A decades-long history of brewing will soon be revived through the newly created company North Pillar Brewing. Co-founders Ethan Boehm and Braden Hocking are looking to lease the building located at 212 E. North St. in Waukesha to start their own brewing business.
Since its construction, the building has been home to several breweries, including the Weber-Bethesda Brewing Company, which opened in 1870.
“The concept (for the brewery) didn’t really come into the picture until we found this location,” said Boehm. “Us being the home brew beer geeks that we are, we thought this was really special.”
Boehm and Hocking met working at the Northern Brewer home brewing supply shop in West Allis. Boehm served as the manager while Hocking worked part time. His main job was based in the food science industry.
“We were both in the same chapters of our lives when this idea first started in the spring of 2020,” said Boehm. “We were both starting families at the time and breweries are great places for families to go.”
Both men live in Waukesha and saw a need for a new brewery as the city has continued to grow.
The southern portion of the future North Pillar Brewing building was built by German immigrant Stephen Weber from 1870-1873. The brewery was producing 2,200 barrels of beer a day by 1882, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. During Prohibition, the brewery was converted into a dairy. In 1933, it was once again used as a brewery. The northern portion of the building was constructed as a bottle house in 1946. Then, in 1958, the brewery merged with Waukesha-based Fox Head Brewing Company.
The building is 6,000 square feet and more than half of that space will be a dedicated to tap room space. There will also be a game area and TV/lounge space for families to enjoy.
North Pillar won’t offer its own food on site but plans to have a station for food trucks in front of the building. Boehm said the building has a “very industrial feel” and features several large pillars throughout the interior, which is in part how the name North Pillar was born.
“We want to modernize the building a bit, but not strip it of what makes it so special,” said Boehm. “We’ll add mid-century touches and furnishings like that.”
Construction is anticipated to start next month and be completed in late fall. North Pillar will start out with about eight staff members. All of the brewing will be done by Boehm and Hocking initially.
The brewery’s projection for year one is approximately 420 barrels. Boehm said North Pillar doesn’t want to box itself into brewing only one type of beer. They’ll brew once a week on a seven-barrel system and try everything from sour ales to IPAs.
“We could maybe even do a pre-prohibition lager if Weber Brewing is even still out there,” said Boehm. “We plan on brewing it all.”