Karben4 Brewing opens in former Ale Asylum

Karben4’s Ryan Koga mashing in the first brew. Photo by Karben4 Brewing via their Facebook page.

What’s become of the original Ale Asylum location, now that the brewery has moved into new digs? As Linda Falkenstein reported for Isthmus back in June,

Karben4 Brewing has filed documents with the city to establish a brewing/taproom operation similar to what Ale Asylum has. The trio behind Karben4 are Alex Evans and Zak Koga, both of Madison, and the brewmaster Ryan Koga, currently of Yellowstone Valley Brewing in Billings, Mont.

The company got city approvals for its permit application back in August. Barry Adams reported in the Wisconsin State Journal in September that “the $600,000 brewery is scheduled to begin production by the end of the year and make about 1,000 barrels of beer in its first year.”

More recently, Robin Shepard provided an in-depth profile of the brewery earlier this week in Isthmus. As he noted there,

They plan a soft opening for their taproom the weekend after Christmas, with a grand opening in January.

Ryan, 31, Zak, 27, and Evans, 28, are friends from high school. Ryan takes care of the brewing while Zak and Alex handle overall operations and marketing. All of the Karben4 partners were directly involved in much of the renovations to the building, and were up nearly all night last Saturday as they readied the brewery for its first batch.

Karben4’s first brew is a porter they’re naming NightCall. Ryan Koga is hoping to have at least three beers ready by the last weekend in December, and as many as six after the first of the year. There will be standard beers and a range of rotating styles.

For all the details — including how the brewery came to be and how the first night of brewing went — check out Shepard’s full piece here. Then, head to Karben4’s Facebook page for updates and photos, and check out their Twitter feed.

UPDATED January 4, 2013: Karben4 is now open for business, and as a result the new kid on the block is getting more attention in the local press. Chris Drosner, Wisconsin State Journal‘s “Beer Baron,” just posted a story on Karben4 that includes his review of the inaugural NightCall. As he writes,

OK, confession time. I can’t stand smoked beers. I keep trying them, but for whatever reason, that flavor is just nails on a chalkboard to my palate. [Hear, hear, I say!] That said, I loved NightCall. Koga uses beechwood-smoked malt, which makes the smoke character a light accent instead of the featured flavor. It’s enough to add an interesting twist for hard-core beer fans while keeping it drinkable and accessible to craft beer novices. It helps that the underlying beer is an excellent porter: soft and smooth, focused on the sweet malts with the chocolate and coffee notes common to the best of the style.

For Drosner’s full article, which includes details on when we can expect to see additional Karben4 beers on tap and in bottles, head here.


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