News/Press


Pigeon River Brewing Expansion Announced
Tuesday, April 26, 2016


    MARION, WI – Just three years into operations, Pigeon River Brewing has already outgrown their small 4000 sq ft facility across from the Shell station on Highway 45 in Marion. Demand has grown for the brewery’s flavorful offerings of beer and soda which are served through their on-site brewpub as well as being distributed to bars and restaurants throughout northeastern Wisconsin. Nathan Knaack, owner, says that the addition of the bottling line was the last straw to the facility’s already tight operations. “We just can’t efficiently keep growing production in our current location,” said Knaack. “We need to be able to use a forklift in the brewery to move pallets of bottles and kegs to coolers and then to our distributor’s trucks.”

    When it was time to make a move, staying true-to-their-roots was a no-brainer for Pigeon River. “We had been approached by other cities who offered financial assistance to move operations there,” said Knaack, “but Marion is our home. It’s where we started brewing, grew with the support of the community, and it’s where we intend to stay and raise our family.”

    With promises to stay local, the brewery plans to move operations across Highway 45 to Northwinds Banquet Hall. Dave Joerres is the owner of the local Northwinds Banquet Hall which is a full service banquet facility offering weddings, parties, holiday buffets, and catering. Northwinds has been providing Marion and the surrounding area with a gathering place for all events for over 15 years. Knaack explains, “Dave had approached us casually on several occasions and when we started realizing the many constraints we had, Northwinds was the first place that came to mind because of the continued support the community has provided with that facility.”

    Joerres comments, “ We are very excited to be working together with an up and coming heavy hitter in the craft brewing industry.” Both Joerres and Knaack seem to have similar views having both come from small towns and owning small businesses. Joerres explains, “ When talking business together, Nate had expressed the restrictions with his current facility and the growing needs of the brewery. The situation presented an opportunity for both Northwinds and Pigeon River to join together, remain local, and offer a unique atmosphere and experience for people to gather.”

    The brewery hopes to begin construction in early 2016 to convert the small side of the banquet hall to a brewpub complete with brewery, bar, and dining area. They hope to make existing customers comfortable in the new facility by capturing the same rustic/industrial décor as the existing brewpub. They will have booths for comfortable private dining and also hope to have an outdoor beer garden. With the addition to the brewery, none of the services will change that are currently offered at Northwinds. “We will provide the same quality of service and experience at Northwinds during the expansion and afterwards” confirms Joerres. “ 2016 looks to be a very solid year with weddings, sportsman banquets, and business meeting conferences which will only be enhanced by the transition with Pigeon River and also add to the experience for our customers.”

    The benefits of the expansion go far beyond the brewery. “We’re very constrained in our current location as far as parking space and the capacity of the kitchen. The kitchen at Northwinds is enormous. It’ll allow us to get food out much faster.” The brewpub currently specializes in burgers, homemade pizzas, and daily specials. With the move, they hope to expand the menu further. They have recently expanded hours to 11:00am-close Wednesday-Sunday, and also plan to be open more hours at the new location.

    Knaack and Joerres see the move as a mutually beneficial way to increase visibility for both the brewery and the banquet hall. Knaack says he hopes to foster relations between Pigeon River and other local businesses. “ We’ve done a lot of work with Dupont Cheese which sells and markets a Scottish Ale beer cheese with our beer and jointly shares a billboard with us. We are also thankful to the city of Marion and Mary Rogers who has been great to work with in providing assistance to us thus far.

    Indeed, brewery tourism is growing in Wisconsin, fueled by the increasing interest in craft beer produced by small breweries in communities all across the state. According to the Wisconsin Brewers Guild, there are more than 135 small breweries and brewpubs in the state employing more than 2,000 people and those numbers continue to grow as startups come online and existing breweries expand. In addition to attracting tourists, the broader economic impact of craft breweries in Wisconsin is approaching $2 billion and provides additional jobs in affiliated manufacturing, packaging, and agricultural industries. The Knaacks have been actively involved with the Wisconsin Brewers Guild’s efforts to foster a positive brewing environment in Wisconsin.

    “Breweries have a lot to offer to their communities in the way of jobs and tourism if communities just take up the opportunity to embrace them.” Knaack sees Pigeon River’s presence at the Shawano County Fair as a step in the right direction, and hopes to have Pigeon River featured at more community events in the future. “We are very grateful to all of our patrons who have embraced our business and craft beer. We will continue to focus on quality beer, hand-crafted food and friendly customer service.”

    Posted by Wisconsin Brewers Guild at 7:21 AM
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