Otto Dilba and co-owner/brewmaster Dean Coffey, met while working together at the Angelic brewpub in downtown Madison and started Ale Asylum with some of its former equipment when Angelic jettisoned brewing to focus on being a campus-area bar. Originally located in a strip mall, Ale Asylum occupied 8,000 square feet that housed a 13-barrel brew house, bottling line, cold/dry storage and a tasting room, located in an industrial park near the airport. Dean took the reins as brewmaster and Otto took over the business side. In the first year of production, 837 barrels were cranked out. In 2011, 10,116 barrels were produced.
In September of 2012, Ale Asylum moved into its much larger current location, a 45,000-square-foot brewery and tasting room, just a mile down the road. The expansion provided them five times the brewing space and four and a half times the production capacity. The new facility positioned Ale Asylum to move from sixth in size among Wisconsin
’s craft breweries to among the top three-behind Wisconsin
craft brewers New Glarus Brewing and Stevens Point Brewery.
The new facility has a new five-vessel brewing system, increasing the brewing capacity to 33 barrels at a time. (A barrel is approximately 31 gallons.) Ale Asylum also purchased a much faster bottling line, a system that once packaged bottles at Sweet Water
Brewing in Atlanta. Just the bottling and packaging area of the new brewery occupies about 8,000 square feet, equal to what everything fit into at the Kinsman Boulevard location. At full speed it turns out 277 bottles a minute, four times more than the old system. The bottling line allows for both 12- and 22-ounce bottles. There is also be enough brewery space to eventually hold over 40 fermenters.
A big part of Ale Asylum’s showier profile is its new tasting room. It’s done up in the brand’s familiar orange and black, with cherry wood and stone accents along the main bar and walls. The work of an area graffiti artist will be featured on a wall in the main tasting room. Among the most impressive new features are two outdoor patios that can seat over 150. An upper deck overlooks the main patio and Packers Avenue. Inside, two bars that support 20 tap lines each mean less waiting for a pint in the tasting room.