The local beer world got a surprise last September when Walker’s Point-based MobCraft Beer announced it would open breweries in three other cities in the next two years.
MobCraft hopes to raise $1.07 million for expansion via a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the expansion, and is taking on partners in some of the locations.
The new breweries and taprooms will be in Denver, Colorado; Woodstock, Illinois; and Waterford, Wisconsin.
Founder and CEO Henry Schwartz, there is, “forward progress on all three.”
The first new location, which is expected to open in Denver’s Curtis Park neighborhood later this year, is a joint venture with Pueblo, Colorado-based Dee Tacko and will feature tacos and tequila alongside its crowdsourced beer.
“We're up to $700,000 in the equity crowdfunding raise, we hired a brewer in Denver, hope to open there in March,” Schwartz, a Colorado native, says.
The Denver facility, which will have a 600-person taproom and a seven-barrel brewhouse will occupy the former Liberati Brewery at 2403 Champa St.
MobCraft will rent the building and the brew system.
"Our brewpub permit was conditionally approved by the City of Denver and is now with the State of Colorado for their approval," says Schwartz. "Once returned from the state, we can schedule final inspections.
"We have hired an expansion manager, Matt McCulloch, who is likely familiar with many Milwaukee beer fans. Matt joined MobCraft in November 2021 and moved to Denver to guide the opening of this new location."
McCulloch, who owned D14 Brewing in Bay View, most recently helped open The Explorium's Downtown location.
The Waterford location was expected to open in spring in a former firehouse along the Fox River.
That location will open with Rick Beck and Geoff Beck (no relation) as investors and will latch onto the roots of the Rick Beck’s historical family brewery, John Beck Brewery, operated in Waterford from just after the Civil War until 1890.
Of that project, Schwartz says, “Our exterior development plan was approved by the village and we are working on the final details of the development agreement. We are hoping to come to a conclusion here in the next couple weeks and start construction sometime near the end of February to the middle of March.”
That site will have indoor and outdoor bars, a full kitchen, a 3.5-barrel brewhouse, dining room and 1,500-square-foot events space.
"Building plans are complete and we are really excited how the space is turning out," says Schwartz, who adds that MobCraft is using Waterford Stillhouse wheated bourbon barrels for a special variant of 2022 Padishah Imperial Stout.
"We will also be launching a summer beer garden series in collaboration with other local Waterford businesses," he says. "The details should be hammered out in about two weeks."
The Illinois brewery, in a historic sheriff’s residence in the old courthouse complex on the city’s central square, is slated to be ready in 2023. It will have a 3.5-barrel brew system, as well as basement and first floor bars, a 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio and seating inside the original jail cells.
“We have agreed upon lease terms with the city of Woodstock and the space is fully designed," says Schwartz. "The historic renovations will begin soon and should take around 10 months. Then we get to start our construction. ”
Sour Fest is back
In the meantime, MobCraft Beer is holding its fourth annual Sour Fest on Saturday, March 26, noon until 11 p.m.
The combination beer fest, pop-up bottle shop, and a taproom party will take place at the brewery, 505 S. 5th St. Admission to the taproom is free.
There will be more than 30 MobCraft Wild and Sour beers tapped – including limited-releases and cellar pulls – as well as beers from 1840 Brewing Company, Component Brewing, Hacienda Beer Co., Oliphant, Radix Fermentation, Sahale Ale Works, Supermoon Beer Company, The Fermentorium, Third Space Brewing, Young Blood Beer Co., Lion's Tail Brewing Co., Eagle Park Brewing and Distilling Company, Rookery Brewing Co. and Gathering Place Brewing.
The $60 VIP session allows early access to the tastings from noon until 3.
General admission is, runs from 12:00pm-3:00pm and tickets are $60 each. General admission sessions run 1-3 and 4-6. Tickets for both GA sessions are $45, including unlimited samples and a commemorative sampling glass.
Tickets are available here.
The pop-up bottle shop will sell wild and sour beers from the participating breweries, as well as a limited release mixed four-pack of the 2022 Sour Golden Ale Series: Sour Golden Ale 2022, Sour Golden Ale Hibiscus Pineapple, Sour Golden Ale Lulo Persimmon and Sour Golden Ale Raspberry.
Not into sours? There will be some non-sour options on draft, too.
"Our goal is to expose Midwestern craft beer drinkers to this growing beer style with awesome Wild and Sour beers brewed here in Wisconsin,” Schwartz says.
“Between the limited-release variants along with our guest breweries, this year’s Sour Fest line up is our best yet!”
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.