Meet Jeff Hamilton, the hophead
Sprecher president behind beer’s greater visibility here

By Alison Henderson - News Graphic Staff

July 27, 2017

Jeff Hamilton is pictured behind the wheel of the of the Sprecher Beer Command van.
Submitted photo

If you’ve ever enjoyed a cold stein of Sprecher beer from an old fire truck in one of Milwaukee’s parks or during a Friday night at Summer Sounds, you can thank Cedarburg resident Jeff Hamilton.

Hamilton is the president of Sprecher Brewing. He was promoted to the position in 2010, after five years as the company’s vice president and general manager.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Hamilton started his career in Cedarburg in 1979 after studying metal casting technology at Purdue University. He spent about 13 years at what was then Meta Mold until he was transferred to Mississippi.

He returned to Cedarburg, taking a job with a software company that was later purchased by Rockwell Automation, where he spent another 13 years. And after starting a custom motorcycle wheel business in Germantown, he eventually made his way to Sprecher.

On the daily, the 60-year-old is usually interacting with people in the brewhouse, on the packaging line and pegging, with salespeople, accountants and distributors, and yes, partaking in a lot of sampling. He said the highly regulated business also frequently involves

government affairs. Hamilton has been on the board of Wisconsin Brewers Guild for 10 years, serving three years as the guild’s president.

He also sits on the Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau that is responsible for Bayshore’s Father’s Day beer festival and the upcoming Aug. 26 Glendale Root Beer Bash – he said they are trying to make Glendale a root beer destination.

He is an occasional homebrewer.

“If I do brew at home it’s going to be unique,” he said.

His homemade concoctions, often created for party guests, have included brewing with walnut and maple sap instead of water and with the Chaga mushroom, that offers a darker brew with a lot of health benefits.

When he’s not overseeing all manufacturing, purchasing, accounting, sales and marketing for the Glendale-based brewing company, the husband and father of two adult children – and a cat – said he likes to spend his time relaxing.

“I try to spend as much time at my Three Lakes cabin as I can. I love to fish and be on the water. I enjoy good food too,” he said.

As for the beer trucks, “it’s a joint story between us and (Milwaukee) county,” Hamilton said.

Right around the time the county put out bids for companies to run a new traveling beer garden, Hamilton crossed paths with an old fire truck along the side of the road and thought it would make a great beer vendor.

“So I took a chance and put together a proposal based on an old fire truck, and they wanted it. So then I had to go find a truck,” he said. “It’s been quite a fun adventure.”

Now there are five traveling beer trucks in use, in addition to several accompanying food truck ambulances that serve pretzels, potato chips, pizza and root beer floats. After being approached by the BoDeans to make a custom brew for their return to Milwaukee, Hamilton connected with Sue Schrader of Summer Sounds to provide it during last year’s close-out show featuring the Waukesha-based band. This season, the fire truck is at Cedar Creek Park every summer Friday, offering tasty beers and now, onsite canning of 25.4 ounce cans.

Next they are gearing up for the state fair and seasonal bashes. They just launched a line of new sodas called Sprecher Diamond and released a Door County cherry soda earlier this summer for Discover Wisconsin’s 30th anniversary that will become a permanent part of the soda line, and even get its own badger character on the label.

“Sprecher’s always doing fun things, so we always seem to have something on the horizon,” he said.