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Octopi Brewing

Waunakee, WI


Crusin’ Rating: C

Booze Rating: A

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Octopi Brewing- Exterior

So, we know that our last two articles have been a bit of a downer. This week, we are trying to turn that frown upside down by visiting Octopi Brewing in Waunakee, WI. Billing themselves as the only Waunakee in the world, Waunakee is just 20 minutes northwest of Madison. Waunkee is home to Lone Girl Brewing Company and Drumlin Ridge Winery and, of course, Octopi Brewing. Octopi is a little different than the other breweries we've reviewed because, not only do they brew their own beer under the Octopi name, but they also support many start up breweries and other creators who rent out space, none more well-known than Untitled Art Brewing. I had actually become familiar with Untitled Art before I even realized Octopi was a brewery and the space that Untitled Art worked out of. Indeed, the relationship is so close that only one of the beers we had a chance to review was made in-house by Octopi. The rest are made by Untitled Art.

The Octopi space is HUGE. I’m talking more than 300,000 sq. ft. of production space in the works. While that is a massive space, the taproom itself, and outdoor space are fairly standard. Long brown tables serve as communal seating inside with some art adorning the walls. My guesstimate would be around 30 people could find seating inside with another 50 outside at various small tables and picnic tables there. They also have a ton of green space outside so bring your blanket to make your own picnic in the lawn. We, arriving on a Friday evening, had apparently picked THE spot for families to hang out. No exaggeration, we were the only group not sporting an infant or toddler both inside and outside. I don’t know if it was some sort of parents night or it’s just a common spot to go, but if you aren’t a fan of kids at breweries then you’ll need to go elsewhere. While Octopi does serve food, they have a limited menu and I wouldn’t call them a brewpub at all and they definitely don’t have the seating space that Lone Girl Brewing does (also in Waunakee). It was just an odd coincidence to see so many families at a brewery.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Octopi Brewing- Production Space

In past trips to Octopi we had the space pegged as a spot for hard-core beer nerds and a strictly a millennial hangout, with beer flights (no longer available) and only a food truck to sustain those spending a lot of time there. COVID changed a lot and now, based on this past trip I would say that the taproom is moving closer to a community spot where families gather, have some in-house fried fish, and have little picnics outside. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with bringing your child to a brewery, we don’t usually head out to breweries because we are looking for a similar vibe to a city park.

While we don’t want to focus too much on the food, it’s quite apparent that we should have opted for elsewhere for some fish on a Friday night. While mine dripped with oil, Hannah’s was closer to fish jerky and at 16-19 dollars a serving, plus the fact that each beer sample was 3-4 dollars per 7 oz., we were looking at a somewhat significant bill for a casual stop in on a Friday evening.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Octopi Brewing- Beer Samples

Why the flights were done away with, I can only guess is a holdover from COVID. So, we opted for four samples each running $3-4 bucks which is higher than our average of $2.50. There was only one Octopi brew available, with the rest coming from Untitled Art.

Octo Pils (5.0% ABV) - This Pilsner sported high clarity and was warm yellow in color. High hop bitterness took front and center while tasting this beer and there was a clean fermentation profile, crisp finish and a bitter aftertaste. This pils sported pretty high carbonation (as it should) and was a straightforward example of the style. I thought the aroma was pretty lacking - as opposed to some malt sweetness or any hoppy notes which was the only thing keeping this from what I would consider a textbook example of the style. A no frills, solid offering from Octopi in this category.

Pineapple Dragonfruit Soursop Imperial Seltzer (9.0% ABV) - One thing that Untitled Art does is give you quite a mouthful when naming their brews. On the whole, Untitled Art and our previously reviewed Humble Forager Brewery make some of the best, if not the best, seltzers currently in the state that we’ve tried. This seltzer was the color of raw Coho Salmon and as opaque as a smoothie. I smelled subtle hints of dragonfruit, pineapple, kiwi, mango, and guava. This had a heavy, thick mouthfeel and was very sweet with those fruit sugars. At points it was almost creamy like a smoothie with little to no carbonation detectable. The dragonfruit, admittedly not a strong flavor, is lost in here and that soursop definitely comes through as similar to pineapple with a little guava in the finish. On the whole this tasted probably the closet to a tropical smoothie as an beverage we have tried and puts many other so-called smoothie IPAs to shame in terms of smoothie-ness. Definitely try this one!

Watermelon Mango Papaya Smoothie Seltzer (5.0% ABV) - On the complete opposite side of the coin, this seltzer really missed the mark, smelling of the air after you dump a bunch of dry cat litter into the box mixed with the food you forgot in the garbage disposal. This seltzer was again totally opaque and the color of papaya juice but unfortunately tasted very close to how it smelled. Cat-litter dust that moved to sickly sweet papaya and mango but ended up being quite awful. Neither the Artist, Hannah, or I could bring ourselves to finish this one.

Tiramisu Stout (8.0% ABV) - Back on track, this dark, dark brown stout smelled of espresso-soaked ladyfingers, cinnamon cream, sweet cake batter and coffee grounds. It tasted of a light and fluffy marshmallow creme with notes of espresso, dark chocolate and an almost light and fluffy mouthfeel. There was not much to say about this one, it was not overly sweet, and didn’t have that artificial flavor that some other dessert stouts can exhibit. This was a fantastic dessert stout and so nice, I ordered one twice.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Octopi Brewing- Outdoor Space

So, in sum, skip the food and be prepared for a busy space if you’re going out to Octopi. But, in reality, Octopi probably makes much of its money from its commercial space and renting/leasing out that space to beer startups of other independent producers. Although it’s so very close to Madison I’m actually going to fully suggest not going here. The reasoning is simple. Untitled Art really takes the spotlight in terms of beer at Octopi and it’s gaining more and more distribution area - Madison, Milwaukee, hell, I’ve even seen some in Burlington - so there’s really no good reason to head out to Octopi when you can simply go to a Woodman’s, Total Wine, specialty grocer, or even some liquor stores to pick up their six packs. To the best of our knowledge, their is no exclusive, taproom only offerings from Untitled Art. If you can support your local store and ask they order some in or buy what they have, we see that as an absolute win, even more so if it’s a local spot owned by someone in your town. I might even go so far as to skip Octopi if you’re in Waunakee already, unless you’re really dying to see just how big it is. It’s most likely going to be packed, and while the Octopi beer we tried was a solid beer, it’s not worth dealing going to the tasting room. Octopi will get their rent money either way. Skip the line, go buy some Untitled Art and whatever food you’re craving and bring it back for a sit on the patio or a board game night with friends. You’ll get some great beer and avoid the crowds.

Until next time, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.

To learn more about Octopi Brewing please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @OctopiBrew or on Instagram: @DrinkOctopi

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