By Barry Hoff | Bloomer Advance
Exciting things are happening at the Bloomer Brewing Company as Ryan and Michelle Stolt have taken the reins from Ryan’s parents Dan and Cindy Stolt. Dan and employee Evan Zwiefelhofer have stayed on as brew masters.
To say that Ryan and Michelle are pumped about the brewery, tap room and pub and the growth and direction the business is taking would be putting it mildly. The couple has purchased the old Southworth wash building on Ninth Avenue, just off of Martin Road (some may remember it as the location of Stumm’s Hatchery) and are busy remodeling it to be the new home of the Bloomer Brewing Company.
The Bloomer Brewing Company has been slowly but steadily growing over the years from its start when Dan was brewing five gallon batches to its present 200 gallon system. And, fittingly enough, Ryan was the catalyst behind Dan getting started in the brewing business.
While Ryan was living in Florida in the early 2000s his roommate introduced him to a place called Brewmasters where people could go, pick out a recipe and brew their own beer. One time when Dan and Cindy came for a visit Ryan took Dan with him to Brewmasters.
Dan said the beer was really good and he decided he could build a system and do that. When he got home, Dan started messing around brewing beer. After checking out beer recipes on the internet, Dan tried four or five before he found two he liked. He called his regular beer “Bloomer Beer” and the darker beer “Town Brown.” Over the years that number has expanded and the company now regularly brews 15 different beers and keeps 11 on tap.
While Dan was getting started (and expanding) the Bloomer Brewing Company, Ryan was still living in Florida and had met Michelle. The couple got married and eventually moved to Texas where they had a stable life Ryan said.
“It was probably around March or April of 2017 Mom and Dad were down vising us again and at the time he was just starting to get cranking on this new system,” said Ryan. “Probably had it running for almost a year, not even a year yet and he had made a comment saying, ‘Yeah, I think I’m probably going to look at selling out the brewing business, you know, maybe in four or five years.’ So I said, ‘Hold the brakes buddy, hold the brakes, cause I got dreams of running that.’ I said, ‘You’d better not go selling that to anybody before I get a chance at it.’”
“At the time we had a really stable life in Texas,” said Ryan. “I had a really good job, Michelle had a couple of really good part-time jobs. We had a really good life going in Texas and I don’t know how but I managed to convince this southern girl to move up here to the dead winter of Wisconsin.”
“I don’t think I really knew where Wisconsin was on a map,” said Michelle. “Had I known I probably would not have jumped on that band wagon.”
Ryan found a job in Eau Claire and the couple sold there brand new house in Texas, 10 months after they moved into it, and they moved to Bloomer in 2017. They found a house on Lake Como and Michelle got a job as a lifeguard at the aquatic center.
“I work the six to noon shift so get mainly the seniors,” said Michelle, “which have really just embraced my southerness to Wisconsin.”
“So, that’s how we got from Florida to Texas back to here,” said Ryan.
Regarding the brewery, Ryan said, it’s been growing at a reasonable but steady pace over the last three years.
“We started bottling in February of 2018,” said Ryan. “That was a huge growth for us. Then this year in February or March we decided to partner up with a distributer, General Beer Northwest.”
And then on May 1 the couple closed on the company’s new location at 1103 Ninth Ave., in the old Southworth wash building. They are currently working on plans and remodeling and hope to be open in the new location by late fall 2019.
Dan, Ryan and Michelle all said that the decision to move out of the old Bloomer Brewery building, with all of its history and nostalgia was a difficult one to make. But, the new building will have increased space, including cooler space, and room to expand the brew system to effectively triple beer production and eventually adding a canning line.
The move will also allow the couple to build on changes they are currently making right now.
Through her employment as a lifeguard at the aquatic center Michelle got to know Butch Nehring and his friends. Through conversations with them she learned that there was a demand for a lite beer so Bloomer Brewing Company created “Bloomer Butch Lite,” for those who want a beer that’s less filling.
The business also started opening on Tuesday nights and on July 2 they launched Tasty Tuesdays. On Tuesdays the couple is donating part of the beer sales from the tap room and pub plus half the proceeds from a special raffle drawing to a local organization (July’s organization is the Bloomer Lake Association). The winner of the raffle gets a special guided tour, with Ryan and Dan, of the brewing company and they get to taste all of the beers in the brew room, packaging room and aging room.
They are also bringing in more live music with bands playing a couple times per month. Oktoberfest will be back on Sept. 14 with two bands and Firewoods pizza. At the new location they will be offering pizzas, kolaches and pretzels from Bohemian Ovens. They also plan on offering root beer floats made with their own homemade root beer.
Ryan remembers fondly the A&W on Martin Road and said, “We’re bringing the root beer float back to Martin Road.”
Also, as part of the community theme on Tuesday nights, the couple is hoping to feature community acts including high school and other area bands and other acts. If you or someone you know has a talent to showcase let Ryan or Michelle at the Bloomer Brewing Company know.
Another way that Ryan and Michelle and the Bloomer Brewing Company are involved in the community is working with Justin Kunsman and the Bloomer Community Club to help organize the first ever Bloomer Beer and Wine Fest on Saturday, Aug. 24. They will also be donating the tasting mugs for the event.
Ryan and Michelle also said that with the Bloomer Brewing Company they are trying to build something that will draw people into the community.
Ryan said that they have had people from Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan go out of their way to stop at the Bloomer Brewing Company. He also said that they want to grow with the community and see the community grow with them, adding that they hope to hire more people as the business grows.
Summing it up Ryan said, “More than anything we are passionate about the community and the people in it.”
Ryan and Michelle have two children, Jacob, 8, and Grace, 5.