VERONA — Phil and Sara Hoechst want the state’s newest brewpub to be all about their ales, porters and other beer selections.
But it is hard not to be amazed at their schedules.
They started building their Hop Haus Brewing Co. just days before Sara gave birth to their second child. She continues to work one night a week at the Tipsy Cow in Downtown Madison and Phil works two or three days a week as a physical therapist for the state Department of Corrections, a job that takes him to prisons in Portage and New Lisbon.
So with two children, Harrison, 3, and Everett, born Jan. 30, the Hoechsts, both 34, clearly have their hands full after opening their 2,600-square-foot brewpub to a packed house on Wednesday night.
“You can function on less sleep than you think,” said Sara Hoechst, who grew up in Verona. “There never is going to be that perfect time. You just make it work.”
Located just off the Military Ridge State Trail, the $250,000 brewpub is in a building that had been home to a Cousin’s Subs, Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream and Figaro’s Pizza. Those businesses closed in May 2014 and left ample space, a walk-in cooler and a freezer and the right location for the Hoechsts, who pulled the trigger on their dream two years earlier than they expected.
Phil, who has a doctorate in physical therapy, was born in Germany and grew up in Fitchburg. He met Sara, who was studying dietetics and criminal justice when they both attended UW-Madison. A job took them to Denver in 2010, but they moved back to Wisconsin in 2012 to be closer to family after the birth of Harrison. Their original plan was to open their business in 2017.
The brewpub, across the street from Miller’s Market and Tuvalu Coffeehouse & Gallery, is the latest brewpub to open in Dane County as the craft beer boom continues. Verona is home to Wisconsin Brewing Co. and Gray’s Tied House while several other projects are in planning or under construction in the region.
They include Octopi Brewing Co. and Lone Girl Brewing Co. in Waunakee while Vintage Brewing Co. in Madison has a plan to open a brew pub along the Wisconsin River in Sauk City. In Madison, the former Lane Bakery site on Park Street will be home to Rockhound Brewing Co. and Rod Ripley, owner of Lucky’s Bar & Grille, announced last week a plan to create Lucky’s 1313 Brew Pub and banquet facility on the site of the former Foreign Car Specialists on Regent Street.
“There’s always room for more,” Phil Hoechst said. “If you’re doing good beer, people will come out here.”
But for those in search of a juicy burger, deep-fried cheese curds or a nacho plate to go with their beer, they’ll have to carry it in.
The couple’s two-year stint in the Rocky Mountains got Phil interested in brewing and introduced them to brewpubs that were beer-centric with food as an afterthought. Hop Haus does not include a full kitchen. Instead, customers are encouraged to bring in their own food from home or from area restaurants. Food carts make regular stops in the parking lot and customers can also buy frozen Fraboni’s pizzas that are cooked in two small pizza ovens or munch on Curt’s Gourmet Popcorn.
As for the beer, the brewing system is capable of making three barrels of beer at a time with 12 barrels of fermentation space with a goal of 300 barrels being made in the first 12 months. The bar and some of the walls were built with reclaimed barn boards and tin roofs while the wood cabinets behind the bar and the walnut holders for beer flights were made by Phil and his father, Hartmut Hoechst, a retired physicist from UW-Madison, who moved his family from Germany when Phil was young.
Phil Hoechst’s beers include Deuce Deuce Porter, Wildcat Amber Ale, Allegedly Albino Pale Ale and the El Andy India Pale Ale, named after a character on the Showtime hit, “Weeds.” With 12 taps, Hoechst has plenty of room to expand his beer lineup plus make room for guest beers and thirsty employees from nearby Epic Systems.
“It’s a supportive community. It’s a growing community,” Sara said.
“We’ve got the bike path. Ironman comes through here. We have the ice rink and Reddan soccer fields. There’s a lot of stuff going on here, and we need people to stay in town and have fun stuff to do.”