Westallion Brewing Company’s Passion to Brew Goes Beyond their German Heritage
If you’ve been paying attention to the Greater Milwaukee area at all, you’ve noticed the rapid rate at which breweries are opening. As they open, I think, “What makes them so different from the last brewery that opened?” Though I can’t answer that, I can share what I think makes Westallion Brewing Company stand out.
When I first met Erik Dorfner, I expected to nerd out with him over beers (we did) and talk about the challenges of opening a new brewery (we did that too). But what surprised me was the deep-rooted passion he possesses for the brewery he’s creating.
Erik’s parents emigrated from Bavaria, Germany and Erik eventually served in the Marine Corps. After his time in the Marines, he found himself working a few different positions at Lakefront Brewery. Through his initial exposure to the brewery world, Erik’s desire overcame him and he knew he needed to take the leap. Shortly after this, he quit his job at Lakefront and started the process of opening his own brewery.
You might be wondering what woman would let her husband quit a solid job at one of Milwaukee’s oldest breweries? A supportive one. I’ve never seen someone in any kind of relationship have their partner’s back as much as Kim does for Erik and vice versa. I’m about to get a little sappy so bear with me. It’s so strong and so full of love that you can see it, and not in a gross PDA way. I don’t know Erik and Kim personally and I’m sure like every couple they get on each others nerves but even they give my little black heart #RelationshipGoals. Side note: I was visiting a bar in West Allis and the lady I was talking to mentioned Westallion. I said, “Yes, I know of Erik and Kim.” She said, “Aren’t they just the best couple? So supportive and you can just see the love.” I told her I saw the same thing and thought it was just me. Apparently, it’s not.
With Kim all in, a call and some meetings got the Mayor of West Allis all in too (Erik must be very convincing). Then it was time to start from scratch. The first time I saw Westallion it was literally a shell of a building made out of concrete blocks. Erik was scraping old paint from the ceilings by himself, and there were spray paint markings for walls, bathrooms and the taproom’s bar. Along with the actual blueprint, Erik showed me where he wanted to place his five-barrel system and his six fermenters.
He shared his love for West Allis, which he thinks has gotten a bad rap but is now working hard to revive itself. He wants Westallion beer to not only reflect his heritage but also West Allis and the people that have come from it, like Liberace (Entertainer), Harvey Kuenn (MLB Player) and Dan Jansen (Olympic Gold Medalist).
I asked Erik “Don’t you have anyone helping you?” and he replied with every bit of sincerity, “My dream. My build.” Since then they have struggled with setbacks but have grown their team and stand strong with the support of their community. Looking to the future, they have their sights set for an opening in early 2017 with tap lines full of Erik’s tried and true beer recipes. Expect a full list of Scottish Ale, Vienna Lager, Pilsner, Hefeweizen and eventually a tap dedicated to a rotation of historical ales. Erik & Kim, I look forward to sharing a pint with you when you’re officially open! Prost!