MILWAUKEE — Now is your chance to become brewmaster for a day at the Milwaukee vegan craft brewery, Dead Bird Brewing Company.
"We’ve put donuts and coffee in a beer. We’ve done a bunch of fresh fruit. We have a wild forager on our staff," Nick Kocis, the owner of Dead Bird Brewing, said.
Like Willy Wonka, if you can dream it, the team at Dead Bird Brewing at 1726 N. 5th St. in Milwaukee can probably brew it.
It's all part of a fundraising campaign the brewery is doing to help offset costs brought on by the pandemic.
"So we had to put a lot of things on hold that we weren’t expecting to put on hold in our first year," Kocis said.
One of those was a big purchase of their own large-scale brewing equipment. Dead Bird Brewing just opened its taproom in September 2019. They closed in March 2020, reopened in May 2020, closed again in October 2020, and are hopefully reopening this May. To grow as a brewery, they need the equipment to scale up in size. With so many shutdowns, that became difficult.
Now the brewery is turning to small local individual investments for help.
"So most of our investors are from the Milwaukee and southern Wisconsin area, which is really exciting because they are also our customers," Kocis said.
They don't want a loan from a bank. Instead, they are focusing on a grassroots effort to raise money locally. The minimum investment is $100 with a $160 return on investment. Obviously, that increases as you invest more. However, there are added incentives for larger investments.
For $1,000, you could own your own bar stool with your name on it at the brewery. It gives you 10 percent off all your orders for life. You are even given the special privilege to kick people out of your seat.
"If someone else is sitting in your stool, you can politely ask them to move, and if they say they don’t see your name on it, you can point," Kocis said.
The person who moved will also be given a free beer and a high five.
For a $5,000 investment, you can become brewmaster for a day. They will work with you to come up with a unique beer specially crafted to your desires. You can have a small tasting party as well as take some home. What's more, your brew will even be on tap temporarily, so others can try it too.
All these added bonuses are on top of the financial return from your investment.
Fundraising is coordinated through Mainvest, a crowdfunding website like GoFundMe or KickStarter; however, all investments are regulated by the Financial Industrial Regulatory Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It's designed to be a secure way to support local community-oriented businesses across the country.
If you do make an investment into Dead Bird and they do not reach their $50,000 goal, your money will be refunded.
As to the vegan question, not all beer is vegan-friendly for vegans to drink. Some beers use 'finer agents' that are used during the production process to help make the beer be clearer. Those agents are derived from animals. Also, in certain beers like milk stouts, milk sugar is used, which is not vegan.
The brewery also features 21 retro arcade games, two pinball machines and a shuffleboard.