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Karben4 - Madison's Newest Brewery

Discussion in 'US - Great Lakes' started by pschul4, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (615) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    This weekend I was visiting my cousin in Madison and I found there is a new stop on our usual brewery tour down there.

    First off before I get to the beer I just want to say all of the guys working there were incredibly nice and genuinely interested in their customers. More on this in a second.

    Even though the grand opening isn't until 1/19/2013 they are currently open and serving 4 beers with another one being released this weekend and the weekend after at their grand opening party.
    They have 4 beers on tap for now: Lady Luck (Irish Red Ale), NightCall (Smoked Porter), SamuRyePA (Rye APA), and Block Party (Amber Ale). With Undercover (Session Ale) and Silk Scorpion (Black IPA) tapping in the coming weeks.

    On Saturday I went in to Karben4 and was promptly greeted by the guy behind the bar whose name was Alex. As we got to chatting I found out that Alex was one of the founders of the brewery along with a few other guys (whose names I was told but have forgotten, my apologies). I ordered a flight and must say the NightCall and Lady Luck were amazing with the SamuRye and Block Party being excellent takes on a couple styles that I don't particularly care for.

    Yesterday, right before leaving to come back to Chicago we stopped in Karben4 one more time. There was someone else behind the bar but he was also one of the founders and was showing us the rough sketches of their label art from his iPhone. As he's showing us Alex comes up front with some PR stuff and says hi to us, etc. As we get to talking about the Silk Scorpion I ask them how long they plan on having it around since I won't be back in town for a month or two, naturally they say it'll depend on demand. As we're talking Alex goes to the back and comes up with a pitcher of Silk Scorpion! He had pulled it straight out of the fermenter and poured us all a glass of it! He made sure to note that it wasn't quite done yet but I sure didn't care, it was delicious! Next Alex asks us if we want to try their session ale so he takes us to the back, gives us a personal tour and pours the Undercover straight from the fermenter to our glasses! It was an amazing experience!

    I will definitely be visiting these guys every time I'm in Madison

    TL;DR Karben4 = great beer, great guys. Go there whenever you've got some free time in Madison

    http://www.karben4.com/
  2. I second the awesomeness of this brewery.
    pschul4 likes this.
  3. Queno

