MobCraft brewery to relocate to Milwaukee
A Madison-born microbrewery relocates
Communities that notice and nurture emerging businesses will be the best places to live, work and play well into the future.
I came to this conclusion in a feature article I wrote for the August 2015 issue of Madison Magazine called “Startup City,” an exploration of the local startup community and the genesis of this monthly column.
There’s a lot of excitement and energy about startups right now, and that’s a good thing. I’ve observed better and more consistent media attention, for example, which helps us paint a picture of where we are and where we’re headed in the future. Speaking of the future, the Madison school district’s launch of its first entrepreneurship class, Innovation Zone, at East, West and Memorial high schools and in partnership with the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, sends a strong signal to students, educators and parents about preparing the next workforce.
Meanwhile, from the isthmus to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to University Research Park, I’ve seen evidence of this “notice and nurture” mentality during visits to startups and co-working spaces, incubator and accelerator programs, pitch competitions and awards receptions, and I’ve talked to dozens upon dozens of entrepreneurs who’ve told me how good Madison has been to them.
Even Henry Schwartz, a young entrepreneur whose team has selected Milwaukee over Madison for its flagship MobCraft brewery and taproom, is surprisingly upbeat about the networks and opportunities he’s had here since he and co-founder Andrew Gierczak launched the business in 2012. During a recent conversation, Schwartz demurred when I told him how disappointed I was when MobCraft purchased a 14,000-square-foot building in the trendy Walker’s Point neighborhood after being priced out of comparable spaces on Madison’s trendy East Washington Avenue.
Instead of dwelling on the negative, the affable Schwartz downplayed the move, rattling off a local nonprofit fundraiser MobCraft had just supported, as well as ongoing collaborations with area brewers and businesses, including a new American strong ale called Copper Queen in partnership with Riley’s Wines of the World. Schwartz also joked that MobCraft’s “brewdaddy,” Page Buchanan of House of Brews, the south-side incubator where the microbrewery took off, is “ready to kick us out of the house” after a three-year residence.
Not only is MobCraft one of the most innovative homegrown businesses in the beer industry–his March appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank” is proof of a great concept–Schwartz is a well-respected and committed business leader whose contributions have gone far beyond funky, crowdsourced beer. Milwaukee will love and embrace Schwartz’s entrepreneurial spirit and community-minded ethos. He’s a vocal champion of Madison’s startup scene–he often works downtown as a member of 100state–and says he’d like to help close the “ridiculous” cultural and economic divides that exist between the state’s two largest cities.
“We’re a Wisconsin company,” says Schwartz. “My favorite thing to be is from Wisconsin.”
In true Sconnie spirit, Schwartz is also on a mission to reverse Wisconsin’s dismal ranking of 46th in the nation in craft beer growth through evangelizing his own brand, as well as indigenous beer brewed all over the state as an active member of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild.
“Whaddya got from Wisconsin?” Schwartz tells me, is the first question he asks when he walks into a bar or restaurant, and he hopes you will, too.
MobCraft is scheduled to be open in time for Milwaukee’s Summerfest, and bonus: the 505 S. 5th St. location will also be home to another entrepreneurial endeavor, a wood-fired pizzeria.
As MobCraft taps the last of its Madison-based beer this month, the good news for local beer lovers is the release of another rendition of Common Thread, the annual collaboration brew that kicks off Madison Craft Beer Week, April 29-May 8. This year’s joint brew session will yield a Gose sour beer courtesy of Wisconsin Brewing Company, Vintage Brewing Company, Ale Asylum, Great Dane, Grumpy Troll and House of Brews. Gluten-free drinkers can rejoice: Alt Brew is releasing a gluten-free version as well.