Tuesday, May 27, 2014

JS: Central Wisconsin craft breweries thrive off roots in home brewing

When it comes to the prevalence of craft brewers, one stretch of central Wisconsin is like a small-town version of Seattle or Denver.

Including brewpubs, there are seven craft brewers operating in Portage County, home to Stevens Point, and neighboring Marathon County, where Wausau is the largest city. An eighth craft brewer is under construction, with plans to open in August.

Those two counties have a combined population of nearly 206,000, according to state estimates. That comes out to one craft brewer for each batch of 25,700 residents — compared with a national ratio of about 1 to 114,900 and a Wisconsin ratio of 1 to 63,500 residents.

Portage and Marathon counties even beat Wisconsin craft beer hot-spot Dane County, where the ratio is about one brewery for every 45,200 residents.

"Everyone is pushing each other, making good beer," said Marc Buttera, co-owner of O'so Brewing Co. in Plover. "Then, you look up, and you have four brewers in your county. It's crazy."

Along with O'so, Portage County is home to Stevens Point Brewery in the city of the same name, which was ranked as Wisconsin's second-largest craft brewer in 2012 by the Brewers Association, a trade group based in Boulder, Colo.
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