When selecting its 40 under 40, our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal looked for those who represent the city best. So it's fitting they selected Good City Brewing Company.
"It's the talk of the East Side," Mark Kass, Editor at the Milwaukee Business Journal said. "You go down there on a Saturday night, or any night and it's busy. It's unique."
Good City has only been open for about 18 months but business has been booming. In the short amount of time, they've already expanded the building to include a private event space and rooftop bar (weather permitting, of course). Production has ramped up as well. In its first six months, they made about 500 barrels of beer and in 2017, increased to roughly 2,500 barrels.
They have their sights on doubling that number in 2018 and it's thanks in large part to one-third of Good City's founders, Dan Katt.
"It's a great honor," Katt said. "I've been in business in Milwaukee for a long time. There are a lot of people who have gone through the program who have done great things and continue to do great things in Milwaukee. So I'm thrilled to be a part of that group and to be recognized."
Katt leaves the brewing to the other members of his team; brewmaster Andy Jones and co-founder David Dupee.
But one thing they all share, aside from a love of great beer, is a love for Milwaukee. About two and a half years ago, the three men who were friends happened upon a brewer's conference in Portland in 2015 and the rest is history.
"We were all there for different reasons," Katt said. "That was the impetus for us to say, alright. Let's make this happen."
The team perfected their beers with the expertise of Jones who spent time at both Goose Island and Lakefront. Their now award winning beers have been a beacon on the East Side Renaissance.
"We had a love for Milwaukee and a love for craft beer, and wanted to participate in restoring part of Milwaukee's beer heritage," Katt said. "Because it is a beer town."
The skyrocket of success hasn't been easy but Katt makes it a point to help out others with it. Each month, they host different area non-profits for fundraisers. They also bartend themselves and give the proceeds to other charities. Their biggest commitment is with the Milwaukee Film Festival. They even crafted a lager named after the festival to try and support the local scene.
Katt says the festival is the fastest growing in the country. They're the official beer sponsor for it.
All of this is great for business. But what's more important is bettering Milwaukee. All three men made a commitment to set down roots because they believe in Milwaukee.
And, if it doesn't already, Milwaukee should believe in them.
"We spend some time giving back to Milwaukee," Katt said. "Good City comes out of our love for Milwaukee and doing good things and being creative and entrepreneurial with the lives we have here. We were going to put down roots in Milwaukee and buy houses in Milwaukee and have families here and start businesses and do things to contribute to making Milwaukee better."
There is a certain complex Milwaukee has because of a certain neighbor to the south. Living in the Windy City's shadow can lend Brew City residents to some jealousy but Katt bucks that trend.
"Milwaukeeans, we sell ourselves short," Katt said. "We tend to look down the freeway or the lakefront at Chicago and [ask], why aren't we that? I don't think we want to be that. I think we want to be ourselves. I think we want to have authentic experiences. I think Milwaukee is gaining more and more national recognition as an authentic, great city to be in."
For a city with a history steeped in beer, Milwaukee embraces the superb suds it produces. Its history continues to be written and Good City will be a big part of that.
"Hopefully our story can be inspiring to people who are on the fence whether to stay or chase an opportunity somewhere else," Katt said. "There is a ton of opportunity in Milwaukee. You just have to make the commitment and dig your heels in and get after it. I'm in love with the city so I think maybe it's a nod to that. I've been fortunate enough to do work I love and that work contributes to the vitality of Milwaukee."
Milwaukee and Good City Brewing Co. will take the national stage this Sunday, Jan. 28 at 8:00 p.m. on the Travel Channel. The booming brewery will be highlighted on the show, "Food Paradise."