Some of you who have been around these parts for a while may remember that when I wrote here regularly a while ago there was a section of the website named Bucky’s 5th Quarter Barrel. In fact, you can still find all of the posts at the B5QB link in the “Sections” dropdown menu at the top of the site, but I think it’s high time that we start posting about Wisconsin’s third-favorite sport (after the Badgers and Packers): drinking beer!
We thought about doing another Wisconsin beer bracket, but decided for various reasons (like, it has been done before and apparently some writer here started a bracket of bars years ago that never got finished ... who the hell was that guy?) to try out something new. Since Wisconsin has so many wonderful options when it comes to beer and I, unfortunately, no longer live there, I thought it might be fun to shine a spotlight on some of the breweries around the state and hear what they think about beer in their own words.
As a seasoned drinker of beer, I’ve developed a number of contacts throughout the beer world and a good buddy of mine is good buddies with the owners of Third Space Brewing in Milwaukee. What luck! I was able to send him a few questions about beer and the Badgers, and he was nice enough to respond.
It is with a cold beer in hand that I give to you the first in a repeating series on breweries in Wisconsin: B5QB Brewery Focus #1
Name: Third Space Brewing
Location: 1505 W St Paul Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233
Key Beers: Happy Place Midwest Pale Ale; Unite the Clans Scottish Rye Ale; Upward Spiral IPA
Awards Won: 2017 Gold Medal at Great American Beer Festival for Unite the Clans Scottish Rye Ale; Rate Beer’s Best New Brewery in Wisconsin for 2016
Brewery Tour: Saturdays at 2 p.m.; sign-up at bar starting at noon
Can you get it in Madison?: Not yet. The closest place is Watertown (36 miles away from downtown Madison) but it is all over Milwaukee and the suburbs there ,so tell your friends driving to the game to bring some!
Here is my interview with Andy Gehl, co-founder and director of sales and marketing, conducted via email and edited for clarity.
What got you started in the brewing industry?
Kevin (Kevin Wright is co-founder and brewmaster) started home brewing beer shortly after graduating from UW-Madison. He fell in love with the hobby and decided to take a shot at making it a career by attending Brewing School at UC-Davis in California. After that, he worked almost seven years for a growing craft brewery in Southern California called Hangar 24 before heading home to start Third Space. I played around with some home brewing as well while working as an attorney but everything tasted like soap, so I thankfully reconnected with my old friend Kevin before diving into the brewing business. I was looking for an exit strategy from the practice of law and had always been a craft beer fan with an entrepreneurial itch.
What did you go to school for?
Kevin studied bio-chemical engineering at UW-Madison and then received a brewing diploma from UC-Davis. I studied political science and business at UW-Madison and then received a law degree, also from UW-Madison.
When did you change your career path to brewing?
Kevin has more or less been pursuing a brewing career since leaving college, after a few years working in education in Milwaukee. I am on my third career but expect this one will stick as I’ve never worked harder while also having so much fun. I worked for four years post-college in the non-profit world, then went to law school. I practiced law for about seven years in Chicago before joining forces with Kevin to open Third Space. We began working on developing Third Space in earnest in the summer of 2015 while we were both still working our other jobs.
What is your favorite beer that your brewery makes?
Kevin’s favorite beer is our Happy Place Midwest Pale Ale and mine is our Upward Spiral West-Coast Style IPA. Yes, we are both hop-lovers.
What is your favorite beer that another brewery in Wisconsin makes?
We are both big fans of New Glarus Moon Man (author’s note: SUCK IT, FANS OF SPOTTED COW!), which probably explains why a sessionable pale ale is our flagship beer.
Do you follow the Wisconsin Badgers?
We are both big Badger fans. Search the archive footage and you may catch a video of one of us on a goal post after beating a heated rival at Camp Randall while we were in school. We both try to get up to a few football games a year, and host football and basketball watch parties for the alumni association at our taproom. We’ve also attended a few Rose Bowls and a Final Four between us.
How do you think they’ll do this season?
We have high hopes. Last year was a great run and we think this year’s team is even better. It’s going to be a fun fall (and hopefully winter). We are pulling for a Big Ten championship and a place in the College Football Playoff!
Which beer should Badgers fans drink before/during the game?
While it’s hard not to suggest Happy Place Midwest Pale Ale because it’s a great beer for all occasions and our most popular, we suggest Unite the Clans Scottish-Rye for game days. Not only is it in a red can but it’s a winner too (it won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival). Most importantly, though, it is a great beer for the fall weather. It has a great toffee malt flavor balanced by some toasted bread notes from the rye.
What do you listen to while brewing?
The production team mixes it up quite a bit, but when Kevin gets control of the playlist it’s almost always a mix of ‘80s rock and ballads unless it’s hip-hop Friday.
Why is beer important to you?
Beer is important to us because of what it represents. It is something that takes a tremendous amount of effort, scientific knowledge, and artistry to create, but at the end of the day it is a simple beverage meant to bring a few minutes of enjoyment to the consumer. It is rewarding to put in that kind of work and passion to make people happy and bring people together.