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Nude Beach joins the Point family in April.

Point Brewery expands distribution, unveils "Nude Beach"

Last year, the Stevens Point Brewery celebrated 150 years of beer making in Wisconsin, but it was only six years ago that the brewery returned to local control. Joe Martino and Jim Wiechmann -- both of who live in Milwaukee and commute to Stevens Point -- purchased the brewery from the Chicago-based Barton Beer in 2002.

"(Jim and I) heard Barton wanted to sell it so they could focus on importing, so we contacted them and a year later we closed on the deal," says Martino. "And the good news is, the brewery returned to Wisconsin ownership."

Last October, Martino attended the National Beer Wholesaler Association trade show in Las Vegas, which led to distribution contracts in Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Kentucky and at least four more states that are still in the works. Prior to the trade show, Point beer was available only in the Midwest.

Martino says his product is well received because it's "true to style" and it's a beer that people can easily consume more than one per sitting.

"We don't make beers that are on the fringe and appeal to a small audience. We want to offer products that appeal to a wider demographic," he says.

However, Martino says his company has more in common with small breweries like Lakefront and Sprecher than massive operations like SABMiller.

"I'm a member of the Brewers Guild of Wisconsin and Russ Klisch (co-owner of Lakefront Brewery) is the chairman," he says. "I find the small brewers very cordial."

The Stevens Point Brewery -- often referred to as the "Point Brewery" -- is considered a regional brewery. It produces about 70,000 barrels of beer a year, which is roughly a million cases.

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