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Capital Brewery

Capital Brewery

7734 Terrace Ave. Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 836-7100
First Visited: December 26, 2017

Capital Brewery, located in Middleton, Wisconsin, has a rich and fascinating history that spans several decades. Since its establishment in 1984, the brewery has played a significant role in shaping the craft beer scene in the state and beyond. From humble beginnings to becoming a well-known name in the industry, Capital Brewery’s journey is a testament to the passion, perseverance, and innovation of its founders and staff.

The story of Capital Brewery begins with its visionary founder, Ed Janus. In the early 1980s, Janus, a homebrewer and beer enthusiast, saw an opportunity to bring the craft beer revolution to Wisconsin. Inspired by the thriving craft beer scenes in other parts of the country, Janus set out to create a brewery that would produce high-quality, traditional European-style beers.

In 1984, Janus founded Capital Brewery in the town of Middleton, a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin, in a former egg processing plant. The location was chosen for its proximity to the state capital and the vibrant beer culture in the area. With a small team of dedicated individuals, Janus embarked on a mission to brew exceptional beers that would capture the essence of European brewing traditions.

In 1986, Capital Brewery released its first two beers, Special Pilsner and Munich Dark. These beers were well-received by the public, and they helped to establish Capital Brewery as a premier craft brewery in Wisconsin.

During its early years, Capital Brewery faced numerous challenges. The craft beer industry was still in its infancy, and convincing consumers to embrace local, artisanal brews was not an easy task. However, Janus and his team persevered, focusing on quality, consistency, and innovation. They began by brewing a few flagship beers, including the highly popular Capital Amber and the award-winning Capital Munich Dark.

As word spread about the unique flavors and craftsmanship of Capital Brewery’s beers, the demand started to grow. The brewery expanded its production capacity, upgraded its equipment, and hired more staff to keep up with the increasing orders. Capital Brewery’s commitment to brewing authentic, handcrafted beers earned them a loyal following and numerous accolades in regional and national beer competitions.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Capital Brewery faced a turning point in its history. The craft beer movement was gaining momentum across the country, and consumers were becoming more adventurous in their beer choices. Sensing the shift in consumer preferences, Janus and his team decided to expand their range of offerings and experiment with new beer styles.

Capital Brewery introduced several seasonal and specialty beers, including the popular Maibock and the Oktoberfest, which became highly anticipated annual releases. The brewery also embraced the emerging trend of fruit-infused beers, creating refreshing and flavorful options like the Capital Wisconsin Amber Cherry. These innovative and diverse offerings helped Capital Brewery solidify its position as a pioneer in the craft beer scene in Wisconsin.

In addition to its commitment to brewing exceptional beers, Capital Brewery also prioritized community involvement and sustainability. The brewery became an active participant in local events and festivals, fostering a sense of camaraderie and pride among beer enthusiasts in Middleton and beyond. Capital Brewery also implemented eco-friendly practices, such as water conservation, recycling, and using energy-efficient equipment, to minimize its environmental footprint.

Since moving into its current building in 1985, Capital Brewery has continuously implemented environmentally conscious features and processes. One notable improvement was upgrading the refrigeration system. Previously, the system relied on water cooling, but the brewery transitioned to a more efficient glycol-based air-cooling approach.

Furthermore, Capital Brewery replaced its aging boiler, which had faithfully served the brewery since its first beer was produced in 1986, with a new boiler that utilizes natural gas. This upgrade significantly enhances steam production efficiency.

In April 2014, the brewery installed solar electric panels, harnessing renewable energy to power its operations. Additionally, Capital Brewery ensures that its spent grain is repurposed by providing it to a local farmer for cattle feed, reducing waste and promoting a circular economy.

In terms of production efficiency, the brewery invested in a new kegging machine that not only doubles its capacity but also reduces beer loss, resulting in substantial cost savings. Moreover, the machine generates gallons of recovered waste water, which Capital Brewery repurposes for washing used kegs, further minimizing water waste.

Capital Brewery has also made improvements to its brewing process, leading to both environmental and production gains. Through these changes, the brewery has been able to reduce the water consumption per pint of beer brewed. For example, their celebrated Wisconsin lager can now be brewed using seven pints of water, compared to the previous requirement of 12 pints per pint of beer. This improvement reflects Capital Brewery’s commitment to continuously enhance its environmental stewardship while maintaining the quality and excellence of its brews.

The brewery is also actively involved in promoting a greener and healthier lifestyle. In 2009, the Capital Brewery Bike Club was formed, attracting a community of over 100 riders who gather at the brewery every Tuesday and Thursday, weather permitting. This initiative encourages alternative transportation and fosters a sense of camaraderie among participants.

Throughout the 2000s, Capital Brewery continued to thrive and expand its reach. Its beers became widely available in bars, restaurants, and liquor stores across Wisconsin and neighboring states.

