Enthusiastic about beer
The Fermentorium offers family friendly atmosphere

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Correspondent

March 15, 2016

Kristopher Volkman is the founder and president of The Fermentorium, which opened in January.
Photo by Mark Justesen

Wisconsin’s love affair with beer dates to the 1830s, when the state’s first breweries started to appear. These first brewers were mostly small. They delivered their beer in kegs to local taverns via horse and wagon.

In many ways, time and technology have changed that. But in other ways, Kristopher Volkman is doing exactly what those first Wisconsin breweries did nearly two centuries ago, but with a modern twist at the town of Cedarburg’s Fermentorium.

“We have the capability to currently brew 20 barrels of beer at one time,” said Volkman, founder and president. “We have our first two tanks full now with a red IPA and a dunkelweizen. We hope to have a release party for both of these in March.”

The Fermentorium opened at the end of January and until its first few brews are ready, is offering other choice selections from Wisconsin brewers.

“We’re not a tavern, so we don’t have a liquor license,” explained Volkman. “We have a brewery license, which means we can serve our own beer and that of other state brewers. We currently have some selections on tap that you can’t find anywhere else in the area.”

The large tasting room at The Fermentorium in the town of Cedarburg is a comfortable place for customers to relax and sample a variety of beers.
Photo by Mark Justesen

The Fermentorium space along Highway 60 is primarily that of a brewery, but its large tasting room also provides a comfortable place for customers to hang out and try some quality beer.

“I like to think of us as more of a beer café, similar to a coffee house,” Volkman said. “We’re actually a very family friendly place – we have large tables and couches and games that people can use while they are here.”

In addition to the rotating beer selection, The Fermentorium also offers a selection of sodas from Viroqua-based Wisco Pop. These craft-brewed sodas feature real sugar and natural ingredients.

One thing you won’t find at The Fermentorium? Televisions – and that’s intentional.

 Photos by Mark Justesen

“I really like to see people come in and talk to each other,” said Volkman. “We also close at 10 p.m. every night – we are a little different in that respect. The focus here is on really enjoying the beer and being able to try something new each time.”

The staff at The Fermentorium is happy to talk beer with aficionados as well as those new to the beer world. Selections are available in different ounce pours, so customers can try different selections or stick with favorites.

“We also have flights so that people can have more of a sample experience,” he said. “Some people come in and very specifically want a certain type of beer while others are more open to trying different things.”

Eventually, Volkman would like to host beer-pairing dinners in the tasting room and other similar activities. Volkman is a longtime home brewer, and his home brewing equipment has since been relocated to the brewing room at The Fermentorium.

Photo by Mark Justesen

“I’ve been brewing my own beer at home for about nine years – about 200 batches total, none of which were exactly the same – and some of it was really good, and some of it was not,” he admitted. “But we’re now using that equipment to try new things. We’re about to do a hibiscus rose petal saison, for example.”

As a self-professed beer enthusiast, Volkman has also done some traveling to other craft beer hotspots throughout the country. His idea for The Fermentorium is a hybrid of the best ideas he’s seen in places like Colorado, the Pacific Northwest and North Carolina.

Once The Fermentorium is regularly producing its own beer, it will be providing kegs to local bars and restaurants. It will not be available for retail purchase to consumers for a simple reason: The Fermentorium does not have bottling capabilities yet.

Photo by Mark Justesen

“Down the road, that’s definitely something we’d like to do,” said Volkman. “We’re also interested in pursuing an additional license so we can do wines and hard ciders.”

Plans are also in the works for fermented foods – think sauerkraut, pickles and kombucha – as Volkman’s wife is a gardener.

“Fermented foods are good for you,” he said. “My wife has done some fermenting and preserving and we’d like to also add that here.”


The Fermentorium
7481 Highway 60