Indeed Brewing is expanding its operations in Wisconsin by building a second brewery and taproom in Milwaukee. The new 10-barrel brewery will be located at 530 South Second Street in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, which co-owner Tom Whisenand says reminds him distinctly of their home hood of Northeast Minneapolis.
Whisenand says that, while the project has been in the works for the past year and a half, it’s an idea that’s been in the cards since he and co-owner Nathan Berndt opened Indeed six years ago with co-founder Rachel Anderson. As other production breweries around the country have gone out on a limb with large-scale multi-state distribution rollouts, Indeed has chosen to take a slower approach to opening new markets. “We’ve always prided ourselves on being very narrow and deep,” Whisenand says, noting that most of their beer is sold in Minnesota, and 70 percent is sold in the Twin Cities.
Though bringing its beers to Wisconsin has long been a part of their plan, the decision to build a second brewery and taproom in Wisconsin came after a lot of thought and deliberation. “We look at Wisconsin as being a long-term, integral part of our success, and that’s why we haven’t [really] distributed beer out there yet,” he says. “We’re doing the self-distribution thing, but we were always asking the question of how can we be successful out there to the level that will really contribute to the long term success of Indeed?
He says that they’ve watched and learned from other Minnesota breweries that have launched distribution in Wisconsin in the past few years. “It’s a difficult market to be successful in,” he concludes. In part, because of the challenges in distribution and retail affecting the craft beer industry at large, but also due to the competitive beer pricing driven by breweries like Wisconsin’s big brewers, as well as Wisconsinites loyalty to their state’s breweries.
By building a second location, the company will have a base of operations to support distribution from Minnesota, which will also give them the flexibility to experiment with new beer recipes and roll out special releases thanks to smaller, more nimble brewhouse. But above all, the new brewery will help them introduce Wisconsin patrons to the taproom experience that has partly defined Indeed’s brand.
“There are some great breweries in Milwaukee, and some great taprooms, but we felt like there wasn’t anything [in the Walker’s Point neighborhood] quite like what we like to do at Indeed with our style of taproom and our style of beer.” Whisenand says conversations with several brewery, bar, and liquor store owners in Milwaukee about their idea relieved their concerns regarding whether they’d gain the acceptance of local beer drinkers and industry professionals in Milwaukee.
“Ultimately our intentions are very much driven by being a part of the community, and I think our brewery has a great reputation of being a part of the community and giving back to the community,” he explains. Indeed plans to hire brewery and taproom staff from the Milwaukee area, and will carry over their Indeed We Can giving program from their Minneapolis taproom that raised over $100,000 in donations to nonprofits last year.
Indeed hopes to begin construction on the new brewery this January and be open by mid-summer if all goes according to plan. In the meantime, Whisenand will split his time between Minneapolis and Milwaukee to get the brewery online.
“I just got back from Milwaukee this morning, and I love it there. It’s a very complementary town to Minneapolis, I think,” he says. Which was a major reason they chose Milwaukee in the first place. “It just felt like home for us.”
The Growler’s Brian Kaufenberg and Lauren Sauer contributed to this story.