Ahnapee Brewery, with it’s original home base in Algoma, has a new facility near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Compared to the intimate setting in Algoma, it’s apparent that Ahnapee is thinking big. Nick Callaway is working to keep up with a growing demand for his beer in this Suamico location. With an event hall for forty people, coupled with a monstrous tap house, it seems the Suamico taproom is hardly related to its Algoma counterpart.
I decided this past weekend, since Ahnapee’s Suamico location was celebrating its grand opening, that I’d visit the two locations. You know, do a little Compare and contrast. The thing is, there’s such a stark contrast between the two locations, that, besides the quality beer, there’s little they have in common. I’ll describe them, give you my take and let you decide which better suits your style. Of course, if you’re looking for a nearby place in Green Bay, the Suamico location wins out.
Here’s my two night Ahnapee Brewery experience
It’s a beautiful Thursday night in the toilet paper capital of the world. Yes, toilet paper capital. You see, I read plenty of literature geared for people visiting Green Bay. They all seem to mention that Titletown is the smallest NFL city. So, I figured I’d throw you a curve. Fact is, the pioneers of your dear Charmin, Scotts, Cottonelle, or whatever you apply to your rump after doing your business, owe credit to this land – before Curly Lambeau assembled his historic team.
But I’m not thinking of the Packers or contemplating a shortage in soft two ply paper. I’m thinking beer.
And as Ahnapee’s Suamico location breaks the mold for brewery locations, I’m very interested to see what this particular destination is brewing up. You see, I’m used to visiting breweries prominently situated in a downtown setting. I’m not accustomed to a place on a frontage road just off a busy highway. It seems that’s where the money bleeding corporate staples usually hangout. You know, the Subway’s, McDonalds, Kwick Trips and whatever other US business that can take advantage of desperate motorists. In short, this just doesn’t feel like an Ideal place for a craft brewery or tap room.
When we arrive, there’s a short line outside. I’ve been anticipating this brewery’s opening, and apparently others have just as much. As we wait, a man brings out a serving tray filled with sample size containers of beer. That’s a smart touch, showing appreciation towards waiting patrons registers high on my experience meter.
When a table opens, an older gentleman leads us into a pretty sizable taproom, and presents our table. We sit in the fresh side room, with no bar present, and checkout the giant Ahnapee Brewing sign. We also scan the QR code at the table for their extensive beer list. There’s also a list of nearby eateries and snacks. While at the bar, if you notify your server, you can order from a restaurant and have it delivered to your table.
As far as the ambiance is concerned, its not horrible. But there’s no real wow factor and it lacks that personal touch, at least from what I see. Outdoors, authentic oak kegs serve as tables, however, there really isn’t a patio per say-just a spot on the lot. We order two beers and I believe we paid six bucks a piece; standard going rate.
In the end, its a decent stop and I will probably visit again. But, as I said, I wasn’t wowed either. I think it will be a great place to meet the demand of the customer, with the sizeable brewery. However, the tap room is just bland and lacks character-at least for my taste.
Fast forward to Friday. Heidi and I are on a small road trip, as we journey east towards the shores of Lake Michigan. We find a small beige garage in the lakeside town of Algoma. It’s a very small place, so much so that Heidi asks, “Is that it?”
I shrugged, a bit perplexed as I survey the giant sign on the front, “Must be.”
“That’s really small..” Heidi comments.
Out in front, There’s a picnic table and people just chatting. When we enter, I’m surprised to see that the taproom is at least a little bigger than the impression I had. Still, it looks like some guy repurposed his garage and built a bar inside…and that’s simply awesome. I immediately fall in love with it’s intimate charm. And it gets better.
After we order our beers, make a little small talk and head outside, I’m blown away by this place’s backyard. Attached to the building, a very small ledge with eight or so seats overlooks a marina. If you decide to venture down the hill, there’s plenty of seating near the marina.
I should mention that this place shares a backyard with the neighboring Von Stiehl Winery, so there’s plenty of room and seating to enjoy your beer. The beer is good, the weather is perfect and the view is fantastic. This is the perfect place to talk over the week, life, future plans or anything that pops in your head.
The only slight drawback to the Algoma location would be choice of beer. I believe there are a about half a dozen more beers available in Suamico. Still, there’s a decent selection at this place by the lake.
In closing, Ahnapee beer is truly craft brew at its finest. Their two locations put the customer first and instigate a fun filled time. I, myself, love the Algoma location -while the Suamico location is definitely decent and serves its purpose well. Go hang out at the location nearest you!