Ale Asylum

Ale Asylum is seeking city approval for a new brewery and restaurant off International Lane on Madison's northeast side.

The seemingly unquenchable thirst for craft beer is driving plans for a new $5 million brewery and tap room for the Ale Asylum.

The makers of Hopalicious and other styles of full-flavored ales and lagers are seeking city approval for a 46,000-square-foot building at 2102 Pankratz St., just west of the airport off International Lane. Plans include a 36,000-square-foot warehouse along with a restaurant and rooftop patio.

The brewery currently has about 20 employees but expects to grow to 40 or 50 employees over the next two years. Plans include 208 surface parking spaces. Solar hot water panels would be incorporated on the roof.

Plans also call for a "Fill Room" to provide visitors with a glimpse of the bottle filling process.

"We're pretty excited about having one of the hottest and fastest-growing breweries in the state right in our backyard," said north side Ald. Larry Palm.

The project is before the city Urban Design Commission at its meeting Wednesday.

The facility would be built and owned by a DeForest-based group headed by developer John Schaefer and rented back to the brewery. Land under the building would be leased from the Dane County Regional Airport.

Ale Asylum is currently located in a 10,000-square-foot facility at 3698 Kinsman Road near the MATC campus. The company hopes to have its new building operating by summer 2012.

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Ale Asylum has been looking to expand and at one point considered city-owned space that formerly housed the Don Miller auto sales lot on the 800 block of East Washington Avenue. But developer Schaefer says the site nearer the airport offers the advantages of more room for further expansion.

"I don't see this as the end of their growth," he said. "They've got a great story going."

Ale Asylum was started in 2006 by several former employees at the now closed Angelic Brewing Co. Production has increased from 850 barrels in 2006 to 7,400 barrels in 2010. The brewer expects to pass 25,000 barrels by 2012.

By comparison, the New Glarus Brewing Co. produced 92,000 barrels last year. It opened a $21 million brewery in 2007.