Karben4 Brewing is a craft brewery located in Madison, Wisconsin. It was started by three individuals, two of whom are brothers from Appleton , WI, named Ryan and Zak Koga, and the third partner was Alex Evans. The brewery’s location is situated on Kinsman Boulevard in what used to be the original Ale Asylum Brewing Company location. Ryan gained his brewing experience as brewer for Yellowstone Valley Brewing in Billings, Montana.
While taking over the old Ale Asylum space, Karben4 also purchased some its on-site equipment, including much of the brewhouse, bottling line and cold storage facilities. Other elements are news. Before firing up the brew kettle, they installed three new 30-barrel fermenters, as well as several pieces of equipment essential for transferring, filtering and conditioning beer, including a grain mill and hot liquor tank.
Karben4 opened its doors in 2012 with a focus on creating unique and flavorful beers. Karben4‘s first brew was a porter named NightCall made with beechwood-smoked malt. They quickly gained a reputation for their innovative approach to brewing and their commitment to quality. The brewery has a wide range of beer offerings, including ales, lagers, stouts, and IPAs, each with its own distinct character and flavor profile.
Karben4‘s taproom offers a welcoming and laid-back atmosphere where visitors can enjoy a wide variety of beers on tap. They have a diverse lineup of beers, including IPAs, stouts, lagers, and seasonal offerings. Some of their popular beers include Fantasy Factory IPA, Dragon Flute Belgian Pale Ale, Lady Luck Irish Red Ale, and Tokyo Sauna Imperial Stout.
After finding incredible success with Fantasy Factory on tap, they realized that it was going to be their first packaged offering. Spending months trying to come up with ideas, Ryan stumbled across an art piece by Jason Heuser. Ryan, Zak and the team immediately fell in love and knew that that piece embodied Fantasy Factory. Eventually Ryan and Jason connected and, after meeting in person it became clear that these guys were meant to work together and be friends.
Jason is also the artist behind Hawk Jones, Kwik Trip Series, Bloc Party, Dragon Flute, Lady Luck, Radikatz, America Af, Tokyo Sauna, Simply Dusty, Idiot Farm, Night Call, Diet Starts Tomorrow, Martian Sunrise, Narnia Business, Poco Loco, Notella, Oaktober, Outer Spaced, and more.
Karben4 dedicated months to daily discussions, exchanging ideas in search of the perfect name for their new brewery. They aimed to avoid anything too confining or narrowly themed. Then, one fateful day at the Old Fashioned, the phrase “Carbon 12” emerged. While they didn’t despise it, they weren’t particularly fond of the appearance of “Carbon.” With further contemplation, experimentation with phonetic variations, a touch of chemistry, and, naturally, a bit more imbibing, Karben4 was born amidst a feast of overstuffed chicken wings at Sala Thai.
Carbon serves as the fundamental building block of our world, unleashing boundless possibilities. Likewise beer embodies the same infinite potential. Throughout history, beer has shaped civilizations, molded nations, and continues to evolve and thrive. By choosing the name Karben4 for their brand, brewery, and company, they wanted to create something that symbolizes limitless growth, vitality, and progression. The number 4 also draws inspiration from various sources, including the four valence electrons in carbon bonds and the legendary Green Bay Packer, quarterback, Brett Favre.
As for the logo, the hexagons of Karben4 underwent an evolutionary process similar to the development of its name. The initial logo and branding ideas were sketched on napkins, with one of the concepts featuring a hexagon in a corner. Over time, this design progressed and expanded into the four hexagons that are now recognizable. While the symbol does not have a specific significance, it does reference the hexagonal shape of benzene rings in chemistry.
During the initial years of Karben4, Tom Kowalke, would craft a unique painting to accompany each beer release. Karben4 developed the concept of establishing a visual bond with the beers, thus offering diverse avenues for guests to engage with their brand—through Tom’s artistry, the vibrant beer descriptions penned by Ryan, and, of course, the immersive experience of tasting and savoring the beer.
In mid 2022, Karben4 announced that it would bring back Ale Asylum beers, starting with Hopalicious, a year after the Madison-based brewery closed. All the classic Ale Asylum beers will be brewed again at the Karben4 facility in Madison, which is where they were first brewed when Ale Asylum was founded in 2006. The Koga brothers bought Ale Asylum brands after the brewery closed in 2022 after 16 years of business.
You pick up the phone to a number you know you don’t know, “Should I cool guy it?” you think as you look at the reject button. “Na, what if this one real?” Well, it’s not it never is. Instead of getting upset or down about it just drink a nice refreshing fruited beer. This one uses a yeast that pops with banana but gives you none of that clove flavor. Then it’s layered with mango, peach, and orange. It feels like a warm vacation in a glass.
Porter – American
When there is a generational pecan pie recipe producing pies of such distinct quality that you have no choice but to claim pecan pie as your forever birthday cake, eventually homage must be paid to the pie and the incredibly special Pie-per preserving the tradition: Momma Judy. When her husband loves a certain British rock band, “Hey Judes” writes itself. So people of the world, join us in raising a glass of pecan pie in honor of a most wonderful person, and help us with the chorus, “Nana na naaaaa, HEY JUDE!” We love you, Mom!
Barleywine – Other
Brewed in 2019 and then laid to rest in a variety of oak barrels, the inaugural batch of Karben4‘s new Anniversary series casually referred to around the brewery as PPK. When this barley wine was laid down in bourbon, rye, rum, wine, maple syrup, and coffee barrels 15 months ago, the end game was not clear. A divine idea struck us: this will be our ongoing anniversary project. PPK will be the FIRST beer brewed each year, aged in a unique selection of barrels, and released the following year.
