New business is flowing fast into the Shorewood area, and what flows better than a locally-brewed beer?
Milwaukee’s Big Bay Brewing Company has come a long way since November, 2010 when the first batch of their beer hit store shelves and restaurant bars. You can now find their beer at hundreds of retailers in Wisconsin, but what you won’t find is a company location — until now.
Big Bay is in the final stages of construction on a newly renovated store-front on North Oakland Avenue across from Shorewood’s Cornerstone building. The scheduled opening date is March 15, but if you peer through the windows, you’ll see the start of a cozy-cabin décor with a sleek modern twist.
“This is to give people a sense of location,” says company owner, Jeff Garwood. “We don’t want to take away business from our retail friends in this area, but people can come in, taste some of our beers, and grab a six-pack for home."
"Hopefully we’ll also have a few test-beers on tap here as well so we can get some feedback.”
Right now Garwood and his team brew their test-beer and two retail beers at the Milwaukee Brewing Company. He says once the brand starts gaining momentum, the company will invest in its own brewing equipment.
But the passion for beer is very present. Between explaining recipes for beer and the processes involved with getting them just right, anyone can tell Garwood is a tad obsessed.
“I’m a little bit of a beer geek,” he laughed.
And why wouldn’t he be? Garwood has worked in the beer industry for a better part of his life, making his new venture with Big Bay Brewing a bit smoother.
“I was with Miller for 21 years, and it allowed me to be more comfortable with being a brewing manager,” Garwood explained. “I did packaging work, brewing process work, graphics work and packaging and product information. I’ve done everything but sell beer, and I think I’m becoming a decent salesman.”
Considering the beer debuted about four months ago, “decent” seems a bit modest. Big Bay’s website has an interactive map clustered with the tons of locations where the beer is sold or served, including many Shorewood restaurants like North Star American Bistro.
And, as Shorewood continues to draw in , Village Manager Chris Swartz is happy to see another project come to fruition.
“Big Bay Brewery brings a great destination business to the Shorewood central district,” Swartz said. “It will increase business in the district, provide a showcase for Shorewood, and as Big Bay is certain to grow and prosper, will surely bring a real status enhancement to the community."
"We are thrilled to have them in Shorewood," Swartz added.
For Garwood, the decision to bring the company’s first location to the North Shore was obvious. He said all the new restaurants are a plus, but there was one other key aspect.
“Shorewood feels like home,” said Garwood. “I live in Whitefish Bay, and I wanted the offices close so I could bike to work. This area is home to me.”
Big Bay Brewing Co. will hold a grand-opening sometime during the week of March 20 after their scheduled opening March 15.