    Queno Zealot (95) Wisconsin Jun 6, 2010

    Kinda surprised more haven't chimed in on this yet, so here goes:
    My thoughts are right in line the OP. The guys @ K4 are pretty damn righteous and the initial brews are better than what i anticipated. They did a lot of demolition within and Ale Asylum helped for a smooth and easy transition. Much more open than before and bar is 2xs the size. Not big on smoked beers and was glad to find Nightcall had more of a smoked characteristic than a dominating presence. Sweet and smooth, very well balanced porter. Also like Ryan's SamuRye quite a bit, hoppier than what i was expecting for a pale ale, bright, crisp, aromatic finish brought on by a good dose of centennial hops. Looking forward to the blk ipa. Also, they are partnered with Underground Collective to provide small plates for appetizers. Underground has already established themselves here in town and that can only help K4's efforts. They have the bottling line in back (retained about 30% of AA's equipment) and should be bottling later in the year. Best of luck to K4. Now go there and put a few back.
    pschul4 likes this.
  4. I stopped in on Tuesday night to check this place out. As a regular at Ale Asylum it felt odd to be going back to the old place. The odd sensations continued as I walked in and recognized the general layout of the space and where the bathrooms were....but that's about it. They've torn down a few walls and made it a much more open and (not meaning this in a necessarily bad way) slightly sterile feel. Lot's of cool colors and a bit more lighting are in stark contrast to the old Ale Asylums darker feel and warmer colors. While the space is certainly attractive, it's not necessarily..."cozy"...feeling to me...to each their own.
    That being said, that's about the only "negative" I could say about this place (and that's not much of a negative). The beer and food were great and the service was stellar.
    I had the SamuRyePA first and was greeted by the sharp tang of the rye along with some fruitiness and muted hops. Certainly not a hop bomb but solid all around. Very tasty. Decided to also order some food as I was hungry and the pretzel I ordered came as a homemade little work of art. Thick on the lower third of the pretzel with the top tapering to a thin knot (think of a necklace with a rather thick bottom) and sat on a board with a dollop of mustard off to the side. Hot, chewy and tasty and it hit the spot.
    While I was drinking and eating I chatted with the bartender who as it turns out was Tom Kowalke who is one of the founders and the one with the artistic presence of the group. He painted a good number of attractive paintings that hang on the far wall and each one represents one of their current or upcoming beers. Very cool. He also went out of his way to answer questions for us, give us a little bit of the history of the founders, tell us about some of the upcoming label art, etc. Super super nice guy.
    I was debating what I wanted for my last beer and he offered me a sample of the Nightcall Porter. I'm not a fan of smoked beers (in fact I can only think of one or two that I've actually considered enjoyable) as most of them overdo the smoke or the smoke tastes "fake" like they added liquid smoke to the batch. The sample was good enough so I ordered a pint. This is one that I definitely enjoyed as the smoke is more of a member of a supporting cast and not the main character. Good chocolate and coffee notes, great mouthfeel with just a tiny smoke presence in the background. Delicious.
    The lady I was sitting next to had the Irish Red (darkest Irish Red I've ever seen!) and she said it was very good.
    And then Tom brought out a bit of the Silk Scorpion Black IPA and let us have samples. As with the smoked beers, black IPA's are another style that have to be done just right for me to enjoy them. While still on the young side with very little carbonation, the sample I had was tasty and if the finished product stays along those lines, I'm sure they'll have another winner in their lineup.
    All in all a great experience...I'll definitely be back.
    pschul4 likes this.
  5. Looking forward to statewide distribution!
    pschul4 likes this.
  6. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (615) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    Me too! Probably not in the plans until 2014 however :(
  7. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (615) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    Growlers are in! Got their sexy logo on them
    [​IMG]
    ehammond1 likes this.
  8. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Had to resurrect this thread as I FINALLY made it there today. Drank their new Fantasy Factory IPA and it blew my mind. This is the Citra hopped IPA I have dreamed of finding in Madison. My new favorite IPA that reminds me of Toppling Goliaths IIPA Sosus. All you Madison BA's who are wanting a damn fine Citra hopped IPA need to go there, you will not be disappointed. You can bring your own growler and fill it up with FF for $16+tax.
    Stevedore likes this.
  9. Stevedore

    Stevedore Champion (835) Wisconsin Nov 16, 2012

    Been meaning to make it out there, I'm sure it'll happen at some point this summer. Another reason to go!
    Ri0 likes this.
  10. bound4er

    bound4er Savant (425) Wisconsin Jul 4, 2007

    I tried Silk Scorpion a couple of months ago and loved it. Sounds like I need to hit the brewery for some FF IPA.
    Ri0 likes this.
  11. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (615) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    Next time you're in there ask for a "Slick Rick" ;)
  12. EROCK75

    EROCK75 Savant (330) Illinois Aug 5, 2009

    TG Sosus is made with Mosaic hops. Did you mean TG Psuedo Sue?
  13. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Nope, I meant Sosus as how good it was. They taste different, yet similar. Just have to try it yourself.
    EROCK75 and pschul4 like this.
  14. EROCK75

    EROCK75 Savant (330) Illinois Aug 5, 2009

    Gotcha. Thought you were saying they had similar hop profiles. I've had both Sue and Sosus and both were great. Hope I can get up to Karben 4 to try Fantasy Factory before its gone. Cheers!
    pschul4 likes this.
  15. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (615) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    You've got time, they keep the rotating IPAs around for 3-4 months :)
    EROCK75 likes this.
  16. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Karben4 is stepping up to the plate. :) I will definitely try this at the brewery.

