A Place to Gather, Then and Now
Gathering Place Brewing Company – like the city of Milwaukee it calls home – derives its name from the native Potawatomi word minwaking, meaning “gathering place by the waters.” Over time, people from around the world have followed the example of the Native Americans to gather at the spot where three rivers join Lake Michigan, forming the present-day city of Milwaukee.
Inspired by this land, Gathering Place Brewing Company (GPBC) is the newest addition to a long and storied tradition of brewers who shaped their city as they honed their craft. Our mission is to craft vibrant and unique beers that reflect the vibrant and unique community we call home.
What is Gathering Place?
Gathering Place Brewing Company, LLC is a local craft brewery based in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. GPBC distinguishes itself from other craft breweries in three main ways: our products, our commitment to the community, and our status as a local place for people to gather.
GPBC crafts high-quality ales and lagers representing beer styles not currently available from existing breweries in the local market. We produce these beers using a 7-barrel brewing system and four 14-barrel fermentation tanks. This set up provides us with the capacity to make about 1,000 barrels per year with plenty of space to grow and add more tanks.
The on-site tap room allows customers to purchase beers by the glass and growlers for off-site consumption. We offer brewery tours to provide a fun, entertaining, and informative look at our company, our process, and our beers. In addition to the tap room, GPBC distributes beer in kegs to bars and restaurants in the Milwaukee area that specialize in high-quality food and craft beer.
Community engagement is in our name and the fabric of our business. We strive to make GPBC a cornerstone of the community and want people to see our business as a place to gather.
We seek to be active partners in the Milwaukee community by contributing time and resources to charitable causes in the city. We believe that the community should grow and prosper as GPBC grows and prospers.
To accomplish this, GPBC will donate at least 1% of sales each quarter to local non-profit organizations. We will actively promote our partnership with these organizations through social media and in our tap room, and will encourage our community partners to do the same. We recognize that startup businesses face considerable financial challenges. However, we strive to integrate our brewery with our community and feel that donating at least 1% of sales firmly establishes our commitment.
Aren’t there enough breweries in Wisconsin?
Milwaukee has long been a beer town, but has been dominated by global brands like Miller, Pabst, and Schlitz. Craft beer was slow to catch on, in part because of these brewing giants, but Wisconsinites are making up for lost time. Craft beer sales in the state have increased 20% in the last year and 113% in the last six years.
Milwaukee has about 600,000 people in the city and 19 breweries. Portland, Oregon is about the size of Milwaukee and has close to 90 breweries. Grand Rapids, Michigan – just on the other side of the lake – has about 192,000 people and 40+ breweries. Given the size of Milwaukee it is entirely realistic that the city can support several more breweries.
GPBC will successfully capture and expand market share by differentiating ourselves from existing breweries. Our high-quality beers push boundaries to include new ingredients, flavor combinations, and techniques not currently found in the local market. This product differentiation will help gain space in bars and market share. Our model for charitable giving distinguishes us from other craft brewers in the city. Lastly, the tap room welcomes visitors whom we can educate about our beers and our business to create and expand a customer base.
How did this all get started?
I’ve always been interested in brewing, and actually started making my own root beer in high school. Let’s just say I’m better at making real beer…
My beer epiphany came while studying in Germany for a year in college. The traditional full-bodied, flavorful ales and lagers were like nothing I’d ever tasted. Just as important was seeing how beer was an integral part of the culture, a way to socialize with neighbors and bring the community together. I loved spending time in beer gardens with professors and classmates, surrounded by groups of families and friends. I dreamed of bringing this camaraderie (Germans call it Gemütlichkeit) back to the States.
I started homebrewing in 2007 with a 5-gallon steel pot on my kitchen stove. I read every brewing book I could find and started developing my own recipes. I began entering competitions and receiving good feedback. While living in DC, I won 3rd place out of nearly 90 entrants at the 2013 Sam Adams Homebrew Competition for a Belgian-style triple fermented with sour cherries. At this point Kirstin and I decided that maybe this hobby could be something more.
I continued honing my craft, entering competitions, and winning awards. In 2014, I once again took 3rd place at Sam Adams Homebrew Competition for a saison fermented with wild Belgian yeast. In 2016 alone, I won 22 homebrewing awards from competitions throughout the Midwest, including three First-Place ribbons at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Beyond homebrewing, I’ve brewed on industrial-grade equipment at DryHop Brewers in Chicago and I’m a former employee of Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Milwaukee, WI. These experiences have provided valuable insight into the production and sales of craft beer as well as how to engage new customers with craft beer.
What will the money be used for?
We’ve leased a space, demolition is complete, and the brewing equipment has arrived. We’re in the process of building out the production area and tasting room, but need your help to put on the finishing touches.
Your generous Kickstarter contribution will be used to help build the bar in the tasting room and the walk-in cooler to store beer. These are two very important items for us. In essence, the bar is the face of the brewery. It is the first thing that people will see when they enter the brewery. It is where our staff will meet and interact with visitors to share our beer and our story.
The walk-in cooler is approximately 450 square feet and will be big enough to hold full kegs for distribution and for use in the tasting room. Keeping the kegs refrigerated is key to ensuring our beer is delivered at optimal freshness. Fresh beer is good beer.
We’ve come a long way from making beer in a 5 gallon pot in my kitchen, but we still have a bit to go before Gathering Place Brewing Company becomes a reality. We need your support to get us over the finish line!
All or nothing
Kickstarter functions as an all or nothing funding model. We either hit our goal or we get nothing. Your credit card will only be charged if we reach our goal. Similarly, rewards are only given if we reach our goal. That's why it's so important for you to share this Kickstarter campaign with as many people as you can. Casting a wide net will help us reach the goal!
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Craft brewery coming in spring to Riverwest
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Riverwest brewery to open in spring
- Milwaukee BizTimes: Gathering Place Brewing Co. planned for Riverwest neighborhood
- Milwaukee Magazine: Brew City: Beer wishes for the new year
- Milwaukee Record: Gathering Place Brewing Company needs help gathering funds for brewing company place
Stay up to date with everything happening at Gathering Place:
Risks and challenges
Gathering Place continues moving forward. We have applied for licenses and permits which are currently being reviewed. We have been working with the city and have the full support of the local Business Improvement District. We anticipate opening in spring 2017, though permitting delays may push this back slightly.
We currently have the swag and will be able to ship those items following the Kickstarter campaign. Supporters receiving tickets to the grand opening will be notified about the date ASAP. Those receiving tours will be able to visit once the brewery is open. Similarly, private tours and parties, brewer for a day, brewmaster, and naming a brewing tank will all be scheduled after the brewery is open. We will work with your schedule to find a date and time that works well.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)