Many people in the craft beer industry daydream of Belgium and Germany—far off lands that are rustic and peaceful, where the beer is brewed well in small and out of the way places, where a quiet can settle in, letting a slower pace to be had. It’s odd that not many of us look in our own backyard for something similar. Minnesota and Wisconsin are filled with pleasant farmland where an out of the way lifestyle can be had and experienced. And that’s how we find ourselves at Dave’s BrewFarm, a farmhouse brewery that most people don’t realize they’re dreaming of.
Farmhouses have a long tradition in the brewing world, though American farmhouse breweries are a recent development. In the pre-industrialized world farmhouses were self-sustaining—they provided work, food, and lodging to rural communities. Beer brewed on a farmhouse brewery was sourced from the land with barley, malts, and hops grown in the fields, water drawn from the well, and yeast taken from the air.
Dave’s BrewFarm is one of the few American farmhouse breweries in operation. The beers are particular to the place, the time of year, and the ingredients grown and harvested on the farm property. Water is drawn from the well and the energy required to run the brewing and residence is taken from the earth itself, with wind being harvested by a 20kW wind generator and a geothermal heating system. Unique in almost every aspect, Dave’s BrewFarm blends something old with something new to provide an excellent balance to the industrialized side of brewing with which we’re more familiar.
Dave’s BrewFarm is a brewery located on 35 acres of farmland in Wilson, Wisconsin. It is owned and operated by Dave Anderson and Pam Dixon, On weekends Dave and Pam open their taproom and pour you the beers themselves. They are conscientious, caring, and friendly, and they do not hesitate to describe the beer to you in detail.
This year marks five years since the inception of Dave’s BrewFarm, and three years of open doors. After Dave and Pam eloped, they spent their honeymoon in Belgium and came back with a clear intention of a brewery farmstead where those who love the quiet and out-of-the-way can find the perfect beer respite.
Large features of Dave’s BrewFarm are environmental consciousness and responsible land stewardship. The residence and brewery were designed to best utilize land and energy sources conscientiously. “Jake,” is a 20 kW wind generator located just outside of the taproom that harvests much of the energy needs required for Dave’s BrewFarm and residence. A geothermal heating system was installed to heat the property and uses the constant temperature of the earth to provide warmth with efficiencies upwards of 300% compared to other air-sourced heat pumps. Most of the water at the BrewFarm is sourced from a well, and all gray-water is stored underground until spring to water the fields. Dave’s BrewFarm is a beacon of self-sufficiency. They take a particularly thoughtful approach to how they utilize the earth around them. Even the grain goes to good use—neighboring cows are invited over to munch on the spent mash grain and have themselves a good time hanging out on the property.
The BrewFarm has built a great community around it. During open taproom hours, plenty of folks can be found hanging inside and out who love the feeling of getting outside of typical everyday life. A blend of folks from cities, suburbs, and the country come together to experience and participate in the old world farming life and often think of the farm as a place to visit again much like we’ve all done with our favorite vacation spot. Dave’s BrewFarm is removed from the busier side of the world—it operates at a different pace, idyllic, and peaceful.