Gray Brewing Co.

Grey Brewing Co.

Gray Brewing Co.

2424 W Court St, Janesville, WI 53548
Phone: (608) 754-5150
First Visited: May 08, 2009

Gray Brewing Company, located in Janesville, Wisconsin, is a prominent and innovative craft brewery that has made a significant impact on the brewing industry since its inception. The origins of Gray Brewing Co. can be traced back to 1856 when J.C. Gray established a soda water factory in Janesville. The business was subsequently taken over by his son, C.C. Gray, in the late 1870s. By the early 20th century, the company had gained recognition for producing a range of temperance beverages such as ginger ale, soda water, champagne cider, and seltzer. However, historical records indicate limited evidence of the company’s involvement in brewing lager beer or ale during the 19th century.

Notably, there are no mentions of Gray Brewing Co. as a brewer in city directories or industry publications of that era. Furthermore, excise records, which documented taxes imposed on Weiss beer brewers, do not include any references to the company. Additionally, detailed Sanborn maps from 1895 to 1915, which provide insight into the infrastructure of businesses, do not indicate the presence of brewing equipment such as brew kettles.

While the historical evidence remains inconclusive, it is plausible that Gray Brewing Co. may have briefly engaged in the production of Weiss beer or possibly acted as a bottler for a local brewer during a specific period. However, the documentation from that time period does not provide substantial support for the notion that Gray Brewing Co. was primarily focused on brewing beer during the 19th century.

Over the course of multiple generations, the family enterprise underwent several name changes. Initially established as Gray Bottling Works, it later transitioned to Chas. C. Gray Beverages and subsequently became known as Gray’s Beverage Company before ultimately adopting its present-day name, Gray Brewing Company. In the late 1890s, the Gray family made the pivotal choice to discontinue their beer brewing operations and shift their focus exclusively towards producing soft drinks. This strategic decision was motivated by the burgeoning popularity of soft drink sales and the prevailing momentum of the temperance movement.

Initially situated at 52 Locust Street, Gray Brewing Company relocated to its current and second location on West Court Street in Janesville in 1959. The brewery initially specialized in the production artisanal soda, which are primarily distributed within the local community. Gray Brewing created a range of delightful sodas, including root beer, cream soda, strawberry soda, grape soda, orange cream soda, and the iconic Belfast Ginger Beer. Remaining true to Joshua Gray’s original vision, all of these products continue to be meticulously crafted using only the finest available ingredients.

Gray Brewing Co. entered a new chapter in its history in 1993, embracing the emerging trend of microbreweries and becoming one of Wisconsin’s pioneers in the craft beer movement. Unlike the traditional lagers that dominated the region, Gray Brewing Co. made a bold choice to focus on ales, paying homage to local traditions while carving out their unique identity. In their inaugural year, they sold just under 2,000 barrels of beer, a remarkable feat compared to their predecessor, J.C. Gray, in 1856. However, it was only a small fraction of the booming Wisconsin beer market at the time.

Over the following years, Gray Brewing Co. gained a loyal following for their English-style beers, particularly their renowned Oatmeal Stout. In 1997, when Wisconsin Brewing Co. faced devastating floods that impacted their operations, Gray Brewing Co. came to their aid by offering the use of their own brewing facility. This act of solidarity and camaraderie showcased the tight-knit nature of the brewing community in Wisconsin.

Gray Brewing Co. also proved to be an innovator in their marketing and packaging strategies. They were one of the first breweries in Wisconsin to introduce a sample pack, offering consumers a diverse selection of their beers in a convenient eight-pack format. This unique approach resonated with beer enthusiasts, further bolstering the brewery’s reputation.

In 1999, Gray Brewing Co. expanded their offerings to include lager styles, broadening their range of beer options for consumers. However, sales were somewhat inconsistent, with over 4,000 barrels sold in 2000 but slightly declining numbers in the subsequent years.

