When I attended the Wisconsin Beer Lover’s Festival this year I fell in love with Pearl Street Brewery. Their beer was delicious and they just had a great vibe. And even with over 50 different Wisconsin breweries at the festival, this smaller brewery truly stood out. Naturally, I couldn’t resist reaching out to them for an interview.
Let’s hop right in and see what brewery owner Joe had to say!
What is the history of the brewery?
Joe Katchever and his dad Tony Katchever started Pearl Street Brewery in 1998 in the basement of the historic Bodega Brewpub downtown La Crosse. Joe Katchever gained his brewing experience brewing in several breweries in Colorado from 1994 to 1998. Most notably and his longest tenure was at Tommyknocker Brewing Company in Idaho Springs Colorado. Joe had the opportunity in 1998 to buy a small 7 barrel system from a brewery that was going out of business.
Tony Katchever is a longtime small business owner from Port Washington WI and works in Milwaukee. He also owns properties in Viroqua and Alma. So when Joe called about an opportunity to open a brewery. They partnered together and picked La Crosse WI for it’s rich brewing heritage and home to Heinemann Brewing… now known as City Brewery and the quaint river town they have both grown to love.
Tony has since retired from the business but is still around for sage advise and of course, as resident taster.
Tami Plourde has been with Pearl Street Brewery since 2004. In that time, she has been an active partner as well. She oversees daily business management, sales and marketing, HR, hospitality and more. Together Joe and Tami manage daily operations. And together they have grown the brewery from 400 barrels of production to over 5000 in 2017. They built a new brewery in 2004 on La Crosse’s Historic Northside in the 100 year old La Crosse Footwear Complex. Building their brewery from 2 people to over 25 people and growing.
What makes your brewery unique and how is it connected to the local area?
Pearl Street Brewery’s mission is to build community through craft beer. Maybe one pint at a time. In 2013, they founded a 501C3 Nonprofit called The Sprout For Kids Foundation that raises and donates monies directly to families, organizations and charities in the La Crosse Communities and often in the communities of their hometowns…Lakeville, MN for Tami and Port Washington, WI for Joe. This mission of charity and community really brings our support base together for many causes… and make drinking beer feel even better 🙂
What efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly?
We try to source as locally as we can from raw ingredients, to packaging, etc. We also encourage recycling through out as often as we can. We promote a Growler Sustainability Program that encourages folks to fill their 64oz Growler Jugs instead of buying six packs. We work with local farmers to feed our spent grains to livestock and keep out of landfills. In the future, we wish to utilize renewable energies into our production and utilities programs.
Was the expectation of building and opening a brewery different from reality?
Yes and no. We knew it would be hard work. We knew it would stretch working capital. We knew as we grew, we would face challenges in finding the right people, operating under managed costs, forming relationships with distribution partners and of course managing a growing business is always challenging… But you never REALLY know until you experience it. No matter how great your plan is. We have learned to be reactive and proactive and know that as we grow, we need to be focused on the changing needs of our company and creating the best plan to achieve our goals.
What is your flagship beer?
Our flagship beer is our DTB Brown Ale. It sells 2 to 1 over everything that we brew. All of our beers have inspiration whether it is personal taste, industry craze, customer demand, beer geek aspirations, etc. We have almost 15 SKUS I think along with limited and specialty brews and we are always R & Ding, researching and creating new beers. We won’t ever stop as that is what drives us. What was great 5 years ago might not be and but looking to the future is what the challenge is 🙂
Do you want to head to LaCrosse RIGHT NOW to visit this amazing brewery? I know I do! Here is some general information for you!
Website and Social Media:
1401 Saint Andrew Street
La Crosse, WI 54603
Tasting Room Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday 4p-8p
Fridays 5 & 6
Saturdays 1, 2, 3, 4
Poses and Pints:
$10 each includes a pint
11am every Saturday
Do you know a brewery that you think should be featured? Feel free to send me their contact information or have them email Rachel@mymultifacetedlife.com
Check out my other brewery interviews below!