Brewing economy

(First published in the November 1, 2018 issue of City Pages)

Years in the works, Mosinee Brewing Company is nearly ready to open, as the owner pays loving attention to every detail


Jacquelyn Forbes Kearns, owner of Mosinee Brewing Company, expects to open in a few weeks.

In downtown Mosinee, the corner of Main and Fourth streets is a busy place (Hwy. 153 follows this route) and passers-by have long seen the future site of Mosinee Brewing Company and likely wondered why it was taking so long to open. The grand opening is still weeks away, but those attending a preview event last week got to see why. Owner Jacquelyn Forbes Kearns, who has been working on the project solo after splitting with a partner and obtaining the building, has been meticulously laboring over every detail.

That includes sourcing as much as possible from the central Wisconsin area, such as a bar top built with Wisconsin River rock from Wausau Tile, or repurposing every single piece of wood she could from the 100-year-old building, wire-brushing and refinishing the pieces to create lovely accents with character.

“I wish I could give you an exact date but the details take time,” Forbes Kearns says. “We’re not going to open until we’re nearly 100% ready.”

Forbes Kearns expects that to be in about three weeks. She anticipates opening Mosinee Brewing Company with 10 Wisconsin beers on tap, and hopes soon to finalize the license required to start brewing their own beer. Brewmaster Greg Sperry, a long time brewer and Forbes Kearns’ significant other, is looking to brew 16 different beers and is working on a partnership with Shriners for additional beers.

Mosinee Brewing Company also will have non-alcohol options, including several varieties of kombucha, and are installing an espresso machine. The tap room will offer a limited food menu, and that’s by design, Forbes Kearns says. She wants Mosinee Brewing to be a draw that benefits other businesses in Mosinee—customers will come for their beer and then patronize other restaurants in the area. They also have a separate event space that can host up to 104 people, or be divided to handle smaller events simultaneously.

Forbes Kearns expects to draw customers from across the region. She’s already getting calls from Minneapolis, Chicago, and even Texas. “We see us as a regional destination,” Forbes Kearns says. “We’re sort of centrally located between Wausau and Stevens Point.” They hope to capitalize on beer tourism, and the Mosinee location creates a corridor of sorts to connect the two brewery-heavy areas.

To help with the rebuilding, Mosinee Brewing received a $250,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. That boost helped Forbes Kearns focus on the details in the enormous building she has been working on over the past three-and-a-half years since she solely owned the building.