By 2004, Gray Brewing Co. had amassed a significant following and had the capacity to introduce seasonal beers into their lineup, particularly for the winter season. Their popularity extended beyond Wisconsin, as they began shipping their beer to Connecticut, while their sodas found their way to California and Oregon. This expansion into new markets solidified Gray Brewing Co.’s position as a reputable and sought-after brewery.

Not only did Gray Brewing Co. focus on their own brands, but they also ventured into contract brewing, collaborating with other beer companies such as Fauerbach Brewing Co. of Madison and Milwaukee Ale House. This diversification allowed them to showcase their brewing expertise while fostering collaborations within the brewing industry.

Gray Brewing Company takes immense pride in its commitment to brewing exceptional beers that cater to a wide range of tastes. From traditional lagers and ales to innovative seasonal offerings and specialty brews, the brewery’s portfolio is a testament to its dedication to quality and craftsmanship.

One of the brewery’s flagship beers is Gray’s Irish Style Red Ale, a rich and flavorful brew that pays homage to the traditional Irish brewing heritage. With its smooth malt backbone and balanced hop character, this beer has become a beloved favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Gray Brewing Company places great emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility. Recognizing the importance of conserving resources and reducing their carbon footprint, the brewery has implemented several initiatives to promote sustainability.

One such initiative is their focus on energy efficiency. Gray Brewing Company has invested in state-of-the-art brewing equipment and technology that minimizes energy consumption during the brewing process. Additionally, they have implemented recycling programs, waste reduction strategies, and water conservation measures to further reduce their environmental impact.

Furthermore, the brewery actively supports local farmers by sourcing ingredients from nearby farms, reducing the carbon emissions associated with transportation. This commitment to sustainability not only demonstrates Gray Brewing Company’s dedication to preserving the environment but also serves as an inspiration to other breweries and businesses.

Gray Brewing Company understands the importance of giving back to the community that has supported it throughout the years. The brewery actively participates in numerous charitable initiatives and community events, striving to make a positive impact. They regularly host fundraisers and donate a portion of their proceeds to local organizations and causes. By actively engaging with the community, Gray Brewing Company has become more than just a brewery; it has become a symbol of community support and unity.The brewery also takes pride in promoting local artists and musicians, hosting events that showcase their talent. This not only enhances the local arts and culture scene but also contributes to the overall vibrancy and vitality of the community.

Gray Brewing Company’s long-standing history, exceptional brews, commitment to sustainability, and contributions to the community have established it as a pioneer in craft brewing from Wisconsin. With its dedication to quality, innovation, and community engagement, the brewery continues to thrive and inspire others in the industry. Whether you’re a craft beer aficionado or simply seeking a remarkable brewing experience, Gray Brewing Company is undoubtedly a destination worth exploring.

The business is currently operated by fifth-generation Robert (Fred) Gray II and sixth-generation daughter Sarah. After being founded by Joshua C. Gray, ownership moved from generation to generation: Charles Gray to Charles Gray II and Margaret Gray to Robert Gray to Robert (Fred) Gray II. Today, Fred’s children, Sarah and Jacob Gray, have joined the business to give it a sixth generation to make it the nation’s oldest family owned bottling company.

Gray’s continues it’s tradition of producing the finest handcrafted beers, ales and sodas in its quaint brewery and bottling facility in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Beers Tried



7.6% ABV

Rating: 3.55

A classic Marzen style lager rich in flavor. The intense kilning deepens the Munich malty sweetness and gives it a reddish-copper color. Smooth with a toasty caramel and light hop character.

Bella Cosa

Pale Ale – Other

Rating: 3.37

Sicilian ale brewed solely for Genisa Italian Wine Bar in downtown Janesville, WI

Blain's Blend

Malt Beer

Rating: 3.00

A blend of Gray’s Honey Ale and Gray’s Rock Hard Red. Created exclusively for the annual Janesville Town Square Gran Prix (bicycle race) sponsored by Blain’s Farm & Fleet!  

