Room to Brew
Coffee Grounds begins its own nano-scale brewery
As the owners of The Coffee Grounds, Eric and Julie Nelson have long been purveyors of the finer things to eat, drink, and enjoy. Soon they will have a nano-brewing operation in-house to produce and serve fine beers.
“Nano-brewing” is a newer term in the craft beer business. Craft and micro brews are prevalent now; those terms define a brewery that can make tens of thousands – even millions – of barrels each year. The “nano” moniker means brewing fewer than 100 barrels per year, a barrel being equivalent to roughly two kegs worth of beer. That’s the typical size of a test batch alone for a larger, national operation.
The brewing endeavor will be launched with their Sabco Brew-Magic two-barrel system, which is about the size of a large outdoor grill. It will have the quality of a 100-barrel system – the same technology, simply pared down. It’s a great way for them to get the project off the ground: “We’re gonna crawl before we walk,” Eric says. He has made the initial investment of just under $25,000 and is shepherding the operation with two brewers: Tom Breneman (a dentist) and Lon Blaser (a retired doctor). He will offer his critique and be the owner of the operation but will not instruct his mastermind brewers.
The project has been christened K Point – a ski jump reference to where the hill changes from steep to flattening out, when it’s time to leap, where risk becomes reward, where the fun begins. There will be four beers on tap at all times – “really good pale ales, stouts, lagers,” Eric says – along with seasonal brews. Eric acknowledges that successful and enjoyable beers already exist locally, and he wants to contribute to that movement: “I want better beer available for the Chippewa Valley.” These will very drinkable beers with 4 to 8 percent alcohol content. Setting themselves apart from the heavy hoppy beers that have trended the past few years, Eric wants your reaction to K Point beer to be: “I liked it so much, I want a second pint.” Up first will be the fire good pale ale they can make, probably an American pale ale, which will cost $3-5 a pint. Growlers (64 oz.) and grumblers (32 oz.) will be available for take-home. Beers may be available as soon as early April.
Coffee Grounds events will form around their new brews. Come May or June, the store is hoping to host a beer-and-food-pairing dinner. By fall, brewing classes may be available to view their process and glean the science. New brews will debut on “Firkin Fridays” when you can fill your growler for home imbibing.