Thirsty Pagan Raises a Glass to Wisconsin Craft Brewery Day

Baihly Warfield
Updated: September 26, 2019 06:21 PM

At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, in craft breweries across Wisconsin, "Cheers!" erupted. 


Gov. Tony Evers (D-Wis.) declared it Wisconsin Craft Brewery Day, and he and other state officials visited eight breweries to celebrate. 

Evers raised a pint at the La Cross Oktoberfest, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes visited Octopi Brewing in Waunakee, and Superior's Thirsty Pagan Brewing hosted the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's Vice President of Entrepreneurship Aaron Hagar. 

"Craft brewing is a very important industry in Wisconsin. As we've seen, the number of breweries has more than double in the last 10 years," Hagar said. 

The WEDC gave the Thirsty Pagan almost $150,000 to help them invest in a new taproom and restaurant in the old Winter Street Depot. 

"We've hired probably about 12-15 people," Thirsty Pagan owner Steve Knauss said. "We're putting money in their pockets. Everybody lives right here in Superior, they live in Duluth, they're getting paid really well." 

Knauss said the brewery's expansion wouldn't be possible without the WEDC grant. 

"Our sales are up, our production for beer is up," he said. "We're rocking it out."

Hagar said local craft breweries give people a sense of place.

"These are really starting to be central pillars of the community. It's a place where people come together, they have meetings," Hagar said. "It's a place to celebrate, it's a place to be entertained." 

Knauss said that is happening at the Thirsty Pagan, especially because they don't have TVs or WiFi. 

"Craft breweries are all about entrepreneurship, they're all about investing in a community," Knauss said. "The beer, the food, the culture, is about neighborhoods, it's about knowing who your neighbor is and coming here, sitting down and enjoying being in an environment that is social."

As of 2017, the Brewers Association said there were 160 craft breweries in Wisconsin, generating $2.25 billion in economic impact.


Baihly Warfield

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