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TOWN OF WESTPORT — When the Madison Plan Commission approved a plan this week for the Parched Eagle Brewpub to open a tasting room on East Washington Avenue, the announcement created a significant buzz for the city’s craft beer crowd.

The 676-square-foot spot will be located on one of the city’s fastest-developing corridors, sit a half-block from the Yahara River and serve as a beacon to passing motorists on the busy thoroughfare. The second location for the 2-year-old brewpub is not a luxury.

Instead, the Parched Eagle Taproom, designed to increase visibility and expand the Parched Eagle brand, is essential for the survival of the brewery that since April 2015 has been tucked away in a strip mall with a challenging entrance along Highway M on the northwest side of Lake Mendota.

“We have our moments here, but not enough,” said Jim Goronson, 51, the Parched Eagle’s founder and brewmaster. “Customers tell me that we’re a hidden gem, but for us to survive, we need to be less hidden. That’s why we’re doing this.”

The brewpub in the town of Westport will remain open but shrink in size to just the bar area and the small brewery room where Goronson has a one-barrel brewhouse and a 2.5-barrel fermentation tank that he will continue to use for special and experimental batches of beer.

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Goronson’s more popular beers will be brewed on contract by Page Buchanan at House of Brews, 4539 Helgesen Drive. Goronson, a homebrewer for more than 20 years who was tutored by Buchanan, brewed about 100 barrels of beer in 2016. Goronson believes that total could easily triple in the next few years.

The tasting room, scheduled to open at 1444 E. Washington Ave. on May 5 during Madison Craft Beer Week, is in the same building that houses the Art In gallery. The art center has a live music venue and a gallery bar, Maria’s, that will serve cocktails and Pabst Blue Ribbon “for the hipsters,” Goronson said.

The Madison tasting room will not serve hard alcohol or wine, have a capacity of 49 people, 12 tap lines, a cooler in the basement, and will serve only beer from Wisconsin brewers. Food carts will make regular visits to the location, said Goronson, who first presented the plan to the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association in November.

This week, Goronson and his business partner, Tom Christie, brought on about 12 investors to help fund the $38,000 Madison project without going into debt. Christie came up the idea for a Madison tasting room last summer, and Jack Chandler, the landlord of the new space who also tends bar at Parched Eagle, offered up space in his building before Goronson and Christie even had a chance to begin looking for locations.

“It’s a multi-venue building and it’ll increase our brand immeasurably,” Goronson said. “It’s essential for us to move our brand forward in a very positive way and for the Parched Eagle to truly take flight and prosper.”

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Send retail-related tips and story ideas to badams@madison.com or call Barry Adams at 608-252-6148.

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