Black Husky Brewing Brings Doggone Good Beer to Riverwest
When Tim and Toni Eichinger began home brewing in their log cabin in Pembine, a small town in Marinette County, Wis., they didn’t necessarily set out to be full-time craft brewers. Yet when one has a great product—especially beer—word travels fast, even from “Up North.” Black Husky Brewing, the Eichingers’ craft beer company, moved operations to Milwaukee and opened a taproom this past August at 909 E. Locust St. Each beer variety features one their retired sled dogs on the label.
Tim and Toni grew up on Milwaukee’s South Side and lived in West Allis before moving to Pembine in 1999. Tim’s home-brewed beers became popular with their northern neighbors, so in 2010, the couple obtained state and federal licensing to brew commercially. They had a presence at summer beer festivals in Eagle River and Minocqua that attracted many people from the Milwaukee area, encouraging them to distribute here.
Sugar Maple was one of their first customers. As word about Black Husky Brewing grew, Tim’s deliveries to Milwaukee became more frequent. It became apparent that they had a large market in Milwaukee, so they decided to return to build the business and be closer to their son and grandson.
With help from the Milwaukee 7 economic development group, the Eichingers purchased and renovated the former Manyo Motors building, which proved ideal due to the large garage door and outdoor space for a patio. The Eichingers researched the Riverwest neighborhood and were impressed by its history and diversity.
The taproom features a spacious log bar, uniquely combining North Woods touches with the industrial-hip decor. The taproom features eight of Black Husky’s 18 different beers: year-round varieties like pale ale and Sproose—an ale brewed with spruce; seasonals like Harvel the Marvel (honey ale) and Big Buck Brown Ale (brewed with maple syrup); and the Beware of the Dog series, which are more extreme with lots of hops.
The pale ale is named after the husky, Howler, and according to the story on the label, “Like Howler, our Pale Ale does not let others define its style…” The brew is full-bodied, yet smoother and lighter than most pale ales, and the bitterness doesn’t linger much beyond the first couple of sips. It’s flavorful, but not overpowering. “We work hard to brew in a way with more malt and body so you don’t have the harshness,” Tim said.
The pale ale and Sproose are most popular, along with a couple of varieties crafted with different and harder-to-obtain hops like Mosaic or Citra. The taproom offers growlers and 22-ounce bottles are available for purchase from a cooler.
At one point, the Eichingers had 23 dogs in their kennel. When they make a beer, they label the bottle with a different dog on each one. Tim said they hope to expand during the first quarter of next year, and they have a few more beers to develop to get all of the dogs on a label. These days, the Eichingers just have Smoky, who is almost 16 and can be seen lounging behind the bar, enjoying the attention. “She likes being a city dog,” Tim said.
For more information, visit BlackHuskyBrewing.com.