Sprecher to launch beer with locally grown hops

Glendale-based Sprecher Brewing Co. Inc. is crafting a new beer, its first brewed with locally grown Wisconsin hops.
The brewery, founded in 1985, makes a variety of beer and soda. Sprecher usually has its hops shipped from Germany, Oregon and Washington.
This year, Sprecher and several other brewers started a hops cooperative to encourage farmers to grow the beer crop in Wisconsin again, said Randy Sprecher, founder and CEO. Area farmers stopped growing it around the time of the prohibition, he said.
“There’s a whole bunch of us involved that paid in startup seed money,” he said. “It’s a start up of an old tradition that was shut down way back.”
Sprecher bought about 200 pounds of hops from a grower in Amherst for the new beer, tentatively called Wisconsin Dry Hops Lager.
Since they’re so fresh, the local hops went into the lager within 24 hours, he said.
“We think it’ll be uniquely different and genuinely Wisconsin,” Sprecher said. “This will hopefully develop into a regular annual crop for us.”
He has brewed and is aging about 40 half-barrels for the first batch and will ask friends to provide feedback before deciding whether to put the locally grown beer into production.
“It’s very drinkable, refreshing, crisp and we’re just waiting to see how much hop and/or floral character develops,” Sprecher said.
Sprecher Brewing has about 50 employees and makes more than 15,000 barrels of beer. Randy Sprecher expects to receive 50,000 paid tour guests this year, and said beer sales are up about 22 percent over last year.

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