Union Corners Brewery offers ‘session’ beers and other interesting items
Also try beer floats and vegan beet tartare here
Inspired by the idea of involving people in the process of brewing beer, Eric Peterson has opened Union Corners Brewery with that vision in mind. Located in a new development on Winnebago Street on Madison’s east side, Union Corners offers open sessions about once a week where customers can be present for the brewing.
“When I lived on the east coast there were businesses where people can brew beer on the premises,” Peterson says. “People can pick out ingredients and brew a batch of beer right there. I thought that was amazing and wanted to do something like that here, but our state laws don’t allow it. The closest approximation to that is what we call ‘community brew sessions’ where people can submit an idea for a beer, we create the recipe and customers can hang out with us while we brew it.” And there is another incentive if your idea for a beer is chosen: “Whoever submitted the idea gets to name it,” Peterson says.
Peterson worked in the medical industry for 20 years before opening Union Corners in June but has been an amateur home brewer for that same amount of time. When he found the right head brewer and east side location, the idea for his brewery fell into place. “The population density of craft beer enthusiasts is very high,” Peterson says. “On the east side, giving people the option to buy into the ideation and creation of craft beers, you couldn’t ask for a better demographic.”
Peterson says he and head brewer, John Puchalski, who managed Brew and Grow on Williamson Street from 2013 to 2018, will focus on “clean” beers. “Places can go over the top with hopping or bitterness,” Peterson says. “In my opinion it’s gone so far — people can’t tell the difference. It’s too strong, too overwhelming and people can’t even drink a pint of it. We focus on balanced, sessionable styles. We also try to find beer styles that are underrepresented, like our brown IPA.”
With a 24-tap system, Peterson says Union Corners will serve five to eight of its own beers, five to six community brews and five to eight guest beers. There are also four dedicated nitrogen tap lines, one of which pours a cold brew coffee that is made at Union Corners using beans roasted by JBC Roasters. Look for Union Corners to add early hours soon for those looking for a morning mug of cold brew coffee to go.
While Peterson likes to focus on some traditional styles of beer, look for some “off the wall” beers too, like the upcoming “cocktail series.” “We take popular drinks and deconstruct them and turn them into beer,” Peterson says. “One beer that is almost ready to get kegged is our Paloma pale ale which is barrel aged in a tequila barrel. We also have a mint julep, a dark and stormy saison, and a gin and juicy.” In collaboration with head chef Corey Stroner, Puchalski is also brewing a morel mushroom nut brown ale that will be released this fall.
In addition to making mushroom broth for beer, Stroner makes the ice cream for Union Corners’ beer floats. The cinnamon dulce de leche ice cream with Union Corners’ English Porter beer is already a menu mainstay.
“Sometimes late at night there will be three or four beer floats lined up at the bar,” Peterson says.
Stroner is also responsible for inventive menu items like the beet tartare, a vegan dish made with roasted beets mixed with coconut dressing, herbs and cucumbers, topped with a mango “yolk” and served with house made gluten-free buckwheat sesame crackers.
Other menu items include sandwiches, burgers and pretzels with dipping sauce. Union Corners will serve its first Friday night fish fry on Aug. 16, which Peterson expects to be a regular Friday night offering. After waiting for the final zoning permits, a large patio space should also be ready in time for Union Corners first fish fry.
After two years of tweaking recipes and preparing to open a brewery, Peterson says he is happy that he can introduce people to fresh ideas and new concepts of beer. “Madison is one of the best cities in the country to do what we are doing,” Peterson says.
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