My wife and I take a yearly trip into Wisconsin in early July to purchase fireworks. While setting a date for our pilgrimage she asked whether we should stop at a brewery on the way. Yet another affirmation that I’d married the right woman. On a late Friday afternoon we hopped onto I-94, crossed the St. Croix river, and rolled into Pitchfork Brewing Company.
Pitchfork Brewing is located in a strip mall on the outskirts of Hudson, Wisconsin. The taproom is unassuming from the front; the only nod to the brewery a small sign above the door. We stepped through the threshold and were presented with a quaint rustic taproom and a handful of locals scattered throughout.
They describe themselves as a nano-brewery and it’s easy to see why. With space for no more than 4o or 50 people and a small batch operation behind the bar, it’s cozy but not cramped. Right as we arrived, a table for two opened up at the far end of the room. The table stand was an old pitchfork anchored in a wooden bucket. They are definitely true to their namesake!
We then approached the bar to look at the beers on offer. With ten tap lines, two reserved for other Wisconsin breweries, they’ve got plenty of selection. As is usual, I ordered a flight of five beers. Samantha ordered a pint and while returning to our table I handed the bartender a CD she’d mistakenly placed facedown on the bar. After an awkward exchange it dawned on me that this was a coaster. A unique way to embrace the sustainability movement!
Before diving into the tasters we put an order of food in at Paddy Ryan’s next door. Standard pub grub. We embraced a cheese theme by ordering a Grilled Cheese Sandwich and a Mac n’ Cheese. The five beers in the flight were a Pitchfork’d Pale Ale, Late Frost White IPA, American Gothic IPA, Outwitted Wit, and Cast Iron Oatmeal Stout. All of the beers were brewed quite well and representative of their styles. Nothing gimmicky or flashy about any of them, but clearly serving the locals quite well. The star of the flight was Late Frost. It had straw gold color, a bit of malt, good hoppiness, and a Germanesque quality to it. A touch of cloves rounded things out to create a well balanced IPA.
I noticed a couple of other details during our visit. They’ve got an “on deck” list that tells you what they’ve got brewing. A small touch but I’d really appreciate it if I was a regular visitor. They’ve got grain sacks on the walls framed and hung like art. This really adds to the rustic vibe. The logo is, understandably, a pitchfork spearing a giant hop cone. Their bar dominates the space with a handful of wooden booths and a large table with a barrel base and standard bar stools.
As the sun set and streamed through the windows we knew it was time to wrap things up. We had to go buy some fireworks after all. It was an older crowd and the atmosphere was mellow. The bartenders were chatting people up and talking about breweries they’d visited across both states. Were I a local, I can see myself visiting regularly to try each of their new brews as they come out of the fermenter. If the crowd was any indication as we left, I’d say Pitchfork Brewing Company will do just fine.