A Choice Projekt
the mad science behind the experimental flavors at the Brewing Projekt
by Paul Brandt
Over the past decade, the Chippewa Valley has seen a serious boom in beer business. Between Leinenkugel’s becoming a major player on the national level and smaller craft breweries like Lazy Monk and Lucette finding their footholds in the area, it’s not hard to find a locally brewed beer. With the addition of Eau Claire’s newest brewery and taproom, The Brewing Projekt, it’s going to get even easier.
Though the brewery has been an idea in progress for nearly two years, red tape held up the official licensing until this last March. Head brewer Eric Rykal came aboard last October and had the next nearly six months to start working on recipes to brew in their 15-gallon pilot batch system.
Once the taps were allowed to flow, they did in a big way – a soft open in late April saw 12 tap lines filled with a variety of beers, ranging from fresh takes on historical beer styles to genuinely experimental beers. Interest was high, so much so that the taproom actually ran out of beer in May.
“We’re still recovering from that,” said Rykal. (At the time of the interview, eight of the 12 tap lines were serving, with the rest to be filled quickly.) With 20- and 40-barrel fermenters housing the beer now, it’s safe to say there will be plenty for future patrons.
The brewery and taproom share occupancy at 2000 Oxford Ave, near the west bank of the Chippewa River. Tables, chairs, and stools sit alongside tanks and other brewing equipment, and patio seating is available as well. Beers range from $4 to $6 for a glass, or customers can pay $4 for a smaller three-glass sample flight of beers of their choosing. With options like a chamomile witbier (a floral, light-bodied beer perfect for summer), a ginger tripel (a more complex Belgian-style ale), and the best-selling Gunpowder IPA (a hoppy beer made with gunpowder green tea), the sample flight is a must for those looking to try something new.
“The biggest thing we’re focusing on is always innovating,” Rykal said. “People shouldn’t think of The Brewing Projekt as a beer. It’s an umbrella for many, many beers.”
With nearly 30 beers already brewed, a number of them already out on tap around Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and Menomonie, and a canning line ready to go, The Brewing Projekt is ready to help fill your glass.
Taproom hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-11pm, Fridays from 3-11pm, and Saturdays from noon-11pm.