Meet Your Good Neighbor Front Porch Series: Capital Brewery
When Ashley Kinart-Short was a biology student at UW-Madison, she intended to pursue a career in medicine. But after she graduated from college, she was working in a craft beer bar, just as the specialty beer industry in Wisconsin was exploding.
Kinart-Short was captivated.
“I really need to learn how to make this beer,” she thought. “I don’t want to just pour a pint. I want to know how it’s made and learn how it gets into this glass.”
Kinart-Short followed her curiosity and passion, receiving an international brewing diploma through the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany.
Today Kinart-Short is brewmaster at Middleton’s award-winning Capital Brewery, a craft brewery that opened its doors in 1984.
It’s a local brewery with a big following.
“They call it Middleton’s backyard,” she said.
In ordinary times, the brewery holds tours and hosts large in-person events, but it’s shifted gears temporarily to provide virtual brewery experiences. The brewery is holding monthly beer and cheese tastings (details are available on the brewery’s website) and it’s planning a virtual Bockfest experience (Feb. 27, 2021). In the summer, the brewery hopes to safely reopen its popular Bier Garten, an outdoor venue that serves Capital brews on warm summer days.
Wisconsin Amber is by far the brewery’s most popular offering, but it also brews a variety of seasonal offerings like Winter Skal and Lake House. The brewery also uses a small-batch brewing operation as a test kitchen to craft small batches of unique and inventive beers.
“I call that little system my playground, because I get to play around with different styles, have some fun and do some research,” Kinart-Short said.
Capital Brewery’s main offerings, like Wisconsin Amber, are available in local stores and the brewery recently installed a small canning line to expand its offerings.
Beer and growlers are for sale to-go at the brewery but Kinart-Short misses the face-to-face customer interaction. She said that even though it’s winter, people who purchase beer are welcome to enjoy a beer on an outside table before they head home. She’s been happy to see a number of customers brave the cold weather to down a pint.
“That’s been really helpful to us, knowing there are still people out there appreciating us,” she said.
Kinart-Short is looking forward to warmer days when more can return to the outdoor tables at Capital Brewery, but she’s not looking back at her career change. She was one of the first female brewmasters in Wisconsin and is active in the Pink Boots Society, an organization that supports women in the brewing industry.
She jokes that she is actually using her biology degree more than many of her friends from school. She lives and breathes the science of fermentation.
“It’s such a fun, wild ride, I can’t image doing anything else at this point in my life and I definitely never look back to the medical world,” she said. “I’m very happy I made the decision I did.”
About Capital Brewery
1834 Parmenter St., Middleton, WI 53562
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, noon-5 p.m.