Rock Hard Red

Flavored Malt Beverage

4.4% ABV

Rating: 3.08

Gray’s most unique malt beverage is perfect for those looking for something different. Rock Hard Red offers a unique berry flavor, not tart, complimented with a sweet aroma and no bitter after-taste.

Bower City Pale Ale

Pale Ale – American

4.2% ABV

Rating: 3.37

A slow brewed American Pale Ale with rich malt flavor and an abundance of Cascade hops. White grapefruit and spruce are especially prominent, making the beer juicy and bitter at the same time. A rich creamy head elevates the fruitful Cascade hops. Available: April-June

Blood Orange Radler

Shandy / Radler

3.6% ABV

12 IBU

Rating: 3.51

Created with an enticing blend of American wheat beer and natural blood orange juice. The combination of the distinct wheat beer and natural blood orange essence makes for a remarkably refreshing, crisp and flavorful brew. Best served over ice. 

Pumpkin Head

Pumpkin / Yam Beer

5.5% ABV

Rating: 3.47

Bitter Shenanigans

IPA – English

4% ABV

96 IBU

Rating: 3.23

A bitter India pale ale with English hops and American malts. Bold and perfectly balanced

Honey Ale

Honey Beer

4.78% ABV

12 IBU

Rating: 3.12

Wisconsin’s original honey beer, Gray’s Honey Ale is brewed using locally harvested honey and brewed in small batches to insure exacting flavor and freshness. The generous amount of honey is evident in the unique refreshing flavor and extraordinary aroma.

Wisco Wheat

Wheat Beer – American Pale Wheat

5.3% ABV

Rating: 3.24

This German style ale is a unique blend of Belgium malted wheat and domestic two-row barley. Sporting a slightly opaque, pale straw color, this beer is mildly hopped and has an attractive fruity aroma. Unfiltered, a glass of Wisco Wheat offers and appetizing, tall, white, creamy head. Smooth lemon and citrus flavors provide for a refreshing brew that can be enjoyed any time of the year. 

Rathskeller Amber Ale

Red Ale – American Amber / Red

5.5% ABV

Rating: 3.38

Bully Porter

Porter – American

4.95% ABV

Rating: 3.26

A classic British style brown porter that at one time was considered the beer of the working class. You will notice a ruby brown body with an aroma of malt and mild roastiness. This style differs from a robust porter in that it has a softer, sweeter and more caramelly flavor. Contains chocolate, nutty and toffee-like undertones with medium to low hop bitterness.

Tap Jockey

Stout – Irish Dry

5.5% ABV

Rating: 3.48

Irish Style Ale

Red Ale – Irish

5.8% ABV

Rating: 3.20

Brewed only in the spring, the Irish Style Ale is a special blend of four types of malted barley and three varieties of hops. This ale is characterized by its sweet malty flavor and refreshing light scent. The rich red color is very distinctive to the origins of this style of ale

Oatmeal Stout

Stout – Oatmeal

5.2% ABV

25 IBU

Rating: 3.46

Strong roasted flavor creamy texture dark beer. Fresh rolled oats paired with aromatic hops and richly roasted barley coffee like flavor. The 56 refers to the year 1856, and this oatmeal stout is a perfect steak beer and complements blackened seafood, steaks, or any other full flavored meat. Great sipping beer for after dinner conversations.

Busted Knuckle Irish Ale

Red Ale – Irish

5.2% ABV

32 IBU

Rating: 3.39

This Irish Style Ale is a special blend of four types of malted barley and three varieties of hops. It is a medium-bodied ale showing off a deep reddish amber color and thick, tan bubbly head. The aroma is sweet and light followed by moderate caramel-malt flavors with a light roasty finish.

Dragons On the Rock

Lager – Amber / Red

5.5% ABV

Rating: 3.29

Collaboration with Rock County Brewing Co. released for the annual Dragons On The Rock race. Made with Kerry’s Dragon Passion fruit.