For more than three years, Garth Beyer has been doing his homework for Garth’s Brew Bar, set to open in new construction at 1726 Monroe St. this fall.
Beyer, a 26-year-old Rockford, Illinois native, studied for a Cicerone certification, getting an education in craft beer. He took a list of America’s best beer bars and emailed everyone on it, talking to 30 or so industry professionals about best practices.
Beyer even crafted a 15-minute online survey and recruited people from Madison-area beer groups on Facebook. He asked what they wanted in a bar, how far they’d travel. He got nearly 200 participants.
The result of all of this research will be a 2,150 square-foot space, aesthetically inspired by the woods and shores of Door County. His lease officially starts Nov. 1, but Beyer would love to be open by October to “catch a few game days.” He estimates there will be room for about 80 people inside with a short bar (nine seats), located just across the street from Orange Tree Imports.
Garth’s Brew Bar plans to serve a little bit of simple food, like soft pretzels and frozen pizzas. The focus will be on the beer, American craft only, on 18 taps. Beyer is aiming more for the families shopping at nearby Trader Joe’s and less at students before a game at Camp Randall.
“This isn’t a space for college kids to come and binge drink,” said Beyer, who’s working with building owner Urban Land Interests and architect Jacob Morrison to design the space. “The price is going to be higher, the atmosphere is going to be different.”
Beyer doesn’t discount interest from college students — in 2015, he wrote a beer column for the Badger Herald called What’s On Tap. But he’s sensitive to the neighborhood’s feedback.
“They care more about what this bar isn’t than what the bar is,” Beyer said. “They’re very concerned about Monroe Street turning into Regent Street.”
Beyer works as an account executive at the marketing agency Hiebing, where he’s on the public relations social media and content team. He plans to keep that job while opening the bar.
Working at Hiebing, he said, taught him “beauty in constraint.” Garth’s Brew Bar will keep its list very curated: American craft beer, all independent, no imports. He’s hoping to bring in limited edition or experimental beers from some brewers, offering them the chance for customer feedback.
Through his research, he’s narrowed down “who I want to work with ... to make this feel like a curated, story-driven product selection.”
Planned hours are currently 4-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday, Saturday from noon to midnight and Sunday evenings (still in discussion). On Mondays Garth’s would be closed.
On July 17, Garth’s Brew Bar is up for a Class B license for beer only at the Alcohol License Review Commission. Long term, Beyer might like to open a couple of brewpubs and then start a brewery, turning each bar into a satellite tap room. Or he could launch “the bar version of Food Fight (Restaurant Group)” with a different name. (“Calling it Bar Fight isn’t the greatest idea,” he joked).
“I’ll have the vibe of a coffee shop, bright lighting, open areas,” Beyer said. He wants the brew bar to be fairly quiet, with “a comfortable cozy corner with a couch, long tables for groups and smaller tables, like a game board setting.
“It’s the greatest thing in the world, not to have to remodel or make something work,” he said. “This is amazing.”