A new brewery that’s taking a different approach to selling its brews has been bubbling up for a while in East Tosa and hopefully it will be ready to share beer by the time the weather warms up.
Center City Brewing is a project of Jason Pinkowski and Chris Berryman – both of whom are homebrewers and had been involved at Stock House Brewing in its early days – and Andrew Tilley.
The three plan to restore vintage vehicles that will serve as mobile outlets for beer sales at events, festivals, businesses and more.
Basically, beer-focused “food” trucks in classic machines, sort of like the Sprecher fire trucks you see at the County Parks Traveling Beer Gardens.
“We are currently in the feasibility stage,” says Pinkowski. “Our plan is to start out just as a mobile unit, bringing beer to your location for whatever possible event that you could have. It allows us flexibility and of course brings a unique angle to the market.
“The initial plan has us partnering with Chris Ivanovich at Wizard Works Brewing to contract all of the beer there while allowing myself and the team to focus on being out in the community with the mobile units.”
Eventually, the plan calls for a permanent site with a brewhouse and taproom. But, says, Pinkowski, “in this current environment we decided not to sink money into equipment and a retail space.”
At least initially, their plan calls for five tap lines in each vehicle, four of which would be flagship brews plus a rotating seasonal beer on the fifth line to help keep things interesting for craft beer fans.
“The beers will be range of brews that will vary from the more current trendy styles, to more traditional styles,” Pinkowski tells me. “The idea of only catering to the craft beer connoisseur leaves out a large market, and if you can't get your spouse, friends or family to come along, then you aren't going to sell a lot of beer. So while we will keep seasonals, hazys and fruited beers in our catalog, we will also have some easy drinking beers that will resonate with a larger audience.”
The beers are ones that Pinkowski has developed in his “test lab,” he says. Those brews cannot legally be sold, but they do allow him to perfect recipes before taking them to Wizard Works for production.
“I still brew at home, and that is basically my test lab,” he says. “I have been working on a Black Cherry Stout at home. I've done winter retreat which is a modified version of Snowy Kromer which was the beer Matt Cisz and I did with our group for the Barley to Barrel Program: Spiced Cream Ale, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, coffee.
“I have done an entire Straight Up Series which is a series of beer using only a single hop. So far there I have tried Centennial, Talus and Triumph hops. Currently designing the Cateyes Strawberry Blonde for the spring season. Some of the regulars will be the Headpin IPA, Atomic Age Belgian Blonde, Summer Surprise, an easy drinking ale.”
At the moment, Center City is seeking vehicles, but also potential partners, which was the reasoning behind the Facebook post this early in the game.
“We would hate to sink a bunch of money into buying a classic truck or panel van, outfitting it with all the equipment for tapping and having no venues,” says Pinkowski. “We are at the stage where we decided to do a more general call to see if we can get some interest. We also plan on having beer in bottles to take home with you.
“The idea of bottling vs canning is two fold for us. First there is a canning shortage due to covid and every brewery being forced to offer beers to go. Secondly the idea of beer in a bottle really nicely fits the retro style we are going for.”
As a Plan B, since there’s so much uncertainty these days, Pinkowski says Center City might opt for building a small insulated teardrop trailer with taps to help keep initial costs down and turn around a vehicle more quickly.
“That keeps with the retro look and feel that we are working with,” he says.
Center City is looking folks who organize things like farmers markets, classic car shows, corporate events, outdoor concert series, festivals and other events. If that’s you and you’re interested in working with a startup craft brewer, send an email to Pinkowski or Tilley.
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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.