Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing christina@wausaupilotandreview.com.

This week’s featured Wausau-area business is Mosinee Brewing Co., 401 Fourth St., in downtown Mosinee. Situated on the corner of Fourth and Main Streets, the sprawling brewpub lures both residents and visitors from out of the area with its comfortable, sophisticated atmosphere and wide range of craft beer and other selections. Before Mosinee Brewing Co. opened in 2018, owner Jacquelyn Forbes Kearns painstakingly transformed the building with local materials that speak to the brewery’s central Wisconsin roots. Local contractors and suppliers made up the majority of those involved in the brewery’s metamorphosis: Wausau Tile fabricated the bathroom sinks and bar top, crafted from Wisconsin River rock, while Esser Glass installed new windows. A&B Process in Stratford supplied the kettles in which the beer is brewed and a Milwaukee artist designed and crafted new, breathtaking chandeliers that adorn the ceiling. Now, the building boasts brick walls and enormous floor to ceiling windows that make the most of natural sunlight. Its 100-year-old hemlock floors were completely removed, but installed as part of the brewery’s ceiling, while an outdoor beer garden and event space were created for meetings, parties and special events. After three years, Mosinee Brewing Co. has continued the focus on local ingredients, while becoming a major attraction for central Wisconsin visitors and a catalyst for other Mosinee businesses. Brewer Ben Schreiner is joined by operations manager Lauren Chapman, as well as Carly Hoff in sales and distribution, Daniel Knoedler in marketing and design, Meg Knoedler in event coordination and taptenders Alexis, Annie, Claire, Dana, Phil, Rhonda and Tim. Owner Jacquelyn Forbes Kearns spoke with us about her vision for Mosinee Brewing Company and what’s in store for this central Wisconsin gem.

When was your business established, and what prompted you to start?

Our business was established in November 2018. We are celebrating our third anniversary this week. I saw an opportunity for business development in a wonderful town that is strategically placed on the growth corridor between Wausau and Stevens Point. 

How did you choose the name of your business? What are you trying to convey?

We are highlighting the fact that a brewery is right in the heart of downtown Mosinee and it’s very clear where to find us. 

Tell us about your business. What products or services do you offer?

We offer 16 varieties of exceptional craft beer, hard seltzer, and root beer made right here in our brewery, crafted by our brewer, Ben. Our variety of beers on tap and in cans/bottles changes seasonally. We offer a selection that includes beers for every palette including ales, IPAs, sours and more. Our root beer is made with locally sourced maple syrup instead of sugar. In addition to our own brews, we feature nitro cold brew coffee from Redwood Street Roasters in Edgar and non-alcoholic kombucha from BFF Kombucha in Spencer on tap at the brewery. We try to support local businesses through the use of their ingredients and products as much as possible. Our nitro beers on tap, including our newest addition, Beans Eddy, are brewed with coffee beans from Redwood Street Roasters. 

We offer an event room space which is often rented for weddings, parties, showers, business expos and business meetings. We host community events such as blood drives, craft fairs, chamber and non-profit meetings and fundraisers. We feature performances from musicians, comedians and other entertainment on a regular basis in the main taproom. 

What makes your business unique?

We area a community gathering place for all ages. Our building has been the cornerstone of the community of Mosinee since 1909. We honored and retained the history of the building by repurposing all of the original lumber but brought modern stylistic elements to complete the remodel of the original building. Our flagship brew, Flashover Red, was aptly named by the local fire department. A portion of our sales of Flashover Red each week is donated to the local fire department. 

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

We have created a wonderful gathering place for members of our community and have become a destination for craft beer enthusiasts far and wide. 

We have brewed award winning beers and continue to innovate new and exciting brews to please all palates. We have worked hard to support our community using locally sourced ingredients, local artisans and craftspeople for projects onsite whenever possible. 

How have you changed and evolved over time? What’s different now from when you first started?

In the beginning, we really felt our main business was the taproom, but we have realized over time that we have the ability to share our beer with a wider audience through wholesale distribution. Our kegs and cans are now available at other local establishments and it’s been wonderful to see the enthusiasm for our products in nearby markets. 

What challenges have you had to overcome? Basically, if you had it to do all over again, would you do anything differently?

Our opening was initially impacted by the government shutdown of 2018. Our federal brewer’s permit was sitting on the desk of a government official from November 2018 until March 2019. In fact, our stout is appropriately named ‘Shutdown’ as an homage to that time. We were open, but unable to serve our own beers, so we ended up with 16 guest taps featuring other craft breweries for the first several months we were open. 

COVID was another huge challenge for us, but we are fortunate to have survived when so many other craft breweries did not.  We had to reinvent our business to some extent, as we started canning and distributing our beer during the COVID shutdown. 

What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see your business in five years? 10?

We hope to expand our brewing and distribution capacity, along with our brand. We have a unique opportunity and potential to become a sought-after first-class regional brewery as we grow. We have a flourishing team supporting our efforts and can’t wait to see where our success takes us over the next several years.