PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co.
Contributed by VisitKenosha.com
It’s a place that offers adult beverages, yet it’s not your typical bar. There are no televisions or hard liquor. Instead, people are encouraged to engage with each other in face-to-face conversation, to color on the coasters, and to play shuffleboard or other games. In other words, outside distractions are kept to a minimum. This is PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co. – which offers “Beer For The People” in Downtown Kenosha. The craft brewery is about getting beer out to the public, owner and head brewer Matt Geary says. “We are not pretentious here.” The taproom – it’s not called a bar - is a welcoming place for long-time beer drinkers and new ones alike. The staff is all about educating and teaching customers about what they are drinking. They want everyone to feel comfortable.
Matt came to Kenosha to attend Carthage College in the late 1990’s, and he hasn’t left! Prior to opening the business, he had a previous career, which he grew tired of. A consistent part of his life since college was making beer, so he decided to become an entrepreneur and open his own craft brewery. He started making his own beer right out of college, in an apartment, on a stovetop to save money. He jokes he’s still in the hole - he hasn’t gotten ahead yet, but he’s still trying.
The craft brewery is located at 716 58th Street in Downtown Kenosha. Why Downtown? Since living in Kenosha, Matt started visiting Downtown establishments, and he knew Downtown is where he wanted his business to be. He wanted to be among the honest and hardworking mom and pop shop owners who really care about the community. He wanted to help bring more people Downtown. He often partners with Downtown businesses for community events, including Kenosha Craft Beer Week, which was started in 2014 and takes place each May. Matt took the lead on this celebration by coordinating it and encouraging other businesses to host events. The week is about “getting exposure for all of craft beer” he says.
Matt notes PUBLIC Craft offers beer – mostly beer – just beer. Usually only their own beer is offered on tap, though occasionally they offer guest taps. The beer is made in the on-site brewhouse – typically when the taproom is closed. There are windows to the brewhouse, so if there’s action in that area when the taproom is open, customers can watch. On average, it takes about two weeks to make a beer – some take as few as 12 days, while some can take months.
Matt and his staff brew at least twice a week – they brew beers that are distributed as well as new, fun, specialty products to offer in-house. The best seller in the taproom depends on the time of the year. Also, craft beer drinkers want what’s new, Matt says. Typically nine taps are up in the taproom, with an extra one at times. There are core beers, regular seasonals, and specialty ones. At the time of this interview (late April 2015), three special brews were in the works: a home brew competition winner, a special Orson Welles-themed brew for the Kenosha celebration of his 100th birthday, and a collaborative brew with Kenosha’s Rustic Road Brewing Company for Kenosha Craft Beer Week. The brewery’s beer is distributed via kegs at bars, restaurants, and events throughout Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth Counties. Also, 22-ounce bottles are available in grocery and liquor stores.
The staff strives to make sure the taproom’s not intimidating to those who don’t know craft beer; they will even give samples for the curious to try. For those who know a little and want to try all of those on tap, beer flights are offered, to try to get people to try new beers.
PUBLIC Craft isn’t a brew pub - there is no kitchen that food is served from. You can bring your own food from home or restaurants, or have food delivered. Local menus are provided. Shuffleboard, books, a chess board, and card games are available to use at no cost. Local art adorns the walls and serves as conversation starters. Events are offered from time to time: live music, art show openings, guest speakers, book discussions, and the like. Blank coasters are provided, for people to express themselves and be creative. Photos of the completed, colored coasters are shared on Instagram, and future customers use the coasters. The seating is comfortable and the overall ambience inspires conversation, discussion, and social interaction.
What is Matt’s favorite beer? That may not be the best question to ask a head brewer, who considers all of his brews his ‘babies’. People always ask him that – and he likens it to parents being asked to name their favorite child. He says it’s hard to pick a favorite, and it depends on what he’s in the mood for. He did share a few – but it’s best that we keep that to ourselves and let you try them all and pick your own favorite!
VisitKenosha.com | May 2015