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Good Works Brewing Company

Milton, Wisconsin

 

Crusin’ Rating:  B-

Booze Rating:  C-

 

This week we are teaming up with a new guest reviewer, The Cartographer, to check out a brewery less than a year old and only a short drive out to Milton, Wisconsin.  Good Works Brewing Co. is a microbrewery and taproom located in downtown Milton bringing some much needed beer to a small community that has been strictly wine-dominated up until now.  If you want to check out the winery that we’ve been to in town, you can - Timber Hill Winery.  You know, this trip out here reminded us that the Timber Hill article needs an update on its new location!  But back to Good Works!  I always love seeing little towns around Wisconsin getting a brewery and especially so when that brewery’s stated mission is focusing on its community.  


When I looked up Good Works Brewing Co., you can see that their mission and a lot of their company values are influenced by their namesake, Good Works.  Now, I am all for a place that has a mission and values list stated, I think that’s wonderful - not quite the norm, but great.  I was a little bit confused on what good works are though and was further perplexed on how, as a brewery, this spot was going to inspire people to do good works.  I found myself pondering just how this was supposed to relate to the beers I was drinking.  I found a lot of that nice to read - without really learning too much on what this brewery was, how it was founded, or what exactly they were doing to support the community.


Slightly confusing language on the website aside, we met the Cartographer here, Barlow in tow, in the quiet downtown Milton on a chilly day.  Good Works has only been open since 2023 and honestly, it somehow flew under our radar so kudos to the Cartographer for being, in fact and unsurprisingly, good at knowing maps.  With a plate glass front on a street with businesses sharing walls side-by-side that is so familiar when visiting small-town Wisconsin, we walked into a veritable hubbub of a succulent-potting event going on at the brewery on an early Saturday afternoon.  Succulents of all shapes were being potted in beer mugs, dirt strewn across the floor, and laughter caught us by surprise - being busy right when you open for the day is usually a good sign.  



With plenty of natural light coming in and Barlow on a quest to greet every single individual in the space personally, we snagged a table that was free and took in the crowd.  I counted seating for about 67 people at a mixture of high tables that seat 8 each, a dozen bar seats, and some 4 seater low tables, plus a little couch and chairs in a lounge area facing a large shelf of board games.  The center of the space has a bar that’s shaped just like an “L” with the bar seating on the left and the taps behind the small “tail” of the “L”.  At the end of the bar, and after exploring, you see the collage of shiny new brew tanks in the back space, cut off by railing but in plain view.  As the Cartographer regaled us with tales of his day and the almost-obscene amount of Wisconsin traveling he had already completed I went up to order our flights.  Hannah and the Cartographer took stock of the space, and noted that it was clean, tidy, and had friendly staff.  What they did notice though, was that it was a little barren.  The Cartographer quipped that:

“It feels like a coffee shop.  Not necessarily bad, but like a coffee shop that you can hunker down and get some work done at”

I thought the space was fairly reminiscent of Gravity Box Brewing Company in Mauston, WI.  Hannah made an observation that we all agreed with - the space needed more decorations, even a large painted logo on one of the walls - since there was not a lot of branding going on inside and the walls felt a little austere.  We were all in agreement that the noise level was great, and those serving the beers were very friendly.



The Cartographer had already been to several cities around Southeastern Wisconsin before he met us and had at least four more to go.  He may very well be capable of hand-drawing a map of Wisconsin’s roads from memory.  He may be the only individual we know that might rival our own knowledge of Wisconsins’ cities and towns that we’ve met, which is saying something.


 As the Cartographer regaled us with tales of his day and the almost-obscene amount of Wisconsin traveling he had already completed, we snagged flights of 4 which ran $12.00 and had a range of ten beers (two were out when we visited).  While the brewery doesn’t serve food, a spot immediately next door has QR codes to scan if you feel peckish and they welcome carry-in food and non-alcoholic beverages.  We noticed a water cooler and the menu featured soda to order.



