President of Sprecher Brewing Company, Jeff Hamilton, is an engineer by trade and spent many years in manufacturing.
He also spent 12 years in charge of various business units at Rockwell Automation. Today, he is president of Sprecher Brewing Company, a Milwaukee-based company that uses Wisconsin honey in many of its products. The investors called Hamilton when the founder was looking to spend less time at the business.
Q: Milwaukee, as you know, is a huge beer town. What makes Sprecher successful as a micro-brewery?
A: In 1985, Sprecher was the first brewery to open in Wisconsin since prohibition. After 28 years we have a great local following. The thing that most makes us successful is the quality and consistency of our products. We are also very family oriented with our soda offerings in addition to alcoholic products.
Q: You work with Wisconsin honey in your sodas and condiment products. Can you talk about where that idea came from?
A: Actually there is honey in all of our soda products. Unlike most sodas, which are cold mixed ingredients, ours are actually brewed. Honey is essential to the flavors of our sodas. The brewing process actually caramelizes the honey to produce the unique flavors in our sodas. Since the condiments are made from the sodas, the honey comes along for the ride.
Q: What is it about working with honey that’s so great?
A: Honey is high in fructose, which is essential for sweetening and the unique flavors we get. It is also a natural product that is looked upon very favorably by consumers.
Q: Any plans for future products with honey?
A: Any new soda flavors that we produce will certainly have honey. In January we introduced our Hard Root Beer, an alcoholic, adult-only version of our root beer that contains honey. This product has been so well received that we cannot make enough to keep up with demand. Later this year, we will introduce for the first time, a braggot, which is a cross between a beer and a mead. We expect a lot of buzz when that product is introduced.