Copper State Brewing prepares to open
GREEN BAY - Copper State Brewing Co. won't open for two months, but it's eager to roll out the barrels.
Having acquired Hinterland Brewery's Dousman Street building and its equipment, the start-from-scratch brewery will have more than the usual scratch with which to start. Hinterland will vacate Dousman Street after next weekend. Its last day of food service will be April 1.
Copper State will be the seventh brewery to open in Green Bay, and while it will have a restaurant and coffee shop at 313 Dousman St., beer will be the priority.
"At the end of the day, we want to be known for beer," said co-owner Gregg Mattek.
The metro area is still short of the saturation point, Mattek said. More breweries establish Green Bay as a destination for beer lovers.
"If we can draw people from Madison and Milwaukee to visit our breweries, that's a plus for everybody," he said.
Copper State Brewing is a cousin to Copper Rock Coffee Co. in Appleton. They are separate companies but share owners and names, though Mattek said the latter is more coincidence than intentional. But it's a useful coincidence because Copper Rock will have a presence in the Copper State operation.
Copper State Brewing is owned by seven couples, all family members, including Mattek and his wife, Heather, and Bill and Emily Heiges. The Heigeses own Copper Rock Coffee and Bill is cousin to Gregg.
"Most of our folks that own Copper State have gone through Copper Rock (as employees). We are all family and all in the area," said Mattek, whose day job is with Microsoft. Before that, he worked for Kimberly-Clark, and he is a longtime craft beer brewer.
Head brewer Jon Martens, a mechanical engineer by trade, quit his job to attend brewing school and has worked with Hinterland since July to learn more.
"Between Jon's engineering mind and my operations experience, we've been working on increasing efficiencies," Mattek said.
Copper State bought Hinterland's brewing equipment and will add a pilot brewing system that will allow production of small batches.
"We want to have you come in and help us decide what becomes the next big-batch beer," he said.
The Copper State crew understands both the benefits and the challenges of moving into the building after Hinterland's years of success.
"'Pressure' isn't a bad way to say it," Mattek said. "We are coming in behind a very successful business. There is a clientele that expects a certain level of services and certain level of product."
He would rate Copper State's food aspirations as somewhere between Hinterland's high-end restaurant at that site and neighbor Titletown Brewing Co.'s more accessible fare.
"Where you'll see the most difference is price points; excellent quality but more standardized. We want to be accessible, but attractive to foodies," Mattek said. "You'll see some awesome burgers and pizza, somewhere in the teens for entree items. We'll have normal steaks and chops and seafoods."
He is quick to say, however, that beer, not food, will be Copper State's focus. That will include removing some first floor walls and installing a 30-foot bar with a view of the brewing operation.
Remodeling, valued "in the low $100,000s," will begin after Hinterland's departure. Copper State will open somewhere around Memorial Day.
At the start, they will not bottle, though they expect to work up to providing kegs for local bars.
"Our approach is hyper-local, by which we mean across our own bar," Mattek said.
Inside seating will be between 200 and 250. A proposed outdoor beer garden designed after the German style could hold another 150.
"We have an unobstructed view of the river. We want to take advantage of that," he said.
Copper Rock will lease space for a coffee shop on the main floor. It will open early in the morning and operate until after lunch, when brewery staff will take over, though coffee will remain available throughout the day.
Matteck said Heiges acquired a rare, German-made coffee roaster that will be installed in the building.
"You are seeing a lot of coffee shop/breweries popping up," he said.
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Copper State Brewing Co.
Address: 313 Dousman St.
To open: Around Memorial Day weekend. Date to be determined.
What is it: A craft brewery and restaurant. Copper Rock Coffee also will be in the building.
Owners: Seven couples, including Gregg and Heather Mattek and Bill and Emily Heiges.
Head brewer: Jon Martens
Executive chef: Scott Halbach
Operations manager: Justin Carberry
Employees: 15. Job fairs are planned for April 8 and 11.