a local brewmaster who’s made waves internationally
Dave’s Brewfarm is a hidden treasure in the Western Wisconsin landscape that highlights the importance and ease of sustainable living through demonstration while consistently producing delicious local brews for the beer lovers of Wisconsin and its neighbors. Located in the small, rural Western Wisconsin town of Wilson (about 30 minutes from Hudson, WI), Dave’s BrewFarm is a “one-man shop,” run pretty much solely by brewer “Farmer Dave” Anderson with the help of his wife Pamela Dixon. The two bought the BrewFarm land in 2008 and have been living above the place where they produce their brews ever since. Dave’s reason for starting the brewery he puts simply: “I love beer.” A lifetime beer lover, Dave Anderson had been hoping to have a brewery since about 1995. He says, “I had a vision for what it could be. It was just a matter of piecing the puzzle together until it [became] a reality. I was looking to create a good lifestyle for my wife and me.” If there was such a thing, this would be a true ‘Mom & Pop Brewery.’
Dave’s BrewFarm started with its first brew, Say Zahn, and has grown to produce eight draft beers in the seven-barrel brew house that are constantly rotating due to season or ingredient availability. One of the typical favorites and first to be released was BrewFarm Select which is an American golden lager meant for “easy drinkin’.” After producing so many varieties of beer, Dave says his favorite is “the one in my right hand” going on to say, “beer is a mood thing” and his favorite depends on “whatever the occasion might be.”
Dave and Pamela strongly believe in making sustainable living a way of life around the world and try to lead by example. As they feature on their website, “Dave’s BrewFarm is an innovative demonstration project showcasing the latest in renewable and sustainable business practices, and rural development. Our hope is that through ‘leading by example,’ other businesses will adopt these (and other) sustainable strategies, realizing that every effort helps the planet – and the bottom line.” To further support their belief in sustainable living, the BrewFarm gets its power from a 120-foot wind generator that also serves as a landmark for the location of the farm within its rural landscape. After noticing the increasing fuel prices and searching through about 80 properties, the land Dave and Pamela ultimately chose for the location of their BrewFarm stuck out not only for its overwhelming beauty but also for the amount of wind that they immediately noticed upon their arrival. After being “enamored” by the idea of wind power for years, the couple decided to take advantage of the wind readily available to them at their location and install a 200 KW Jacobs wind generator to utilize resources and in due course reduce the energy they use and its cost to their business. Although the installation was expensive at first, the money that utilizing wind power will save them will allow for the generator to quickly pay for itself and then some. Dave says that using wind power has allowed them to have an annual power bill of about $300 – a massive step down from what it would be using conventional power sources. After doing the research on wind power, Dave and Pamela were intrigued by discovering other environmentally friendly and cost effective solutions to running their business. Eventually, their research led them to the use of solar/thermal panels which will reduce the energy costs to heat and cool things at the BrewFarm.
Further backing to their journey to become completely self-sufficient, Farmer Dave says, “This is a true farmhouse brewery. We are on 38 acres. We grow our own hops and other supplemental herbs and whatnot.” Dave grows different botanicals on site, including five varieties of hops for seasonal fresh hop beers in the fall, red clover, grapes, basil, dandelions, and rhubarb. Sustainable living is very possible for other businesses and Dave says with “stewardship and thought … we can make a living while taking care of the planet.” He also says that the brewery is “more of an experience for the community” as well as a place for the commonality of the love of draft beer.
You can pick up some of the BrewFarm beers at Just Local Food, The Coffee Grounds, or occasionally at the Firehouse downtown. Tastings are offered in the open tap room occasional Saturdays and Sundays from 3-7pm. More information can be found online at Dave’s blog: www.davesbrewfarm.blogspot.com.