On to the beer, and we kept in mind that this is a fairly new brewery, so we tempered ourselves when tasting:


SapBack Blonde Ale (4.5% ABV, 27 IBUs) - With medium low clarity and honey gold in color, I thought this beer was slightly cloudy for the style.  We picked up grains and a lightly sweet almost bready note on the nose.   This beer was sweet up front, and had a softness to it that moved back into a low and easy sweetness and while I thought it strayed into medium hoppiness territory at the end and a little unbalanced with the malt Hannah and the Cartographer disagreed.  The Cartographer went so far as to suggest it was the least offensive blonde he has had in recent memory and Hannah thought it was fairly easy drinking.


Le Partenariat French Saison (6.2% ABV, 24 IBU) - This beer featured medium-high clarity and high carbonation, and lightly gold in color, all typical of the style.  I smelled some wet hay funk with a certain damp earthiness and a little bit of stone fruit.  While that was also typical of the style, I really thought that the flavor of this beer was lacking.  I was looking for some fruitiness, farmhouse funk, or graininess.  While the malt was correctly low profile and soft on the palate, there just wasn’t a lot of flavor there. While there was some bitterness in the finish - which can be appropriate in a paler saison- I really just didn’t find this a strong contender in the category.  The Cartographer said it would be easily mixed up with the Blonde Ale for someone newer to tasting.


A.F.T Hazy IPA v3 (6.3% ABV, 49 IBU) - This beer was cloudy and the color of a lemonade seltzer, just barely perceptibly the palest of yellows.  We picked up raw hop pellets and lemon oil when smelling.  This beer just smelled raw and bitter - the bitter parts of green herbs and pine needles, as if breaking them in half and shoving them in your nose.  Tasting this beer up front is a little gentle but bitter grapefruit and we noticed that there might be some residual sugar as this beer made the lip of the glass quite sticky and even left a certain tackiness on your lips.  Tasting much of the same, quite raw with herbalism and pine that it overwhelms your palate from tasting much else.  I think this beer could use a little more time cooking - perhaps literally and metaphorically.


Third Time’s the Charm Oatmeal Stout (5.6% ABV, 31 IBUs) - This beer poured dark chocolate brown and smelled of coffee up front.  All three of us independently got a sort of musty aroma when smelling with the Cartographer describing it as an old house.  I think it was sort of an off-roasted aroma we were all getting in actuality and I caught a hint of hazelnut.  When tasting, we each picked up a roasted coffee flavor but we all agreed we really missed out on that smooth creaminess that is usually associated with an oatmeal stout, not only in flavor, but also in the mouthfeel.  This one was not thick and creamy enough for our tastes.  We also thought the inclusion of the hops made this overly earthy in the finish with a distinct dirt bitterness independent of the bitterness associated with a strong coffee.  


I think Good Works Brewing Co. definitely has room to grow and I’m excited to see how they progress.  I don’t know if we’ve come across many breweries that have come out of the gate swinging and strong in their first year of business and you can’t really fault a spot for that.  There’s going to be a learning process and it’s clear they have gone through various iterations of beers as they look to bring the best brews to the customers.  I’m glad that, even in the descriptions of some beers, they’ve admitted it’s a process and that there have been failures along the way.  That’s a part of any growing business.  We make it out to Milton once or twice a year so we can restock the Crusin’ for Booze Bar with Jalapeño wine, so it will be an easy trip to stop over and see how Good Works Brewing Co. progresses.  While Milton may be small, there are definitely some growing spots to try out and, if you’re in Madison, maybe give them until summer of '24 and go out and give them a try, it’s a short enough drive.  I probably wouldn’t recommend a drive from more than an hour away, but who knows what the future holds!  


Until next time, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!


To learn more about Good Works Brewing Company please visit their website at: www.goodworksbrewingco.com or on Facebook: @GoodWorksBrewing or on Instagram: @GoodWorksBrewing

 

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