    We have decided to bourbon barrel age a portion of 1B-K4.
    This should turn out awesome. #craftbeer

    [​IMG]
    pschul4 likes this.
  17. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (615) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    ;)
  18. I think they're doing some great things in their first 7 months.
    pschul4 and Ri0 like this.
  19. Florida9

    Florida9 Advocate (520) Illinois Feb 14, 2009

    Does Karben4 fill other breweries growlers or do they force you to buy one of theirs?
  20. pschul4

    pschul4 Advocate (615) Illinois Jan 7, 2011

    I'm 95% sure they'll fill other breweries growlers
  21. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    They certainly will as long as there is a label on the growler stating the oz.
  22. Grohnke

    Grohnke Savant (380) Illinois Sep 15, 2009

    fwiw, patrick from the bruery commented on this debate, about breweries using other breweries or other unmarked growlers. He made some good points. I post this not thinking you are upset or anything about growler practices, just shedding some light on the debate from a brewery's pov. thought it was interesting

    http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/the-bruery-filling-blank-growlers-now.96494/#post-1416029

    edit: stupac a couple posts down in that thread made some good counterpoints though, so it continues :cool:
  23. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Just posted on twitter that they are brewing an Oaktober Ale. I'll stop in to try this one!
    pschul4 likes this.
  24. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Sounds very good.
  25. slaneja

    slaneja Aficionado (145) Wisconsin Mar 26, 2010

    Thanks for the heads up.

    I really enjoy their beer and their bar, but every time I'm in there the place is empty. That's not necessarily a bad thing from my perspective, since the service is great, but I hope it doesn't hurt their long term prospects. Their beer is great so I hope they make it and I wish I could find it at more local bars.
  26. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

  27. slaneja

    slaneja Aficionado (145) Wisconsin Mar 26, 2010

    Yeah, good point.
  28. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    With the new capacity, we should see them fire up the bottling line and start distribution in early 2014. I can't wait!
    [​IMG]
    pschul4 likes this.
  29. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Had the Oaktober tonight. Wow, just wow. So mellow and packed with flavor and hints of wood. It was really something special.

    Nitecall is also a solid Porter.
  30. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Awe Hell yeah!
    [​IMG]
    MarcusHalberstram likes this.
  31. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    Fantasy Factory is a very good beer. Glad it'll be around more.
  32. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    You should really try the Oaktober.
  33. Etan

    Etan Advocate (745) Wisconsin Jul 11, 2011

    Planning to get up there any day now. Work's been busy though. Is it still on?
  34. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    It is still on.
  35. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Yuletide Stout, Fleece Navidad, release party on November 22 at 7PM. I think this is their first stout.
  36. Queno

    Queno Zealot (95) Wisconsin Jun 6, 2010

    True, first stout...and it's going to be a big one, weighing in less than 10%. Second stout to follow that come jan/feb (a coffee'd up russian imp stout)...and bottling to begin sometime first quarter '14...get excited.
    pschul4, Ri0, Westuh and 1 other person like this.
  37. slaneja

    slaneja Aficionado (145) Wisconsin Mar 26, 2010

    Great news here. Can't wait to have fantasy factory sitting in the fridge.
  38. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    I most certainly am! Fantasy Factory in bottles? Yes Please!
  39. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    Here is the description of Yuletide. Liquid nostalgia. 9% Oatmeal milk stout with organic cane and Belgian dark candi sugar, spiced with a touch of clove and cardamom.
  40. dkrep

    dkrep Aficionado (125) Wisconsin Oct 4, 2013

    Stopping out there tomorrow to get some of the new Fleece Navidad, maybe even watch the second half of the Packer game there and get some food. They have great food there!

    Also, just came in to echo the fact that Fantasy Factory is amazing. It's nice to have a Citra beast around town that, IMO, can hang with Zombie Dust and Psuedo Sue and is available whenever wanted.
    zieglemt and Ri0 like this.

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