One of the highlights of Capital Brewery is its renowned Bier Garten, which is open from April through October. This outdoor space, affectionately known as “Middleton’s Backyard,” offers a vibrant atmosphere where patrons can enjoy Capital Brewery’s beers while basking in the pleasant weather. The Bier Garten often hosts live music performances and serves as a venue for various public and private events. On Fridays, from May to September, it attracts a bustling crowd of over 1500 patrons. In 2016, a Beer Patio was added along Terrace Ave, providing additional seating and enhancing the overall experience for visitors.

In recent years, Capital Brewery has remained at the forefront of the craft beer movement by adapting to changing consumer tastes and embracing new brewing techniques. The brewery has experimented with barrel-aged beers, sour ales, and collaborations with other breweries, further pushing the boundaries of creativity and flavor. Despite the evolving landscape of the craft beer industry, Capital Brewery has stayed true to its roots, consistently delivering well-crafted, traditional beers that satisfy both the seasoned beer connoisseur and the casual drinker.

At Capital Brewery we know that no matter how good our product is, we can always make it better. When it comes to sustainability, our philosophy in business dovetails nicely with our commitment to the environment: do what’s right. Seek out every improvement. For the customer. The community. The world around us. Even the bottom line. In fact, the green choice, we’re constantly discovering, is often the best choice. It’s another step forward, a continuation of our love for Wisconsin’s heritage. We want to help preserve the state’s pristine environment.

Beers Tried

Mutiny IPA

IPA – American

6.2% ABV

70 IBU

Rating: 3.41

Capital’s first India Pale Ale has a bright amber hue with an upfront florally citrus hop aroma. Mutiny packs a punch yet remains remarkably drinkable. It’s time for a MUTINY from one of Wisconsin’s largest independent craft breweries.


Bock – Hell / Maibock / Lentebock

6.2% ABV

25 IBU

Rating: 3.57

Our Spring seasonal is a deep golden lager with a flavorful but smooth malt presence. When you see our Maibock hit the shelves you know things are about to get better…including the weather!

Special Pilsner

Pilsner – German

4.7% ABV

32 IBU

Rating: 3.43

A German-style pilsner brewed with malts and hops imported from Europe. The slight sweetness of Pilsner malt is perfectly balanced by the clean, dry bittnerness of noble hops. On of our original Garten Brau beers, Special Pilsner has truly stood the test of time.

Wisconsin Amber®

Lager – American Amber / Red

5.2% ABV

28 IBU

Rating: 3.50

This rich Amber lager is the perfect balance of roasted caramel malts and clean hops flavors, making it a perfect choice for any occasion.

Fishin' In The Dark


7.5% ABV

25 IBU

Rating: 3.62

While black in color, this Schwarzbier is light in body with a crisp refreshing flavor. It is a darker nod to a traditional pilsner, brewed with local Wisconsin grown malts and hops.

Supper Club®

Lager – American

5.2% ABV

28 IBU

Rating: 3.27

Harking back to an era where Supper Clubs were In Vogue. You know, back when these types of beers exhibited regional soul. Supper Club is a classic Wisconsin lager sporting an American malt profile. Moderate mouth feel, mild bittering and superb drinkability.

Winter Skål

Lager – Vienna

5.8% ABV

30 IBU

Rating: 3.49

A full bodied beer with a warm amber hue showing off its rich malt heritage. Mildly bitter featuring a hop presence that compliments and rounds out the hop overtones.

Autumnal Fire

Bock – Doppelbock

7.8% ABV

28 IBU

Rating: 3.69

Alluring and intriguing, a legendary doppelbock with malt complexities hinting at dark fruit and mysterious sugars. Brandy Snifter time!

Dark Doppelbock

Bock – Doppelbock

7.8% ABV

25 IBU

Rating: 3.73

With the history of doppelbocks dating back to monks in the 1600s, our Dark Doppelbock pays tribute with an assortment of smooth toasted malt flavors brewed for a rich brown-colored, full flavor experience. Perfect to toast the end of Fall or warm up a cold Winter night.



5.5% ABV

24 IBU

Rating: 3.55

The mother of all seasonal beers has a fiery amber hue with rich malty overtones that dominate the flavor.

Munich Dark

Lager – Munich Dunkel

5.4% ABV

28 IBU

Rating: 3.57

Styled after a traditional European Dunkel lager with dark caramel malt flavor with a smooth dry finish. One of our original Garten Brau beers, Capital Dark is our most award winning beer and remains an all-time favorite!

Brown Ale

Brown Ale – English

5% ABV

12 IBU

Rating: 3.72

Capital Brown Ale uses English caramel malt to create a malt flavor completely unique from the usual Capital lineup. A smooth, creamy body gives off hints of vanilla with a wonderfully pleasant, nutty finish.

Island Wheat

Wheat Beer – American Pale Wheat

4.2% ABV

14 IBU

Rating: 3.35

An American wheat style beer, meaning a beer with a mild and approachable personality. The wheat from Wisconsin’s Washington Island provides the silky smooth finish.

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