Hops & Leisure co-owner
operators Lisa and Mark Paliafito, left, before
their newly-renovated space at 1225 Robruck Drive in
Oconomowoc. Al Leofilos, right, is a partner in the
new craft beer venture.
Ryan Billingham/Freeman Staff
OCONOMOWOC — With a
desire to increase the awareness of its locally brewed
beers, the owners of Leisure Brand Beer will open a
brewpub this week in Oconomowoc — just as interest in
small-batch beer hits an all-time high.
According to the Brewers Association on Monday, for the
first time craft brewers reached double-digit volume
share of the marketplace at 11 percent in 2014. Last
year, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels, and
saw an 18 percent rise in volume and a 22 percent
increase in retail dollar value, according to the
Brewers Association. Retail dollar value was estimated
at $19.6 billion.
Al Leofilos said he and business partners Mark and Lisa
Paliafito want to take their brand of Leisure Beer to
the next level by opening Hops & Leisure in the former
Sammy’s Taste of Chicago at 1225 Robruck Drive, Unit A.
He anticipates it opening today or Wednesday after final
city approvals are received.
The interior has been redone to create a brewpub
environment and a brewery will eventually be on site.
Currently, the Delafield Brewhaus is making the four
Leisure Beer brand beers. There will also be tapas,
sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs inspired by Sammy’s on
the menu. People can buy a growler of beer at a growler
station, which Leofilos said is one of the most advanced
pieces of equipment in the industry. In addition to its
own line of beers, Hops & Leisure will have more than 25
beers available for sale in-house.
Taps and growlers at
Hops & Leisure, a new craft brewpub opening in the
old Sammy’s of Chicago, 1225 Robruck Drive,
Ryan Billingham/Freeman Staff
selected as the place to start Hops & Leisure because
Al, Mark and Lisa hail from there. “When you are
branding your beer you have to have great community
support,” Leofilos said.
While larger cities have big beer venues, smaller
communities need brewpubs, which are trendy, he said. In
the future, he hopes there will be more Hops & Leisures
in Lake Country.
“There is a business aspect to the beer and there is a
living passion aspect of it,” Leofilos said.
‘It’s in our heritage’
Josh Kuffer, assistant brewmaster at Sweet Mullets
Brewing in the Town of Oconomowoc, thinks it’s going to
be a tight market for two microbreweries in the city,
but that every brewer has a different approach.
“There are so many different styles of beer and so many
ways of making beers,” he said. “It’s really
creativeness behind the different brewers.” While Lake
Country has becoming an increasingly popular place to
open brew pubs and breweries, Kuffer said it’s more of a
national trend that connects well in the state.
“Really Wisconsin is a great place for good beer,” he
said. “It’s in our heritage and our German culture.”
Kuffer thinks eventually the market will reach its limit
for microbreweries, but for now there is room for
“With the total beer market up only 0.5 percent in 2014,
craft brewers are key in keeping the overall industry
innovative and growing. This steady growth shows that
craft brewing is part of a profound shift in American
beer culture—a shift that will help craft brewers
achieve their ambitious goal of 20 percent market share
by 2020,” said Bart Watson, chief economist for the
Brewers Association, in a statement. “Small and
independent brewers are deepening their connection to
local beer lovers while continuing to create excitement
and attract even more appreciators.”
The number of operating breweries in the U.S. in 2014
grew 19 percent, totaling 3,464 breweries, with 3,418
considered craft broken down as follows: 1,871
microbreweries, 1,412 brewpubs and 135 regional craft
breweries. Throughout the year, there were 615 new
brewery openings and only 46 closings.