St. Francis Brewery
We sat down with Gateway to Milwaukee business association member, Tom Dillon, at St. Francis Brewery, for a conversation about the business of beer. Tom works “behind the scenes” for St. Francis Brewery and often handles many of the restaurant’s off-site food and beverage events.
When was St. Francis Brewery established?
St. Francis Brewery was established in 2009. The original intentions that the city had for the formerly vacant land at the intersection of South Kinnickinnic and Howard Avenue back in 2007, was to build a small retail area on that corner, but because of the real estate decline at that time, it was suggested to St. Francis Brewery owner, Rick Michalski that a Brew Pub may work in that location. Rick began this endeavor with little to no experience in the beer industry (as Rick is a pharmacist and attorney by trade), but knew that this venture had major potential for success. At that time, there were just a few small craft breweries in the area.
You call your restaurant a “Brew Pub.” How is it different from other craft breweries?
Once known as the “Beer Capital,” the rise in small craft breweries in and around Milwaukee in recent years has added to and continued that trend, with nearly 20 breweries calling the Milwaukee area home. Currently, breweries can be broken down into three separate sub-categories: “Brewery,” “Nano Brewery,” or “Brew Pub.” With the designation as a Brew Pub, St. Francis Brewery can serve and sell its brewed beer on premise as well as offer food in a restaurant setting.
Can people purchase your beers at other places besides your restaurant?
St. Francis Brewery has 20 accounts in the immediate area and one account in Madison, including four hotels within the distance of the Brewery. A few of the places that you can find St. Francis Beer in the area area are Milwaukee Burger, the Melting Pot in Brookfield and Sam’s Tap.
St. Francis Brewery runs a beer garden (managed by Tom) through a partnership with Milwaukee County at Humboldt Park in Bayview and can also be seen at other festivals and food events throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. In addition to a great selection of tap beers, St. Francis hosts pig and corn roasts at various times throughout the year.
Why is your Brew Pub so popular?
St. Francis Brewery is located very close to the interstate and especially I-794, the airport, Amtrak stop and the Lake Express, making it a great place to catch a quick bite to eat before a meeting, meet clients for lunch, or get something to eat or drink before catching a flight at General Mitchell International Airport. The restaurant is also known for Friday Fish Fries and Sunday brunches.
Are you thinking of expanding because of your popularity?
There is a vacant building located on the north end of the restaurant which has been purchased for expansion. St. Francis Brewery is looking to turn this former industrial building into a banquet room with a 150+ person capacity, additional brewery space, where group tours will be offered. The popularity of the craft brewing industry has created the need for this expansion, taking advantage of the current tourism boom related to other area amenities and events such as the Harley Museum and festivals, Summerfest, the new Bucks arena and more – growing Milwaukee’s popularity as a destination place.
What beers does St. Francis Brewery offer?
Their original beers are known as “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Lust, Wrath, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Pride and Gluttony, with the most popular being their Lust brew. The Lust beer is an award-winning beer, named by Milwaukee Magazine as one of Milwaukee region’s, “Top Summer Beers.”
People who enjoy craft beers like to try something new and different. St. Francis’ Brew Master, Matt Hoffmann, has a passion for his work at the brewery. In addition to brewing their original lineup of beers, Matt appreciates the opportunity to create new and unique offerings. He has created an additional seven beers, ranging from Belgians to IPAs, to a more exotic peanut butter Porter and Maple Bock.
How do you think that St. Francis Brewery plays a role in the development of this area?
The Brewery partners with other businesses in the area, not only for assistance with business expansion, but also to search out new and creative partnerships. Recently, they were introduced to Sugar Bee Farms located right on S. 6th Street in the Airport Gateway District. This new partnership will incorporate the honey supplied by Sugar Bee Farms and will soon create a newly crafted honey beer. In turn, Sugar Bee Farms will plan on using the spent grain in a variety of applications.
St. Francis Brewery continues to bring new and exciting beers and pub menu items to the public to try. Their menu and line up of great tasting beers brings people from the community and from out of town to this area for business lunches, dinners, holidays and special occasions.
On April 21, St. Francis Brewery released their Limited Edition Belgian Sunrise Beer (made in Chardonnay barrels) available to the public for the first time.
St. Francis Brewery
3825 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
St. Francis, WI 53235
Open for most every major holiday, serving 7 days a week, and most evenings until 10:00 pm.