Verona’s Wisconsin Brewing Co. is collaborating with San Antonio-based Pabst Brewing Co. to brew Old Tankard Ale, an American ale that has a history dating back to the post-Prohibition era of the 1930s.
Wisconsin Brewing Co., 1079 American Way, began brewing Old Tankard Ale on Oct. 1 under the direction of Pabst master brewer Greg Deuhs.
“We have a rich craft brewing heritage at Pabst that dates back to the 19th century and are truly proud to resurrect this classic American ale,” Deuhs said.
Under the terms of the agreement, Wisconsin Brewing Co. will brew the ale to be sold initially on draft in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan, before rolling out to more states in the future.
Terms were not announced. However, Pabst spokesman Mike Mervis said the deal “is something both parties think is in their long-range interests.”
Wisconsin Brewing Co. president and CEO Carl Nolen said this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with a major brewer.
“Although we’ve had other inquiries about contract brewing, none have been in alignment with our vision and strategy until now,” Nolen said. “This historic opportunity to work with an iconic Wisconsin brand like Old Tankard is a perfect fit for us.”
Revenue from the project will help Wisconsin Brewing Co. — which was started in 2013 by Nolen, his brother, Mark, and brewmaster Kirby Nelson — grow into the future, Carl Nolen said.
Pabst “is a very large company, and using their needs for capacity gives us tremendous opportunity to grow probably quicker than we would on our own,” Nolen said.
Wisconsin Brewing, which has 20 beer brands, produced 13,000 barrels last year. In its current year, which ends in March, Nolen expects the total barrels produced to increase to 18,000 to 20,000. The company employs 15 full-time and 25 part-time employees, but Nolen said he expects that to change pretty quickly as the result of the Pabst agreement.
The brewery has the potential for expanded production.
“When we built our brewery, we built big out of the gate with our brewhouse. That’s our engine that drives our model. That brewhouse can potentially do up to 1,000 barrels a day. We have a very big production facility. It’s just a matter of growing in a calculated, methodical fashion.”
Pabst was started in Milwaukee in 1844. It stopped producing the beer in Milwaukee in 1995. Its beer is now produced by contract brewers, including Miller Brewing in Milwaukee, Mervis said.
The company announced in June it would open a microbrewery/tasting room at the former Pabst Brewery site. When Eugene Kashper purchased Pabst last year, he said the brewer would dig into the company’s discontinued brands for potential new products, Mervis said. Kashper said in a statement the Old Tankard recipe is from 1937.
Such products will be tested at the company’s tasting room in Milwaukee, which will open in 2016, and others that are in the planning stages, he added.
Old Tankard Ale has been brewed in test batches, Mervis said, and has been received well.