New Glarus brewing WI values into every bottle
NEW GLARUS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- It started from nothing in an abandoned building. Now, it is a Wisconsin icon worth tens of millions of dollars.
Deb Carey says she and her husband Dan started New Glarus Brewery in 1993 because "we really just aren't corporate people."
Dan Carey was a master brewer moving up the corporate ladder at Anheuser Busch, so they took a risk when they moved from Colorado to Wisconsin. "We sold our house, and I negotiated for some used equipment at an SBA foreclosure sale, and we got an old abandoned building that was built during the Vietnam war and some used dairy tanks, and we started brewing," Deb said.
The risk paid off. Today New Glarus is the 25th largest brewery in America. In 2017, New Glarus will brew 240,000 barrels of beer, and that number will grow in 2018 thanks to a new expansion. Deb Carey says the expansion can't come soon enough. "We ran out of beer this summer. We ran out of 12-pack bottles, and ran short on cans."
While Deb Carey is the entrepreneur, Dan Carey is the brewmaster. He seems most at home explaining the science of making beer, and despite the runaway success of Spotted Cow and other beers that he created, he takes nothing for granted. "My Irishness makes me believe that good times will pass," he said.
The good times may pass someday, but right now New Glarus is on a roll. Deb Carey says it is growing 10-15% every year, all without selling a single can, bottle, or keg outside the state of Wisconsin. This success has made them a target, bigger breweries keep asking if the Careys want to sell. "Just got asked again this week," Deb said, adding that these offers keep getting the same answer: "No, no, and no."
Deb and Dan are turning down a huge amount of money. How much? This summer Anchor Brewery sold to Japanese beer company Sapporo for $85-million. Since New Glarus brewery sells more beer than Anchor, and has a needed expansion on the way, it's not a stretch to think New Glarus would command a similar or even higher price tag. But the Careys say they don't think of the money, they think of the consequences if they sold. "Usually when small businesses sell out to somebody bigger, the first thing they do is cut wages, get rid of healthcare, and make people reapply for their jobs. And we don't want to do that to our people," Deb said.
A commitment to their employees and the environment seems to enter into all the Careys decision making. They pride themselves on being one of the most environmentally-friendly breweries in the country. "Sustainability is a buzzword nowadays, but you know our grandparents were into sustainability. Waste not, want not," Dan said.
The beer people drink is a personal choice, often based solely on flavor. But Deb and Dan Carey say along with great taste, at New Glarus, Wisconsin values are brewed into every bottle. "I would challenge people to pay attention to where their money goes," Dan said.
Dan Carey says that New Glarus will soon be taking advantage of a great cherry harvest, and invites beer drinkers to look forward to a special 25th Anniversary brew.