Pale Ale – American
This pale ale features a refreshing résumé of bright citrus American hops harmonizing with a sugar cookie sweetness donated from Bohemian pilsner malt. The result is a crisp, glass-smooth ale worth repeating. Available year-round on tap in our taproom. Available in bottles March through June.
IPA – Imperial / Double New England / Hazy
Imperial New England Style IPA w/ Passion Fruit & Peach. Houston, we have cleared the tower. Awesome. Other awesome words in no particular order: This. Beer. Is. Also. Awesome. Buy. It. Drink. It. Be. Happy. Call. Your. Mother. Suit up, strap in and take the ride with us!
Red Ale – Irish
Brewed as an interpretation of Bordeaux wine translated into beer, this is more than just a beer to satisfy and soothe – it’s an emotional experience. Deepest ruby red and filled with a
symphony of malt flavors including caramel, toffee, raisins, and currants that finish with a simple hint of roast and chocolate tones lingering like a half-remembered dream. This gentle giant, balanced with English hops, dominates all senses without destroying the palate. Sexy as hell.
Pale Ale – American
Magic. Adventure. Mayhem. Fluffy bunny hugs. Bluffy hunt fugs. Sunshine farts on a skittle tart. German and English malts stalk one another in the K4 thunderdome, whilst Mosaic and Centennial hops willfully participate in the bloody sugarlust. Two malts enter, one beer leaves. It doesn’t take a team of rocket appliances to comprehend that this beer kicks ass.
IPA – American
Hopheads crusade on a heroic quest for the holy grail of India Pale Ales. The subconscious composes paradisiacal scenes of malty waves crashing on a ripe lupulin landscape cascading hop flavors and aromas in profuse abundance. With humble confidence we offer this brew as fantasy made reality. Balanced in every detail and gushing resinous, exceptional citrus flavors and aromas that collaborate with soft bready notes surrendered from premium English golden malted barley, this beer is a tropical dreamscape. Epic.
Lager – Pale
Noun. blue falcon (plural blue falcons) (US, military, euphemistic) bravo foxtrot, buddy f***er, a supposed comrade whose actions harm their friends, often but not always, for their own benefit.
Often in life it’s the “pilot”, not the “plane”….but sometimes it’s just “That Guy”. If you can’t identify the BF in your group…it’s you. So, if you’ve been one and owe innocent, decent folks a brewskie, Blue Falcon can help. On the other hand, if you’ve been voluntold one too many times and need affordable therapy (or sweet revenge), seek the Falcon.
Downton Appley is as sentimental as you please. Could it be you’ll recall your first caramel apple, or the caramel apple pop you had last week? Maybe memories of apple picking as a child, or the first time you took your children to the orchard. Perhaps you’ll relive the hangover from college the morning after you drove a sixer of hard cider into your gas tank in less than an hour because, “it tastes like candy”. Whatever happens, we hope this apple ale is the foundation for new and excellent recollections. We packed in the perfect amount of apple experience and married it to sublime grain goodness best described as tight, but not uptight. Enjoy!
Stout – Milk / Sweet
Everything we could get our grubby mitts on went in the brew: chocolate rye and wheat, caramel rye and wheat, toasted buckwheat, blackstrap molasses, baker’s honey, milk sugar, cacao nibs from Ghana and Ecuador, and then we even set up a hardwood fire behind the brewery and roasted 14 pounds of marshmallows that made their way to the brew kettle.
Stout – Oatmeal
Happy New Beer! Are you into making an annual list of strategies for personal world peace? Yeah, neither are we. Instead, we decided to cut loose and brew some happy sauce. Double oatmeal (golden malted and raw rolled) creates a smooth body and silky finish. Just the right blend of roasted malts and a double-barrel blast of pure liquid cacao ensure chocolatey transcendence. English Golding hops bring the package hope with subtle sophistication. So rather than focusing on shortcomings, learn to love yourself and perpetually postpone introspection with our proprietary happy sauce and a new mantra: “Diet Starts Tomorrow”.
Pale Ale – American
Vine Pale Ale – This fermentation is an uptempo jazz lyric, a ballad for good times reminisced and fond memories waiting to exist. Hull Melon and Hallertau Blanc hops weave a zesty bouquet of strawberry, honeydew melon, white grape, lemongrass, and passion fruit personalities that rejoice like children at recess when set against the bright backdrop of a sophisticatedly simple grain bill. Now is the time to enjoy some distilled sunshine and beat the rhythm of life on your breadbasket.
Red Ale – American Amber / Red
The amber you’ve always wanted. Crisp and clean, but full of flavor: milk caramel, toasted biscuit, and sweet wheat. A medium-bodied brew that has character yet remains an all-game drinker that always satisfies, never disappoints, and plays well with many types of food. Like Goldilocks- just right.
Robust all day without dictating your life, this is the porter that other dark beers hang a poster of on their bedroom wall. Malt sweetness is just present enough to enhance the dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavors without destroying the drinkability. The goal is to provide a subtle smoke profile inside a porter that simultaneously creates new fans of dark beer and tames the beast inside the bold beer
IPA – Session
Clean and crisp Session IPA brewed in memory of Major Rocky “Hawk” Jones and dedicated to all servicemen and women, in particular, the airmen and families of the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing, Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin. Thank you for your service.