SOLDIERS GROVE - On Tuesday, May 8, the Driftless Brewing Company LLC is launched an expansion project at its brewery in Soldiers Grove to a 15 BBL brewing system and 70 seat taproom. This launch, attended by more than 60 people, was made in conjunction with the WEDC announcing a $125,000 grant to the Village of Soldiers Grove in support of the project.
Driftless Brewing Company, LLC, located in the Solar Village of Soldiers Grove held the ceremony to receive the grant that was presented by Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Klefisch on behalf of the WEDC. Wisconsin State Senator Jennifer Shilling and State Representative Lee Nerison were also on hand for the presentation along with a host of economic development people, investors and other brewery supporters.
“In a few short years, demand for our beers has far exceeded the current small production capacity and we are fielding requests for our products from as far away as Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Des Moines and Chicago,” said Cynthia Olmstead, the Driftless Brewery Business Operations Director. “Our expansion to a 15-barrel brewery will allow us to serve customers throughout southwestern and southern Wisconsin and provide a destination brewery and taproom for those seeking quality, local craft beer in the Driftless Region.”
This expansion, with funding totaling nearly $1.2 million, is supported by equipment and building renovation bank loans from Citizens First Bank of Viroqua; SBA 504 equipment and building renovation loans via Wisconsin Business Development; a WEDC Community Development Investment grant of $125,000 to the Village of Soldiers Grove in support of the project; a Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission (MRRPC) CMV Growth Development Fund business loan for working capital, and funding from private investor members of DBC.
“We are committed to producing quality craft beers that reflect the values of our brewery and our region: using the finest local and regional ingredients; environmentally progressive production and marketing; and passion for artisan beer-making that is communicated to our customers across the state,” Olmstead explained. “We use local and regional businesses, co-ops and farmers for 95 percent or more of our ingredients. Our beers, in name and taste, reflect the rich abundance of the Driftless Area and many of our ingredients are sourced within a few miles of the brewery, including fruits and berries picked by our own staff!
“Our Brewer Chris Balistreri’s collaborations have included working with a wide variety of other businesses in the area---one of our most popular has been our milk stout ‘Cow Cult,’ a local favorite and collaboration with Organic Valley,” Olmstead said. “With the release of our ‘Deep Rooted’ ale this month, we are also the first brewery in Wisconsin to brew beer with ‘Kernza,’ a perennial wheat grain that shows promise as a deep-rooted perennial for soil conservation and forage, in partnership with Plovgh (www.plovgh.com).
“We also have support from our small community as a successful driver of economic development in a poor, rural county,” Olmstead noted. “The Village of Soldiers Grove has supported our brewery since its inception with a community development loan for our small system and now as a grant partner on our expansion project. We believe Driftless Brewing Company is poised to become one of the leading craft breweries in our region and a growing force in the Wisconsin craft brewing industry.”
The Driftless Brewing Company announced it is deeply grateful to all of our investor members and funding partners: Village of Soldiers Grove; Mark Tallman, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC); Tom Weston, Citizens First Bank of Viroqua; Kyle Kuntz, Wisconsin Business Development (SBA Loan); and Greg Flogstad of Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission (MRRPC). In addition, James Bowman of Driftless Development Inc. was invaluable during 2017-18 in assisting with our final funding acquisition.
Driftless Brewery anticipates having their newly renovated brewery and taproom open and under production by the end of the year. Most of the new equipment will be purchased through Wisconsin manufacturers (Quality Tank Solutions) and the building renovation team will be led by Scott Chyco of Delta 3 Engineering of Platteville. They are all local or regional contractors.