After lots of dreaming, a few years' planning and many months of hard work, Ope! Brewing is ready to open in a former industrial building in West Allis. We went over for a first look.
The new brewery and taproom – with plenty of outdoor space – is opening at noon on Friday, May 27 in the former Perfect Screw Products building, at 6751 W. National Ave., next door to the former Kearney & Trecker building, which could become home to an events space.
Ope! will be West Allis' third brewery to open – after Westallion and Layman – with a fourth, Perspective on Greenfield Avenue, expected to arrive soon.
Ope! is owned by Adam Anders, Kyle Ciske and John Onopa.
Ope! has filled its 12,650-square-foot, single-story building with a large, 250-seat taproom on one side and a 15-barrel expandable brewhouse on the other.
That brew system has the capacity to brew about 7,500 barrels a year, Anders told me.
The taproom is large, with a stage and area for live music, and an really, really long 20-stool bar topped with actual barley malt visible through a layer of transparent epoxy. Along the bar hang green-glowing hop cone light fixtures.
There are two rows of tall tables running perpendicular to the bar, and between them – set off from the live music area with decorative greenery – a more comfy seating area with sofas.
Off in one corner near the front door is a more intimate lounge-like seating area.
Up above are industrial chic chandeliers that are a nice reference the building's previous life.
There will be parking and space for potential expansion out back, as well as a dedicated food truck space that Onopa says should be ready soon.
In front the plan is to build a large partially covered patio with firepits, a bocce court, a long bar, two volleyball courts and more seating, including some with views into the brewhouse. The outdoor space should be complete by late summer, at which point Ope! will have a full-on grand opening event.
You can read more about the background of the three owners in this story about the brewery written to coincide with an official groundbreaking event – long after work had started – in January.
Since I last visited, the space has come a long way and so has Ope!, which has been brewing beer and collaborating with other brewers, as well as selling some beer off-site including at the West Allis Farmers Market down the block.
The cooler is full of beer and all 16 tap lines are flowing, with a trio of hard seltzers, five collab brews (with Third Space, G-Five, New Barons, Eagle Park and Ciske's former brewery, The Explorium) that include a hazy DIPA, a pale ale, a rye amber ale, a pastry sout and a fruited sour.
“We had long standing relationships with the breweries we chose to collaborate with," says Ciske. "Creating beers that not only helped diversify our taplines but played to the strengths of each brewery.”
The range of brews includes a lager, a kolsch, a hazy IPA, Zing Boom Tararrel Belgian wit IPA and a variant laced with habanero, a session IPA, and a sweet – subtly chocolately – dunkel.
The taproom also sells soda, kombucha, CBD sparkling water and Untitled Art N/A beers.
Ciske says a mobile canner will arrive next week to put some beer into cans for package sales. Onopa adds there will be six varieties to start: H2Ope! Hard Seltzer - Strawberry Lemonade; Ope! Sourry! - Blackberry Lime; Didn't See Ya There hazy IPA; Laaager; Ope! 'Scuse Me pale ale; and Jeet Yet? stout.
Ope! has also expanded its team and wisely nabbed respected craft beer veterans like Maggie Skinner – who worked at The Fermentorium – as GM, and Eric Gutbrod – who has worked at Central Waters and Draft & Vessel – for its star-studded bartending team.
Ope! will be open Thursdays, 4-10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, noon-11; and Sundays, noon-7, though Ciske and Onopa say they hope to expand those hours over time and eventually be open seven days a week.
The taproom will be open on Memorial Day, from noon until 6.
A few before Friday's opening, I stopped in to see how the place looks as the brewery preps to Ope(n).
Here are some photos to whet your whistle (note that when I took them, some aspects of the place were still being completed, so the finished results will look even better come Friday) ...
Taproom with bar on the right side
Malted bar top
Future patio site
Future food truck space
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.