It’s rare that when I approach a Pfister guest they open with a smile and the line, “We have an interesting story for you!” But this is exactly what happened on a recent Monday night in the Lobby Lounge when I sat down to chat with Peter, Vicky and Abby.
“We own a brewery called AleSmith Brewing Company and are here to introduce the brand to Wisconsin,” says Peter.
For a second I’m embarrassed by the non-craft beer I’m drinking – a light beer at that – but that feeling quickly fades thanks to the trio’s excitement about spending the week in Milwaukee and Madison where they will work with their new distributor, host beer dinners and visit the places that will offer their beer.
Peter opened AleSmith Brewing Company with two or three employees.
“For years, our brewery was like a home brewery on steroids,” he says.
The company has grown exponentially – today it employs 26 people – and racked up awards and medals from all over the world. About 1,000 people tour the brewery every week and AleSmith is now available in 11 states as well as Japan and Denmark.
“We’re really happy to be in a beer city,” says Peter, whose mother grew up in Racine. “I think because my mom is from this area she didn’t get mad when I told her I didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore, I wanted to brew beer.”
When Peter tells me he is also a cheesemaker, I demand he move back to Wisconsin immediately.
“I’ve thought about it. The Midwest has a certain charm,” he says.
The company brews about 12,000 barrels a year. To get a perspective, the Wisconsin-brewed New Glarus produces 120,000 barrels per year.
AleSmith Beer offers 10 year-round beers and five seasonals. Peter says the most popular brew is the Speedway Stout, a Russian Imperial Stout, that has made it onto lots of top 10 lists around the world.
“We’re small, but we’re growing,” says Peter.
AleSmith never spent one penny on advertising – nor did it have a marketing or sales department – but they are developing these areas now to accommodate the growth.
Peter and Abby, who handles the company’s distribution, started out as home brewers and consider themselves “beer geeks.”
“We’re all about the beer,” says Peter. “And we’re honored to have so much support. We have almost a cult-like following.”
Vicky handles the company’s HR and she and Peter were married four months ago. I ask if they met over beer.
“We sure did,” says Peter.
AleSmith’s logo features an anvil with a pint glass on it which seems appropriate for the company’s mission and illustrates the spirit of Peter, Vicky and Abby who are hard working and clearly passionate to what they do.
“It signifies a hand forged product. We’re hard working guys and girls making great beer,” says Peter.