State of Craft Beer: Wisconsin

Not your average coffee table book

Aug. 25, 2016
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Meet Matt Janzen, the photographer behind State of Craft Beer. This 26 year old waved goodbye to a promising career at a local advertising agency in August 2015 to travel 30,000 miles chasing his passions: photography & craft beer. If you ask Matt why craft beer, he’ll answer like most people who love the industry: he loves beer. And he loves local and thinks the craft beer industry in Wisconsin does an amazing job of supporting this.

Matt walked me through telling his parents what he was going to do, and, as every mom would be, she was worried but ultimately supportive. And like any supportive dad with internet access, Matt’s facebook page was soon filled with craft beer memes. 

Then I asked how someone can live on the road for a year. Matt disclosed with a chuckle and one word: frugally; cashing in his 401k and couch surfing as much as possible, with the occasional night sleeping in his car. Matt never planned to to create a book from his experience, just show his love for craft beer and its industry.

Barley harvest. Photo by Matt Janzen

Matt’s pictures capture moments of the people behind the beer. Not just brewers but delivery drivers, hop farmers and tap handle makers. Matt expresses that Wisconsin’s land and climate are just right for growing barley and hops. Wisconsin beer lovers are fortunate enough to have speciality companies that create beer bottle packaging and brewing systems in our state for breweries across the United States, speciality products like local beekeepers where breweries get honey, and groves of maple trees where brewers will go tap the trees and use it’s sap in beer. Matt has visited over 120 locations across the State of Wisconsin. All have their place in the industry. All come with their own set of skills and knowledge and hard labor.

Photo by Matt Janzen

Meeting 95 brewers is an amazing accomplishment for someone not even in the industry! Some, Matt explains, have transferred from one brewery to another. No matter where the brewer is or what time they brew; they’re friendly, fairly laid back and sometimes offer coffee. Matt answered my question about his favorite breweries pretty carefully as he’s enjoyed the uniqueness each brewery and their employees offer. But some of his most memorable moments come from meeting Steve at Hinterland Brewery, Beau at South Shore Brewery , Tanner & Tyler at Sand Creek Brewing ,and head brewer, Allyson, at Thirsty Pagan Brewing. Not to mention a fondness for time spent with Deb at New Glarus Brewing Co. and Jean at Biloba Brewing Co. Matt also briefly shared about his time at Raised Grain Brewing in Waukesha. He went for a brew day and ended up hanging out with the whole crew and some of their family that had stopped by!

The kickstarter for Matt’s coffee table book, State of Craft Beer, has another six days and several different levels of support, starting at five dollars! Check out his campaign HERE and show your support. Also, though there aren’t official plans, Matt expresses interest in exploring other states and diving into their State of Craft Beer.


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