Building a business is not easy. Then try operating it during a pandemic. And making it dog friendly once a week. Plus make it profitable, community-oriented and ethically managed. Simultaneously checking all those boxes may sound nearly impossible, but so far Delta Beer Lab is doing just that—and more—on the southside of Madison.
“We pay our employees a living wage, plus revenue sharing. We charge about $1 more per beer and our employees don’t accept tips. However, we knew guests would want to leave a tip regardless, so our nonprofit partner program was born. We choose a local nonprofit each month to receive any tips given in the taproom,” says Delta Beer Lab co-owner Michelle “Speedy” Riehn. “Since we opened our doors in February of 2019, our guests have donated over $42,000 to our chosen partners. Some past groups we’ve worked with include the Double Dollars program through the Community Action Coalition (CAC), Briarpatch Youth Services, Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, and Freedom Inc. And we are going to finish out 2020 with Free Bike 4 Kidz, an org we collected almost 70 bikes for in September; now we want to help raise money to get them fixed up.”
If drinking for a good cause sounds like an ideal way to ease into winter, two seasonal craft brews currently on tap include:
- KSR.06 (Blackberry Cobbler Gose): A fruited kettle sour that, according to Riehn, “smells like dessert is fresh from the oven, while ripe blackberries fold into graham cracker and toasted granola notes. This sour’s tartness is balanced by berry sweetness. Ample carbonation provides effervescence, while the appearance is cloudy from the generous dose of blackberry puree.”
- AMB.01 (Amber Ale): “True-to-style, it’s appearance is deep amber to soft red and filtered brite,” she explains. “Aromatic caramel malts pair with just enough Chinook hops to lend slight pine and citrus aromas and a touch of hop spice to complement sweet nutty and biscuit flavors.”
Also just because colder weather is on the horizon does not mean this brewery will be limiting it’s production or outdoor events anytime soon. Riehn hints to keep an eye out for the return of their PTR.02 (Coconut Chai Stout), a sweet stout which she describes as a “labor of love” since it takes a pro level of beer chemistry to obtain the ideal balance between the chai spices and coconut milk in terms of taste.
The other crowd pleaser the brewery is resurrecting from last year is Friendsgiving at the Lab event—a free community Thanksgiving dinner. “Due to COVID-19, our outdoor celebration will be tailgate-style while we pour pints, play music, grill up burgers and provide plenty of (side) fixin’s,” Riehn says. “We are working with local grocers to get food items donated and any monetary donations from this event will be added to the FB4K monthly total.” So get ready to pull up a chair, socially distance and raise a glass to kicking off the holiday season with stellar beer.