can name their beer and design their own labels," says Jacobsen. "They can get as creative as they want. This is especially fun when the brewing is done around a wedding or anniversary or another event."
Brewers are allowed to bring in beer or soda to consume during the brewing process, but hard alcohol or over-indulging is not permitted.
"Safety is the number one issue here," says Jacobsen. "There's a lot of hot pieces of equipment and potential for glass bottles to break, so people have to take it easy."
There is also an on-site kitchenette, and brewers are welcome to bring snacks or pizzas. Free popcorn will also be available.
Prior to opening Brü, Jacobsen – who grew up in New Berlin and currently lives on Milwaukee's near West Side – visited BOP facilities in Cleveland, Ohio, and Peoria, Ill.
"I saw an opportunity for something like this in Milwaukee," says Jacobsen. "We are, after all, Brew City. And beer is delicious."
It took six months for Jacobsen to find his space, and even though it was formerly an engineering firm and before that a dog training facility, he immediately saw the potential in the 4,000-foot building.
"It took a lot of work, but now, it's really perfect: the spaciousness, the garage doors, the parking lot – all of it," he says.
One of the benefits of making beer at a BOP instead of at home is there's no clean up for the brewers.
"Another benefit is that there's always a staff member floating around to ask questions," says Jacobsen. "We know the intricacies of brewing."
Brü will be open on weekends only, but eventually may expand to include weekday hours.
J106 - You are correct a bottle is $2.22 (for a 22oz bottle) and $13.33 for a six pack (of 22oz bottles) and the 50% more beer its actually 250% more beer than a 5 gallon batch. If Ballast Point Sculpin/Grunion or Bell's Hopslam sold at this price I'd fill my garage. Cheers
I appreciate you doing some math to show your point but you missed (assumed) a critical point. The batch size is Not 5 gallons, 72 bottles x 22oz = 1584 total oz / 12oz bottle = 132 12oz bottles. $160 / 132 = $1.21 per bottle. Miller Lite at Walmart is $1.33 per 12oz can (based on a 12 pack) I hope this helps clear things up. Br
That sounds like a really cool idea, but holy smoke! $160-$220? Ingredients for five gallons of 5% ABV beer cost about $20-25 at Northern Brewer, maybe as much as $40 for extract recipes that you can do on the stovetop with minimal extra equipment. I get that these batches yield about 50% more beer, and that you get to avoid the costs of buying your own equipment, and I get that there are people to coach you through it, but wow - $160 works out to $2.22 per bottle, or nearly $14 per six-pack, which is Ballast Point Sculpin/Grunion or Bell's Hopslam prices.
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