Capital Brewery: Island Wheat Sails In to Save Washington Island Economy

Raechelle A. Cline
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Capital Brewery Creates Ale That Supports Sustainable Agriculture

MIDDLETON, Wis. (March 17, 2006) – Winter wheat that brought new life to Washington Island, located off the northern tip of Door County and surrounded by straits known as “Death’s Door,” has now returned to the island in the form of a refreshing new brew called Island Wheat.

Farmland on the 22 square mile island sat vacant for years until the 2005 crop was harvested and sold entirely to Capital Brewery Company of Middleton, Wis. Ten cases of the new creation made a long and complicated trek back to the island last week with the help of some very excited island residents.

“Islanders are so excited about the future that exists as a result of Island Wheat that they are going to great lengths to get their hands on it. You can see the pride in their eyes and we love being part of that,” said Carl Nolen, president of Capital Brewery.

The first shipment of beer arrived after making its way from Middleton by truck to Green Bay. There it was transferred from the truck to a cab for transport to the ferry dock on the northern tip of Door County. The cases were loaded onto the “Seediver” fishing boat owned by Ken Koyen. Under guard, the bottles were delivered to their final destination at “The Granary,” one of the island’s most popular establishments.

Until recently the island was destined for the same future as its nearby neighbors in mainland Door County. More than twenty years ago, commercial and residential developers bought land in anticipation of a sport fishing boom that never took off. With the help of Island Wheat, the hope for a thriving economy has returned.

Demand for the new brew has reached unexpected proportions, the crew behind the brew at Capital Brewery is working double-time to meet the order requests from retailers across the state. Capital Brewery is working with Island growers to produce the 2006 crop and plans to continue the relationship as long as possible.

“We love the idea that what we love doing—making great beer—will allow our friends on Washington Island to make better lives for themselves,” Nolen said. The brewery is planning several events in the fall to celebrate the harvest.

Island Wheat is currently on-tap at more than 200 locations in the Madison area and across the state. More than 8,500 cases of Island Wheat hit the shelves across the state on February 27.

Since then, the Brewery has received unprecedented orders, a refreshing surprise for a refreshingly different brew.

Capital Brewery Company, Inc. is a publicly-held company based in Middleton, Wisconsin. Capital Brewery brews eight annual, four seasonal and four limited release beers amounting to 17,000 barrels a year. In November 1998, it was named the top brewery in America by the Beverage Tasting Institute of America, an independent panel of international beer experts. For more information about Capital Brewery visit or contact Monika Greenheck at (608) 836-7100.