Wisconsin has been at the heart of the beer and spirits world for more than 150 years. With the resurgence of craft beers and spirits in the last few decades, each new establishment has hundreds of years worth of reputation to uphold. The importance of beer and spirits in Madison culture is evident with the launch of Madison On Tap.
Wisconsin welcomed many European immigrants, notably German and Belgian, in the early 19th century. They brought with them many aspects of their culture and industry, one of which was brewing great beer! Industrial icons and some of the most recognizable brand names have built Wisconsin's reputation as a beer state: Miller, Schlitz, Pabst.
Madison's craft beverage beginnings
Madison’s first brewery dates back to 1848 when Bavarian Immigrant Frederick Sprecher opened Sprecher Brewery on Williamson Street (known locally as Willy Street) in Madison (no relation to the current Sprecher Brewery in Milwaukee). We can’t overlook that the opening of the state's first brewery and the founding of the State of Wisconsin happened in the same year — 1848. There’s beer. Now there’s a state. Coincidence? We think not.
Frederick Sprecher passed away in 1859. At the time of his death, Sprecher Brewery was averaging about 1,800 barrels a year. Frederick’s wife, Margaret, continued operation of the brewery until Patrick Fauerbach took over in 1868. The brewery was leased to him for just over a decade until he purchased Madison’s first brewery.
The Fauerbach Brewery ceased operation in 1966. Upon its closing, the brewery buildings were torn down to build an apartment complex. The apartments are called The Fauerbach and are still in existence today, coincidentally just a few blocks away from another historic Madison brewery — The Great Dane Pub & Brewing in Downtown Madison.
The Great Dane was the first Madison brewery to open in "modern times." Two friends, Eliot Butler and Rob LoBreglio, opened the brewery on the corner of Doty Street in Downtown Madison in the early 1990s. This brewery was the catalyst for many more to open in the coming years.
Today's craft beverage scene
Madison is now a booming craft beverage mecca in the heart of Wisconsin. Each new beverage maker to open its doors adds to the historic reputation this state has created for itself in the brewing and fermenting industry. This reputation is one to be celebrated and upheld.
And here is where the Madison On Tap Craft Beverage Trail emerges. This digital pass shines a bright light on the beer, bubbles, bourbon, and beyond that make up the outstanding industry that helped put Wisconsin on the map.
Madison On Tap showcases the people who are pushing the craft beverage industry to new heights and into new neighborhoods with new trends, consistently with the highest quality, care and passion for their products and their customers.
Classics & fresh faces
When visitors journey to any of the craft beverage establishments along Madison On Tap they can walk in knowing they will be provided 150 years worth of quality and reputation. Whether you’re visiting J. Henry & Sons Bourbon or Great Dane Pub & Brewery, who are a couple of the OG craft beverage makers, or newer places like Hidden Cave Cidery, Starkweather Brewing Company or many more, you’re drinking the pride of the makers who are adding to the history of Wisconsin’s reputation.
Please drink responsibly.