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Feature Fri Jul 30 2010
The Central Waters Brewing Company has been creating notable "microbrew for the microfew" in central Wisconsin for over a decade, and recent brewhouse improvements have put them on the map as one of the leading energy-efficient small breweries in the Midwest.
The Central Waters Brewing Company was founded in 1998 in Junction City, Wisconsin by Mike McElwain and Jerome Ebel, two homebrewing friends. In 2001, the founders sold the business to colleague Paul Graham, who now owns the company with business partner Anello Mollica. In 2007, as demand increased and the original brewing equipment began to wear out, the brewery moved 30 miles southeast to the tiny town of Amherst.
In 1998, Central Waters took advantage of Wisconsin's Focus on Energy Program and received a $25,000 financial incentive to install a solar hot-water system. The roughly $100,000 system includes 24 solar collector panels and a 2,500-gallon solar hot-water storage tank. The new system also qualifies the business for substantial federal tax credits.
Central Waters requires over 1,500 gallons of water heated to 165°F each day to meet their current production levels. The solar hot water system allows the brewery to heat this water to 140°F, resulting in a substantial reduction in the amount of natural gas required to power their operations. The solar hot water system is also used to partially heat the water used for cleaning their brewing equipment, and to heat the brewhouse using a radiant floor system. Central Waters estimates that this new system covers nearly 20% of their yearly hot water needs and that their annual cost savings will cover the initial investment in less than seven years. The solar hot water system has an estimated life of 30 years. That's good news for the planet and for their bottom line -- it will save Central Waters over $1.4 million over this period.
Central Waters has also invested in energy-efficient lighting (saving $1,000 annually) and is committed to using locally grown barley in their brewing process, which benefits the local economy. They recycle spent grain by giving it to farmers who use it for composting and livestock feed.
Central Waters focuses on meeting demand within Wisconsin. Their six-packs can be purchased at quality liquor stores throughout the state and their beers can be found on tap in select central Wisconsin establishments. The brewery tap room is open Fridays from 4 pm to 9 pm and Saturdays 3pm to 9 pm. Our favorite brews include the Bourbon Barrel Stout, the Brewhouse Coffee Stout, and the Illumination Double IPA.
Central Waters Brewing Company
351 Allen Street
Amherst, Wisconsin 54406