Door County’s history of breweries is as potent as the brews themselves. During prohibition the man who founded the American Academy of Brewing, chemist Robert ‘Doc’ Wahl, closed his academy in Chicago and purchased an orchard in Door County when brewing was no longer allowed.
Once he was settled in, it didn’t take long for Wahl to get back up and running with his love for brewing beer. He continued to keep Door County supplied with bootleg alcohol until the end of prohibition before moving back to Chicago to reopen his institute.
Today, Wahl’s legacy in Door County lives on with a brewing trophy named in his honor, and the brewing scene remains as vibrant as ever.Today’s Door County Breweries Keep a Strong Tradition Alive
If there are a few things Wisconsin knows better than most, brewing beer is definitely one of them. Door County is home to a handful of amazing breweries and brew pubs [in no particular order].
Shipwrecked Brew Pub – Egg Harbor
This pub has been serving grog since long before prohibition. Built in 1882 by George Barringer, the saloon that is now Shipwrecked was constructed to serve the growing number of lumberjacks, sailors, and travelers in the area.
Today, the brewery is run by Brewmaster Rich Zielke who prides himself on delivering nothing but 100% hand-crafted Door County Beers. Whatever type of beer you prefer, Shipwrecked has something for you.
Oh, and don’t forget the ghosts! After all, what is a shipwreck without a few hauntings?
One of our favorite ghost stories from Shipwrecked is the tale of the two revenuers, a.k.a. IRS agents, who came to what was then known as the Harbor Inn to question Al Capone. Shortly after they started asking questions, the two federal agents were never seen again…alive, that is.
Ahnapee Brewery – Algoma
This small, unique brewery offers up an impressive variety of year-round, seasonal, and limited release brews. Though brewery tours aren’t currently available, Ahnapee’s stylish taproom is the place to go for their latest offerings.
Located five miles from the brewery, the converted two-stall garage turned taproom is one of the most unique watering holes in Door county and is open year-round. Here, you can enjoy a rotating array of drafts and a small snack menu to keep you going.
For an even more exclusive beer offering, check out their Hobo series. Their website shares the story this way:
“Legend has it that there was a hobo that rode the Ahnapee & Western train right into the town of Ahnapee (now Algoma) who probably got off the train right behind the tap room just short of where the tracks stopped.
Was he real or just a ghost shadow seen in the boxcars behind the brewery? We’ll never know.”
Personally, we can’t wait to try the Fun Guy, an English Brown Ale with a spring release that is brewed from five different types of mushrooms. This beer is so unique that even Draft magazine had to mention it.
Starboard Brewing Company – Sturgeon Bay
Door County’s first nanobrewery (yes, that is a thing) is Starboard Brewing Company.
Similar to microbreweries, this article by American Craft Beer states that nanobreweries are also small, but the exact definition compared to a microbrewery “is shrouded in a little more mystery.
It is commonly thought that a nanobrewery is defined as a brewery that produces no more than 3 barrels of beer in one batch,” whereas microbreweries are limited to less than 15,000 barrels per year.
Talk about a limited release.
Starboard’s brewery and taproom are located in the heart of Sturgeon Bay. While trying some beer at the taproom, you can pair your drink with their selection of fine Wisconsin cheeses, smoked salmon, and more.
This family friendly environment also offers up board games and bumper pool to further enhance your experience.
Door County Beer Co. and Hacienda Beer Co. – Baileys Harbor
This is a two-fer. In 2012, the craft brewery known as Door County Beer Co. was started by the McMahon’s in Baileys Harbor.
Proud of being a family-run brewery from Wisconsin, they source as many ingredients that go into their beers from within the state as possible.
They also find inspiration from their Wisconsin heritage. Southern Door County has the country’s largest Belgian-American settlement which is why Belgian-style lagers are important to this family of brewers.
But this is not the only style of beer they craft. From Witbier, Saisons, and IPA’s, they brew them all, and they do it extremely well!
This passion for creative brewing that the family enjoys is so great that it continues to manifest itself in new and exciting ways.
Hacienda Beer Co. is the latest branch of the family brewery tree. Founded in 2017 by Door County Brewing Co.’s Danny and Ben McMahon and Allyce Mohs, Hacienda Beer Co. is a small brewery focused on experimental brewing while still creating unique hoppy ales, stouts, and Belgian/farmhouse-inspired ales.
These unique beers, as well as DCBC’s beers can all be enjoyed at their very own Door County Brewing Co. Taproom & Music Hall. Year-round live music and a beer garden make this a perfect spot to sample some of their delicious libations.
Bridge Up Brewing – Sturgeon Bay
A small-batch brewing operation, Bridge Up Brewing is located in the lower level of Italian hotspot, Sonny’s Pizzeria.
Featuring a single-barrel brewing system also known as the experimental brainchild of Owner, Trent Snyder, this local establishment is limited to producing just 31 gallons of beer at any given time.
If it were up to Snyder, he’d brew IPAs all-day, every day, but he realizes that the people of Door County have a variety of tastes and preferences to indulge.
The next time you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to make a pit stop for some pizza and a pint at Sonny’s to see which Bridge Up Beer is on the menu.
Door County Beer Festival – Baileys Harbor
If you want to try beer from a variety of different brewers all in one place, then head to the Door County Beer Festival. Live music, street food, and a plethora of craft brews make this one of our favorite Door County events.
Your ticket includes not just unlimited beer tastings but also a tasting glass, full afternoon of great live music, amazing local food from some of the best restaurants on the peninsula available for purchase, and opportunities to meet the people behind your beers.
Plan Your Tour of Door County’s Breweries!
Centrally located along Sturgeon Bay’s picturesque waterfront, Bay Shore Inn is the ideal relaxation headquarter to stay and explore Door County’s up-and-coming brewing scene.
Take the first step toward your own brew touring adventure, and reserve a comfortable suite today.