The Story Behind Wisconsin’s Popular Line of Progressive Brews (& What’s Next)

By Christina Lorey

August 9, 2023

[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the brewery’s continued operaton.]

A truce appears to have taken place in the battle between Minocqua Brewing Co. and Oneida County.

On August 9, the same county committee that, last week, had voted to revoke the brewery’s operating license decided to give Minocqua Brewing a six-month extension and put the permit revocation on hold, pending an appear from owner Kirk Bangstad as both sides try to find a way to resolve their differences.

Bangstad and local government leaders have been in a fight over how to use land outside the taproom. Officials demanded parking spaces, which would have made it impossible to also have a beer garden. Bangstad pointed out that similar businesses didn’t appear to be under the same stipulations.

Minocqua Brewing’s owner said he only started getting political with his brews in the first place when Republican politicians started playing politics with his business during the COVID pandemic.

Here’s the latest information on the current standoff.

Bangstad was forced to shut down his bar and restaurant in 2020, following multiple skirmishes with what he calls the “OBNOM”—the old boys’ network of Minocqua. The responsible business owner got in trouble for asking customers to wear masks during a pandemic and for hanging a Biden sign that was too big for locals’ liking—among other spats.

But the funny thing is that Bangstad’s success has skyrocketed since he closed his in-person pub and started brewing #progressivebeer, which—despite an ongoing dispute with Oneida County—he now ships nationwide.

Some favorites include:

Biden Beer
“It’s inoffensive, especially to women,” the label reads. “It’s not bitter. It’s best served while taking the temperature down. Guaranteed not to overstay its welcome in your fridge.”

,la – A Vice Presidential Stout
“The more conservative the TV personality was throughout her campaign, the more he mispronounced her name. It’s like they did it on purpose. Well, she’s now the Vice President and we don’t think anyone’s gonna forget her name ever again.”

Fair Maps IPA
“Don’t let gerrymandering leave a bitter taste in your mouth with this balanced and un-rigged IPA. 5% of the profits go to the Fair Maps Coalition.”

Tammy Shandy
“At this point, Tammy Baldwin has become one of Wisconsin’s many treasures—like beer and cheese. And that’s why we put all three of them on a can.”

Click Here for the Full Lineup (& How to Order)

NOTE:

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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