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Monday, April 7, 2014

Wisconsin's Crowd-Sourced Brewery

How social media inspired MobCraft Beer

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To stand out in the crowded craft beer market these days, you need a solid hook to attract people to your brand. Madison-based MobCraft Beer has developed a unique draw that has earned them a lot of attention from beer aficionados, as well as a Best New Brewer award from ratebeer.com. So, what makes them special? MobCraft makes “crowd-sourced” beer. An interesting blend of modern technology and traditional craftsmanship, they use social media to get ideas and then brew up what is most popular.

The founders, Henry Schwartz, Giotto Troia and Andrew Gierczak, met while in college. They had grand ideas about opening a brewpub someday, but realized after graduation that it was pretty cost prohibitive to start such an enterprise. Ultimately, they found that starting small and using technology to their advantage was more manageable. MobCraft began brewing in June 2013, and currently shares a taproom with House of Brews, another Madison brewer. They hope to expand in the future and move into their own space.

So, here’s how it works: MobCraft solicits their social media followers for beer suggestions. They watch closely to see which beers are getting the most attention online. Each month “voting” commences on their website for the four beer ideas with the top views/mentions by way of number of orders placed for each variety. When the voting period is over, MobCraft puts whichever beer had the most orders into production. As you can imagine this process has lead to a fair amount of creativity with flavors and ingredients. The Mayan Chocolate Chili Ale, a previous winner, included flavors from roasted cacao beans and spicy ghost peppers.

On April 5, MobCraft hosted a Madison launch party for the seventh crowd-sourced beer winner, Rabbit’s Bounty, a Carrot Cake Ale that’ll be fun for springtime. This caramel-colored ale features notes of honey, carrot, walnut and brown sugar. Be careful, it packs a walloping 9.5% ABV! You can still pre-order this one online, but it’s only available for pick-up.March’s winner, a spiced barley wine called Arabian Date Night will be flavored with dates and vanilla. It’s going to be a bit of a wait to sample this one though, as it’s being aged for four months in brandy barrels. If you order at MobCraft’s website, your order will be shipped as soon as it’s done—or just pick it up at the taproom.

If you are looking to try some of the previous MobCraft offerings without the drive to Madison, there are some local outlets for the creative brews. The Riverwest Filling Station and Uber Tap Room both offer MobCraft on tap. Discount Liquor (both locations) and the Consumer Beverage Outlet in Hales Corners sell individual 22-ounce bottles.

For more information or to order from MobCraft, visit mobcraftbeer.com.