In 2002, the Joseph Huber Brewing Co. in Monroe was brewing 40,000 barrels of beer a year. It brewed one day a week, employed 30 people and its future was in doubt.
Today, the brewery, renamed Minhas Craft Brewery, provides jobs for 60 people, brews around the clock and in 2010 made 250,000 barrels of beer, matching the highest annual volume ever produced at the 166-year-old brewery.
This year, it could top 300,000 barrels.
The growth is the result of Ravinder Minhas, who was just 24 years old when he bought the company in 2006.
Minhas, from Calgary, Alberta, began using the brewery in 2002 to make his beer that he sold primarily in Canada. The company makes Mountain Crest and Boxer, economy beers, but also brews for other companies such as Berghoff and Dixie.
Millions of dollars have been spent to upgrade the facility and increase production. Most recently, two 800-barrel fermenters were added last summer at a cost of $500,000, said Gary Olson, president of the brewery. An additional $100,000 was spent to convert a 1,000-barrel storage tank to a fermenting tank. A $750,000 project to upgrade the brewery's filtering system is almost completed.
"It's pretty healthy here in Green County," said Olson, referring to New Glarus Brewing. "We're the new Milwaukee and we're both growing year to year. It's really kind of fun."