Here Comes Furthermore Brewery

David | Blog | September, 27 2010 | 3 Comments

While visiting Madison, Wis., last month  for the Great Taste of the Midwest I came across an emerging brewery that really made an impression, and it wasn’t even participating in the festival.

Furthermore brewer/co-founder Aran Madden.

Furthermore Brewery is located in the Spring Green area, a bit west of Madison. Its beers are made by founder Aran Madden and company at Sand Creek Brewing in Black River Falls. The beers are brewed with finesse and attention to detail, and they are also named and described with great care. Take for instance Proper, a session weight pale ale that pays homage to the British pale ale. Furthermore also makes a peat smoked stout that’s called Three Feet Deep. How’s that for a name?

The labels are lovely too. Wisconsin-based Erin Fuller Graphics created an understated look with natural tones, and simple blocky designs that feel simultaneously hip and nostalgic.

Anyhow, a beer by any other name is still a beer, and it has to taste good. I’ve had a chance to taste just three Furthermore beers, but all were outstanding, and friends who have tasted others in the portfolio are also raving.

Madden says most of the beers are based on traditional beer styles, but given a serious spin; Proper, being the exception, in that it sticks closely to classic interpretation.

At this year’s World Beer Cup competition, judges, stewards and some attendees of the host Craft Brewers Conference had a chance to taste Fatty Boombalatty, an amped-up (7.2% ABV), and hoppier version of a Belgian white.  Or, as Madden says, Belgian white meets double IPA.

Furthermore offers great craft beer wrapped in beautiful packaging.

While visiting Star Liquor in Madison, I picked up Proper, and Thermo Refur, an outside-the-box Belgian-style that Furthermore brews with red beets, black peppercorns and fermented with a cocktail of yeasts including two brettanomyces strains. These were the clear highlights of the can’t-get-in-Chicago bottles my friend Meagan and I transported across the state line.

Beers this good of course, ought to be accompanied by great cheeses. Keep and eye open for Cheese and Cheers pairings that feature Furthermore beers. In fact we’ll have one later this week.

So what else can we find out about Furthermore?

Furthermore is Madden’s first business venture after seven years of brewing professionally in his home city of Pittsburgh.

“I didn’t have deep pockets and wanted to do my own thing,” he says. “My sister is an actress, and she got a job at American Players Theater in Spring Green. We would come here to visit.”

Madden said he and his family loved the area, and his sister, who gets lead roles at the theater, kept nudging him toward starting his own brewery nearby.

In 2005, he did just that buying a building they thought would house the brewery, and agreeing to make a house beer for the theater, a world-renowned organization that presents classic plays in a wooded surrounding and is reviewed by the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. APT sells 100,000 tickets each season, so it was a good client to start with.

Next Madden met Chris Staples, a long-time Wisconsin resident with some business expertise, who had been hoping to open a wine bar in the area. The two clicked, and eventually combined their plans. An empty building was not going to produce beers in time for APTs upcoming season, so the idea of building a small, keg-only operation went to the back burner. Meanwhile, Madden and Staples approached Sand Creek.

“When we first went to them, we were just looking to do a couple test batches,” Madden says. “Using their facility turned out to be great for us. What I liked was that I would be able to be hands on, so that I could be sure that the beers would be uniquely ours.”

Sand Creek is the same company that helped Chicago’s Half Acre Brewery get a market foothold a couple years ago, before Half Acre shifted to its own brewery in the city. It offered Furthermore the option of bottles of kegs, which was perfect because APT wanted bottles.

Initially, Madden had his hands in the mash kettle just once a week doing just a 20 barrel batch. As of August, about 160 barrels of Furthermore beer was being brewed each month. Distribution is still very small, in Wis., the Twin Cities of Minnesota, and a couple of spots in Pennsylvania. Distributors have to live with a rationing plan.

The beers have been well received, Madden says, especially by chefs who like the opportunity of playing off some unique flavors and ingredients.

The plans to build out the Spring Green brewery may soon be back on the board, and that could take place as early as sometime next year, but for now Sand Creek is the best way to continue building the business. Broader, deeper distribution will come eventually, and that will certainly include Chicago, Madden says.

Thermo Refur, made with red beets, peppercorns, and extracurricular yeast is a fine mix of flavors.

Now being a bit of a word geek, before I finish, I have to get back to the name of the brewery, and the names and descriptions of the beers.

Madden credits Staples for a lot of the creativity in the names and descriptions. Here’s the website description for Knot Stock, the first beer the company produced:

Black, cracked, stuffed in a sack, boiled and cold-infused. The real treat of our A.P.A. is the tangle of flavors that fresh cracked pepper and Northern Brewer Hops create. At 65 IBUs (bitterness units) there’s plenty of zing for the Hop Heads or Bitter Bettys, but not so much to overpower the tingle of the black pepper as it slowly kicks in. Likewise, the 15° Plato malt bill features a healthy dose of caramel malt meant to soften (but not stifle) the play of pepper and hops on the palate.

The name Furthermore? That’s another story, and credit for this one goes to Madden and his sister.

“Well, my sister and I were in New England once and we were taking a walk and goofing around bantering in Shakespearian tongue,” he says. “I was lousy at it and I kept starting each sentence with ‘Furthermore.’ One of us said, ‘hey that would be name for a pub.’”

Turned out it’s also a pretty good name for a brewery, hinting that there is “more in store,” Madden says. Cheese and Cheers thinks great things are in store for Furthermore.

Check back here on Thursday for a pairing of Proper with a couple of great Wisconsin cheeses.

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  1. [...] of Furthermore and Bleu Mont they are kindred spirits as well as geographical neighbors. With Monday’s post I gave you the story behind Furthermore, a four-year old brewery in Spring Green, [...]

  2. Great…

    love your blog, ,Thanks again….

  3. [...] and was impressed by what was in the bottle, and even by the graphics on the bottle. There is a nice company story to tell as well, too, so I told it here and paired one of the Furthermore beers with a couple of [...]

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