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Raspberry Tambois

Pearl Street Brewery will release Raspberry Tambois in bottles for the first time at 3 p.m. June 12 at Pearl Street Brewery. 

Pearl Street Brewery will receive a total of $150,000 from a La Crosse County development fund to help the company take advantage of the rapidly growing thirst nationwide for craft beers.

The La Crosse-based brewery intends to roughly triple its production in the next five years, going from more than 3,000 barrels to 10,000 by 2020.

The business also will expand its bottling operation so it can distribute its beer more widely in Wisconsin, Minnesota and perhaps other surrounding states, said Joe Katchever, founder and brewmaster of the business.

“When you open it up in bottles,” Katchever said, “you put that beer in front of a lot more people.”

In that same five-year period, industry analysts predict craft beer production in the U.S. will skyrocket from the current 11 percent of the overall volume to 20 percent, Katchever said.

Because the products tend to command a higher price, craft beers now generate $19.6 billion of the overall $101.5 billion in U.S. beer sales, or about 19.3 percent of the revenue, according to the national Brewers Association.

The county’s Economic Development Fund Inc. will provide the money in two $75,000 installments, with the second released no earlier than March 2016, after Pearl Street Brewery has demonstrated some growth, said Brian Fukuda, La Crosse County community development specialist.

“The county is excited to be able to assist this business on what should be a really aggressive and big growth for the company,” Fukuda said Thursday.

The brewery still must obtain bank financing to receive the county loan, along with $150,000 from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Katchever said his company already has applied for the WEDC funding and hopes to have approval soon.

Terms of repayment have yet to be finalized.

“I’m very confident it was a good investment for the county,” Katchever said.

Established 16 years ago, Pearl Street Brewery last expanded when it moved to the former LaCrosse Footwear factory in 2005. The company will remain at 1501 St. Andrews St. but plans to invest about $1 million in new equipment and another $200,000 refitting the building.

Staff will be expanded as well, from about a dozen employees to an estimated 33 over the next five years, Katchever said.

Pearl Street Brewery now produces eight different bottled beers, plus some seasonal products and limited varieties of draft beers for taverns and restaurants, he said. It will introduce a Belgian-style raspberry ale called a framboise Friday and a new India pale ale made with a special, Wisconsin-grown hop later this summer, both in bottles.

The new IPA has been dubbed Linalool, for the key aromatic compound in those wild northern discovery hops that gives the ale a unique flavor.

“You won’t find a beer anywhere else in the world that has this type of hop ... this hop is off the charts,” Katchever said.

He’s confident the heightened interest in craft beers is not a passing fad. The movement harkens back to pre-Prohibition days when communities commonly had a local brewery, he said, and is part of a modern trend that supports locally-produced food.

“They want to know who brewed their beer,” Katchever said of the growing popularity, “and craft beer is so darn delicious they just can’t help themselves.”

It’s already spawned a secondary source of revenue for the business: Beer tourism. About 100 people on average tour Pearl Street Brewery each weekend, sampling their products and bringing money to the region, Katchever said.

“The county is excited to be able to assist this business on what should be a really aggressive and big growth for the company.” Brian Fukuda, La Crosse County community development specialist

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(6) comments


Outstanding news for Pearl Street. I love the Brewery, the business and the atmosphere that Pearl Street has created. Bring on the competition, but for any craft beer fan and home brewer for that matter, Pearl Street provides an excellent product and atmosphere. Crafft beer fans want to visit a brewery and enjoy the product in the place where it is made, not in some fancy established and the beer is made downstairs or other side of the building closed off from the customers. Can't wait to see what Pearl Street comes up with next...


Great Job Joe. You and your company are an excellent asset to the area.


I would hope that this grant allows them to get more creative and consistent with what they are doing. Crafting great liquid could make Pearl Street a great destination brewery and boom the local economy, but I have personally have had far too many inconsistent brews too many times.

La Crosse has evolved into a little pocket of great quality craft beer with a lot of selection available to us and Pearl Street needs to rise to and match in my opinion to be great. They also need to get more creative, outside of winter ball. Start a barrel aging program for seasonal or year round production. There are so many hops out there and with all the amazing IPAs coming out you can't settle for just one new IPA every couple years. Linalool was decent but keep expanding the IPAs. Toppling Goliath is only a short drive away and they create beers that are world class. Hopefully this grant and the introduction of two new breweries will improve what Pearl Street does. I'm excited to see what is next


I have some clarification for you! First of all, beer has already been taxed more than any other American product. Breweries are taxed at the Federal, State, County and local levels. Then consumers again pay sales tax when purchasing beer. The knee jerk reaction is to raise beer taxes, but it's been done again and again. Breweries not only provide lots of jobs directly and indirectly, but they also pay more taxes than anyone else.
Pearl Street Brewery clearly draws tourists to La Crosse and those people stay in hotels and eat in restaurants while they are here!
You are right, though, Clara. Beer is SO important to Wisconsin. Breweries collectively are one of the biggest employers in the state. Beer distributors employ lots of people with good jobs, too. Pearl Street Brewery is very involved in the welfare of the community. They are extremely charitable and have a long list of donations and charities they regularly support.
They also buy local bottles, labels, hops and malt. Cheers!


One thing that is SO important to Wisc: beer. Always money for more beer and raising the beer tax is out of the question. Cut funding for education, but DON"T raise the beer tax!


And how many people do you employ Clara? The handouts get to be a bit much but it would appear there is demand for their product and they are adding employees, on paper at least.

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