By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 24, 2023 at 2:04 PM

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In an effort to boost its membership, the New Barons Brewing Cooperative, 2018 S. 1st St., is launching a membership drive that includes two new incentive programs.

“First Round on Us” is a perk that provides all current member-owners and to any new member owners going forward a free 12-ounce pour of beer, which can be redeemed once a day.

Previously, members – of which there are currently around 500, up from around 260 when New Barons opened its Lincoln Warehouse brewhouse and taproom in autumn of 2020 – got  $1 off each pint.

The perk can be applied to New Barons’ core brands: Hopped By Ziggy Juicy IPA, Knappstor Premium Pils, All Work No Play West Coast IPA and Witches Bit Belgian Witbier.

New 12-ounce glassware will be ordered for the taproom.

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Co-CEO John Degroote says New Barons was aiming for a perk that felt, “more owner and less mug club.”

Meanwhile, the 15 member-owners who are the most regular visitors to the taproom can take advantage of the “Community Builders” program, which gives them $1 off up to three pints of beer (after that first free one) per taproom visit.

New Barons tracks patronage data from its owners, so it can determine who those 15 are at any given time and the first 15 have been given the perk, which lasts for three months.

This number might go up to 20 or 30 in the future, but, says Degroote, they’re currently, “playing it by ear.

“As a brewery employee, one of the perks we provide our staff is a free ‘shift beer’ which can’t be beat after a hard day working the tanks or behind the bar,” says Degroote. “We wanted to extend that perk to ALL owners who help make this place what it is.

“We have such a fun, approachable and easy atmosphere in our taproom and that’s credit to our owners who show up and share their personalities with us and the community”

John: “Our brewery was built with an in-person, community mindset and our member-owners have sustained us since opening up our taproom and remain the lifeblood of our organization. We want to show our appreciation to our community of owners by buying them the first round”

Ultimately, the goal is for New Barons to pay out dividends to member-owners but based on current earnings the elected board of directors has yet to approve that move.

“These new programs and perks, along with New Barons’ growth and success has upped the value of membership in the eyes of the Board of Directors and within our community,” says Degroote.

“We’re excited to give everyone one last opportunity to get in on the ‘ground floor’ of membership”

There is no limit to the number of member-owners New Barons can have.It’s running the membership drive through 414 Day, April 14, because on the following day, membership price will rise from $200 to $300.

“Our member-owners are what make New Barons special,” says co-CEO Heidi Dalibor. “Bringing people together is always top of mind and beer has been a way to do this since it was first created. The new perks will aid in making this even more affordable, exciting and rewarding.

“The return of our Member-Owner Happy Hour and these new perks are meant to reward them, highlight them and bring them together. Inclusion and diversity, constructive discourse and meaningful impact on our community are always at the center of our mission. Milwaukee is filled with incredible people, and I look forward to bringing more of them into our community.”

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.