Milwaukee’s Vennture Brew Co., 5519 W. North Ave., is taking over the Biloba Brewing facility in Brookfield, according to co-owner Simon McConico.
Speaking on the Badger Beer Hour webcast, hosted by Milwaukee Magazine's Chris "Wisconsin Beer Baron" Drosner and Madison’s Greg “Daddy Porter" Washington, last Friday, McConico said that he and his partner Rob Gustafson are buying the brewery and taproom at 2970 N. Brookfield Rd.
The current Biloba owners, Gordon and Jean Lane are retiring, and a post on the brewery's social media noted that it will close for good on Feb. 17.
Gordon Lane started out homebrewing and Biloba first opened in a smaller building in 2014, moving to its current spot in February 2017.
Vennture, which brews both coffee and beer, opened in the Washington Heights neighborhood in 2018.
According to McConico, the sale is closing this week and Vennture aims to have the Brookfield taproom open by St. Patrick’s Day.
They plan to do some minor work in the taproom, such as painting, new signage and rearranging furniture before opening.
He said it's still unclear whether or not it will open with both beer and coffee or just beer to start.
"There's a lot of questions, on top of continuing to operate our current space and do things," McConico said. "A lot of things we're constantly plugging away on day in and day out."
While they’re also buying the 10-barrel brewhouse to help facilitate a much-needed increase in capacity, they don’t expect to begin brewing there until later.
“It’s a good spot,” McConico told Drosner and Washington. “There is nothing around, and there are people who are thirsty. (We want to) create community in a space where people want that and need that.”
He added that Biloba’s owners, “did a great job with creating community with the regular people who are in their taproom. Having the coffee aspect, it gives us kind of a broader spectrum of connection. We’ll be open the majority of the day vs. a handful of hours later in the day. It gives more opportunity to touch people.”
He told the Beer Hour that the deal has been brewing for more than two years and that he and Gustafson had not looked at any other potential locations, adding that they have both long been Biloba customers and that the Lanes offered guidance to them when they were were starting their Vennture.
"We've had a really wonderful relationship for a while," McConico said. "It seemed like something that just made sense."
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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.