When details of a new MobCraft collaboration brew of the Black Is Beautiful imperial stout emerged recently, news also simultaneously arrived of a new Milwaukee-area brewing project.
Chris Adams’ CAC Brewing partnered with MobCraft on the batch of beer, on sale in Wisconsin Walmart stores as a fundraiser for MKE Black.
Though CAC is just emerging, Adams is no stranger to brewing.
A Houston, Texas native, Adams has been in Milwaukee since 1999 and for most of that time, he’s been making beer.
“I have been homebrewing for 14 years,” Adams says. “I have enjoyed creating beers that my family, fraternity brothers, veterans and friends enjoyed drinking.”
About six years ago, he met MobCraft’s Henry Schwartz and Andrew Gierczak, from whom he’s been gaining tips to boost his brewing skills and knowledge, while sharing some knowledge of his own.
“Andrew and Henry are awesome,” says Adams, a Coast Guard veteran who has copious manufacturing operations experience from working at a number of area companies.
“I've been going down there, bringing samples, understanding, getting an understanding how to become a better brewer of beer. I shared with them operations knowledge. I have over 20 years’ manufacturing operations experience.”
While Black Is Beautiful is the first collaboration between CAC and MobCraft, it won’t be the last.
“I'm transitioning from homebrewing to mass production,” says Adams. “So my first thing is to build a brand, get my name out, go out and give out samples.
“So I said, ‘Hey, I'm going to go ahead and do my legal paperwork and why don't we start off similar to how they started off and coming in and using their equipment, creating an alternating proprietorship.’ That way, I come in with a lot less overhead.”
To that end, CAC is working on the details of the alternating proprietorship. MobCraft has done these deals before with other area start-up brewers, like Radix Fermentation and Rookery.
CAC and MobCraft arrived at that point after considering a different sort of relationship, says Schwartz.
“We started working on a potential contract brew relationship, but 30 barrels was just too much beer to move,” Schwartz recalls. “Now that we are closer to being able to brew pilot batches at the brewery, the conversation started back up. Chris and Andrew have been working on the permitting process over the past few months.”
Adams, who is African-American, ultimately hopes to grow CAC into a freestanding, independent brewery with its own taproom, and he sees this relationship as a viable way to move toward that goal.
“I plan on eventually covering the whole city and going out to the whole state,” he says, but he wants CAC to be more than that.
“What I would love to do is to introduce the Milwaukee community to opportunities that they've never envisioned, not traditionally. A lot of kids of African-American descent in Milwaukee don't dream of working at a craft brewery or getting into entrepreneurship. So, that's what I want to be able to do; to introduce people and then also to be an incubator and bring other people up. To do some of the things that basically Henry and Andrew are doing for me. To pay it forward.”
Once it's officially licensed, CAC would become the first majority Black-owned brewery in the state since Theodore Mack Sr. bought Oshkosh-based Peoples Brewery in 1970.
At the moment, Adams doesn’t have a specific location or neighborhood in mind for his brewery. It’s too soon for that. But he is keeping an open mind.
“You know what,” he says, “there's some great opportunities throughout a city that needs economic improvement, and there are different districts. So I'm going to take a look at those and see what those areas have to present. Right now, I am focusing on building a brand that will empower and build Milwaukee.”
And what about the beer? What can we expect to see coming from CAC?
Adams promises a bit of everything.
“I love brewing all types of beers,” he says. “I love Belgians, I love German beer, and I love stouts. I like cream ales. I enjoy doing it all. I feel no need to limit myself. I just enjoy seeing people enjoy drinking my beer.”
In the meantime, you can taste what CAC has to offer by grabbing some of that new Black Is Beautiful stout – and supporting MKE Black at the same time. Then, keep an eye out for what CAC Brewing has coming next.
“I love Milwaukee and believe it is a great place to raise a family,” Adams says. “I understand everyone doesn’t get the same opportunity that I have in Milwaukee. Therefore, I feel the Lord wants me help everyone to experience the positiveness that my family and I have experienced.
“And I'm excited. We're picking up momentum and I think this going to be an awesome summer.”
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.