Madison brew pub builds community

By Ava Wojnowski

Sampling beers is a favorite activity for many in Wisconsin, but nobody is doing it quite like UW–Madison alumnus Garth Beyer. Garth’s Brew Bar brings in beers from all over the United States, so one is assured to have something of their liking when they come in. A fusion of flavors is at the forefront for Garth’s.  This beer hotspot, located on Monroe Street in Madison, offers a fusion of flavors for all to enjoy. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Garth Beyer is a UW–Madison graduate who he majored in journalism. He started a beer column when he worked for the school paper, the Badger Herald.

What inspired you to finally open Garth’s Brew Bar?

I was a beer writer and asked the question: What can I do to help these breweries thrive beyond just writing for them? I found the answer when I took a trip to Belgium and Budapest with a buddy of mine. There was a bar called Hops in Budapest. We go in there, the bar owner is there, he is behind the bar and they have like 150 different beers. [We] are talking to him in broken English, and he can tell you stories about the beer.

Then there was the space … it was multidimensional. There was the classic ‘at the bar’ seating, and then upstairs were some long tables for communal spots. There were some corners that felt more private, and it was just super dynamic. I was drinking beers with my buddy there and it was in that moment I said, “We need something like this in Madison.” 

What was it like opening Garth’s Brew Bar?

Insane. I’m a busy guy. I’ll give you a snapshot. I have a full-time job, I own this bar, I’m a husband, I have two daughters, and I still do freelance stuff. Also, speaking as a normal human, I like to take care of myself and workout and do fun stuff and be with friends and all that, too. There are 24 hours in a day right? That’s hard to do it all. I cannot do it alone, and I would not have opened Garth’s Brew Bar without a ton of support.

What has Garth’s Brew Bar been like post-pandemic?

Garth’s Brew Bar has always been like a testing zone for me. Let’s just try things. Sometimes it’s my idea. Sometimes it’s our team members’ ideas. Sometimes it’s the neighbors’ ideas.

What is the strangest beer you have ever had at Garth’s Brew Bar?

There was a local brewer that likes to stretch the limits of his abilities and he produced a curry beer … It was curry, it was spot on.

What has been your favorite beer that you have brought on?

I’ll give you two. One because it is top of mind, Tiny Bomb from Wiseacre. They are out of Tennessee. I love pilsners because this world has become so dynamic with them … Tiny Bomb, classic American pilsner. Super delicious and refreshing.

The other favorite beer of mine is called Hooey. It is brewed by Lupulin Brewing Company in Big Lake, Minnesota. It is the keg that we sold a half barrel of the fastest, too, so I’m not the only one who loves it. We kicked it in almost a day, which is a special situation given we’re only open a handful of hours. That one we pretty much bring back every couple of months.

What is your dream brewery you want to bring to Garth’s Brew Bar?

I’ve gotta go with Bierstadt out of Denver. They do remarkable lagers, it is what they are known for; it is the hub for breweries. If you are going to Denver, that is where brewers go to drink.

What is your dream beer flavor creation?
I have yet to find a mango IPA that I really love. I think that flavor profile is incredible, and most brewers either add too much or too little mango, and I want to make the one that people are like “This is the perfect balance of mango and classic hazy, tropical notes out of an IPA.” I don’t want it to be too fruit puree-forward and thick, but I don’t want it to feel so subtle that you might think that a drop of mango extract was added to it

If you could describe Garth’s Brew Bar in three words, what three words would you use?
Adventure, vibrant and remarkable.

What is in the future for Garth’s Brew Bar?
We are gonna push the limits of a beer brand. I think it is a sure thing in the next year, year and a half, that we will launch our own beverage brand. My name is on enough stuff, so we’re thinking of calling it “Marvin’s Brew,” [after the moose statue named Marvin in Garth’s Brew Bar] and it will be his style of beers that we will sell here and sell in other places. The whole idea of that isn’t to make money, it’s not to drive Garth’s Brew Bar name, but hopefully get people researching Marvin’s Brew. Then, they find out there is a cool craft beer bar in Madison, come to it, check it out and have a good time.

Visit Garth’s Brew Bar at 1726 Monroe St. in Madison