Karben4’s First Bottled Beer Flies Off Shelves
Karben4’s release of its first bottled beer, Fantasy Factory, sets up a true fairytale. There’s the protagonist: the Madison craft brewery, for the first time bottling its much-loved elixirs. There’s the setting: the mythical land of Madison and greater Dane County. And there’s the conflict (of sorts): the overwhelming demand that cleared local liquor stores of the stuff, as if by magic.
Or maybe not so much magic as well-deserved popularity—it’s darn good beer.
For their first bottling venture, the up-and-coming brewery, which opened in December of 2012, chose Fantasy Factory, a smooth IPA with notes of citrus, tropical fruit and English honeyed-biscuit malt. They produced around 300 cases and distributed them to approximately eighty local liquor and grocery stores for sale on October 20. These sold out in around forty-eight hours.
“The cases evaporated,” Karben4 co-founder Alex Evans says.
Although he admits it was a good problem to have, Evans says they ramped up production and sent the next round of cases to stores this past Monday.
The second bottled brew, Block Party Amber Ale, will roll out soon. Although it was originally anticipated late this year, the release might be pushed back to January, according to Evans. The brewery expects to release two more bottled beers in the next six months, one of which should be the robust Lady Luck Irish Red.
Stores say they saw immediate interest in the beer, which comes in bottles appropriately decorated with a bandana-wearing, pistol-toting cat perched atop a unicorn, framed by a rainbow.
Brad Martin, general manager of DeForest Liquor, says people started asking for Fantasy Factory immediately after its release. The store was initially only able to nail down one case and it went fast, but Martin says he’ll continue to stock it. “There’s definitely enough demand right now.”
Evans says the new visibility brought on by bottled beer has increased interest in their tap room and draft presence. They’re adding three fermenting tanks and one conditioning tank in the next year, and plan to increase production from this year’s 2,200 barrels to between 5,500 and 7,500 next year. No matter what, the bottling move has thrust the brewery into new territory.
“We knew that was going to be a no looking back point,” Evans says. “Bottles really define you as a big boy brewery.”
Check out karben4.com for a list of locations bottles are sold.
Tamar Myers is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.