(First published in the September 12, 2019 issue of City Pages)
Chris Gethers will soon open a huge brewery in Stevens Point—so big, it will also be a co-working space and food businesses incubator
Chris Gethers hopes to open District 1 Brewery in Stevens Point by Nov. 1.
Brewing has long been a hobby for Chris Gethers, and at times a second job. But ever since he obtained a Masters of Business Administration degree in 2002, Gethers had business plans to open a brewery.
He hopes that will become a reality in November. A brewing system has been installed, contractors lined up and work is underway on District 1 Brewing Co. in Stevens Point, what will be the latest entry into the central Wisconsin micro-brewery market.
Gethers is a papermaker by trade. He went to UW-Stevens Point for paper science, worked in Nekoosa where he grew up and then in Munising, Mich., a town much like Minocqua that swells to several times its population during the summer. While working there he lived in nearby Marquette, which had several breweries in a place with similar demographics to Point. That gave him confidence that a municipality of that size could sustain a brewery.
The space for District 1 Brewing, 200 N. Division St., is huge, at 12,000 square feet. Even with the brewing system, offices and dock, there’s still about 7,000 square feet of additional floor space. And Gethers has plans for it.
Besides the obvious live music and events, Gethers plans the extra space to be something of a market, with co-working offices, food startup businesses, coffee, and food trucks. He’d like to even provide heating and cooling equipment for the food entrepreneurs to help them serve at the brewery. Customers coming in to shop, drink or eat would pay for everything in one place.
What about the beer? Gethers, 44, not only brewed at home for a few decades, he also worked as the brewer for a nano-brewery in Michigan (while still working in the paper industry). He started a home brew club there that led to several of its members becoming professional brewers.
District 1 has all the licenses ready to go, Gethers says, so once construction is finished, all that’s needed is the occupancy permit. The brewing equipment is all American made and some comes from Marshfield. Using local materials was important, Gethers says, to create a sense of community. “If you look at the story we have behind the brewhouse, there’s a common theme of local and fresh,” Gethers says.
Though District 1 might put out some beers for distribution, its main focus will be fresh beers for the tap room. The tap room will have 24 taps, and the aim, besides selling District 1 brews, is to offer other craft beers that people might not have a chance to try elsewhere. Gethers has agreements with breweries in the Fox Valley area, and will work with some in Michigan.