A five minute chat with this popular downtown Kenosha brewery.
How did Rustic Road get started?
In 2010, I knew that I wanted to start a brewery. I thought it was going to be something to do in my retirement. But with the craft beer boom upon us, I got the bug and said, ‘Alright, it’s time to do this.’ So in 2012 we opened and were the first operating brewery in Kenosha (just by a couple of months).
What kind of beers do you have on tap?
We have 14 taps available – everything from IPA’s to red ales, blondes, pineapple milkshake, a porter, many different things. From light to dark, we have a great variety.
Where do you get your inspiration for new beers?
Everywhere. Trying other beers, talking to people, brainstorming, seeing what the new trends are, like the milkshake beers, we see what is popular and then put our own spin on it. While vacationing in Spain, I tried a Brute IPA that I never heard of before – it was amazing. We looked into how they made it and we began to craft our own version.
Why the name Rustic Road?
That’s a total tribute to Wisconsin. The Rustic Road program in our state was created over 40 years ago to provide hikers, bicyclists, motorists an opportunity to leisurely enjoy our state’s scenic countryside on preserved two lane roads. We wanted to bring some of that warm northern Wisconsin feel to Kenosha.
What is your advice for an up and coming home brewer?
For starters, make great beer. That’s essential. But don’t go for world domination. Find your space and stand out in it.
What’s your secret behind your great food menu?
It was a collaboration from a lot of people over the years. A lot of our menu items are infused with our beer. The brisket, the chicken, the pork. But we also keep in mind that people like different things. We cater to the vegans and vegetarians – the vegetarian wings – they are so good, our Beyond Burger is vegan-friendly, we have hummus, pico, and other vegan appetizers.
What is the most popular item on your menu?
It would be our brisket. It is the best in town, by far, and very popular.
What makes Rustic Road stand out from the other breweries in the area?
I want to say our beer – our beer is exceptional – but I don’t like to say our beer is better than anyone else’s. The thing that I hear the most from our customers is our staff, the service. We have a great team of people who care about what they are doing and want our customers to leave happy.
Why did you pick Downtown Kenosha?
We love the community which we are a part of. We don’t see this as competition, we see us all together as a unit. We work together with other Downtown businesses. It’s a small tight-knit community and we enjoy being a part of it. Despite the physical challenges of some of these old buildings, they have so much character, and they are just beautiful. Then there is the lakefront, and the parks. And the people, it just feels like home. Kenosha is a great city, but Downtown has so much character.
Rustic Road Brewing Company is located at 5706 Sixth Avenue, they open 7 days a week at 11 am. Visit their website for more information.
Interview and photos by Donny Stancato
Edited by Jason Hedman
(The story first appeared in the Downtown Kenosha magazine vol. 12, Issue 4. 2019)