The World Doesn’t Need “Fermentus Interruptus.”

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March 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Tom Keith

(second in a series on beer destinations in the Madison region)

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At Granite City Brewpubs, they call their method of producing beer “Fermentus Interruptus.” It’s a bad idea, but apparently a profitable one. They’ve made a mini-empire from it. There are Granite City brewpubs throughout the Midwest, from North Dakota and Kansas to Ohio.

But it’s surprising to see a Granite City brewpub in a suburban-looking Madison, Wisconsin shopping mall. Madison is a fairly beer-savvy town. Some of the country’s greatest craft breweries – like New Glarus, Stevens Point, Capital and Ale Asylum – are within an hour’s drive. Still, Granite City appears to thrive.

Fermentus Interruptus means that Granite City mashes all its beers at a plant in Iowa, freezes the raw wort, then ships it to each of their 26 breweries. There, it’s defrosted and yeast is added … so technically, the beer is brewed on premise. But it’s not like there’s a brewmaster at each location deciding which malts, hops and yeasts are going into every brew they pump out.

It’s the equivalent of kit brewing, only using frozen wort rather than a concentrated wort syrup extract. (Kit brewing is basically emptying a can of concentrated, often hopped, syrup into water, boiling it, chilling it, adding a packet of dry yeast, and then generously patting yourself on the back for “actually having brewed beer.” No serious craft brewer does it that way.)

Based on my experience in West Madison, it’s really a sports bar – it’s not trying very hard to be a beer bar. I imagine it could do nearly as well without the brewed-on-premises gimmick.

But I sampled their beers, so you don’t have to.

Do I really need to drag you though the predictable, drinkable, but remarkably unremarkable beers that Granite City serves up? Does the world really need another brewpub that just phones it in?

Granite City Food & Brewpub

72 West Towne Mall
Madison, WI 53719

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2 Comments

  1. John W says:

    Obviously you can write what you want, but why such an attack on something so innocuous? I don’t expect a food critic to review a Chili’s just because they put ‘gourmet’ on their menu somewhere.

    Just seems like a lot of negativity and wasted energy when you could have been finding something fun to write about.

  2. Sharon Ferguson says:

    I don’t have a problem with the article. If you have read any of Tom Keith’s past articles, he often writes about his road trips to small and sometimes larger breweries. This is just one more of his many trips he is reporting about.

    I looked up the website for Granite City and they promote themselves as an on-site brewery. In addition, they state several decades of experience in the beer industry. This was probably one of the reasons Mr. Keith made a stop at Granite City. Plus the “Fermentus Interruptus” technique of beer making was something new to investigate. He unfortunately didn’t like the end product of this brewery and has reported on it.

    I appreciate that he is informing the public of what his findings are and doesn’t hold back on his opinions. He also assumes the general public is smart enough to decide for themselves what they like an don’t like. He is only giving his opinion. I don’t think he has to write all positive and fun opinions/articles. If you only want something fun to read you might be best suited for People magazine or some other fluff publication to get the fun, warm fuzzy feelings you are looking for.

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