Stevens Point, WI — One of America’s oldest breweries, Stevens Point Brewery turns 160 years old in 2017. The Wisconsin craft brewer is celebrating the anniversary with a Point Special Lager retro can package, commemorative bottle caps, big giveaway promotions at retail, and an extra special treat this summer: a commemorative draft beer available only while supplies last.
Julie Birrenkott, Point Marketing Manager, won’t say if the commemorative beer from Brewmaster Gabe Hopkins and his team will be an ale or a lager. “It’s a surprise,” she said. “We have to wait until summer to find out.”
It’s no surprise that longneck bottles of all Point craft beers will sport commemorative bottle caps starting in the spring. But there’s added mystery in early summer, when major promotional giveaways will begin at participating retailers in Point’s core central Wisconsin markets. “Let’s just say that if you want to pour delicious draft beer directly in your home, it will pay to keep an eye out for Point-branded displays in retail and on our social media.” Birrenkott said. “These prizes and giveaways are a perfect way for us to thank the Point beer fans in our home markets. They have been our most loyal customers throughout the years.”
Summer will also bring Point Special Lager retro cans in specially marked 12-packs and 24-packs. The can features a Point Special label from the late 1890s when the brewery, founded by German immigrants in 1857, was owned by Gustav Kuenzel. Kuenzel, who was also the brewmaster, changed the name of his brewery to the Stevens Point Brewing Company in 1902. Point Special was its best-selling beer and remains the Point Brewery’s flagship brand today.
Joe Martino, Point Brewery Operating Partner, is enthusiastic about the historical commemorative cans for his biggest brand. “What better way to celebrate your history than by proudly displaying it where everybody can see and enjoy it,” he said, adding: “As one of the oldest breweries in the nation, we have plenty of brewing history to offer.”
Brewed as a non-alcohol malt beverage or “near beer,” Point Special helped the brewery survive Prohibition. During World War II, when barley was rationed and metal for cans and bottle caps was scarce, Point Special became the brewery’s only brand.
The brewery grew from the 1950s through the 1980s, helped by a widely publicized beer tasting in 1973 orchestrated and reported by famous newspaper columnist Mike Royko of the Chicago Daily News. He proclaimed Point Special Lager to be America’s best beer. By 1990, the brewery (now owned by the Shibilski family), expanded outside of Wisconsin, with Point Special Lager being introduced in the Twin Cities and Chicago.
As sales grew, so did the brewery. New aging tanks were installed in 1994 and a new warehouse added in 1997. Martino and partner Jim Wiechmann acquired the brewery in 2002 and continued to grow the business. They entered the soft drink market by introducing Point Premium Root Beer, and expanded distribution throughout the Midwest in 2004. New gourmet sodas were introduced and the brewery began brewing seasonal beers in addition to its classic Point Bock. The Whole Hog family of specialty beers came along in 2009. In 2012, Point launched its highly successful Ciderboys Hard Cider business. In recent years, both craft beers and hard ciders have won numerous awards and medals at festivals and competitions.
The brewery operation also expanded. Between 2010 and 2014, Point Brewery invested nearly $5 million in building expansions and upgrades to equipment and infrastructure. More than two dozen unitanks for fermenting and aging beer were installed in recent years, along with a new can packaging line and a second brew kettle that increased the brewery’s annual brewing capacity to 150,000 barrels.
Stevens Point Brewery TodayToday Point’s handcrafted beers and hard ciders are sold in 36 states nationwide. Point Brewery uses only the highest-grade barley malts, specialty malts, grains, and the choicest hops to brew its handcrafted beers.
In addition to Point Special Lager, Point’s portfolio of year-round beers includes Point Session Pale Ale, an American-style Pale Ale; Point Onyx Black Ale, a robust dark ale; Point Drop Dead Blonde Ale, a golden ale; Point Amber Classic,an American-style amber lager; Point Beyond the Pale IPA, a robust, hoppy India Pale Ale; and Point Smiley Blue Pils, a Czech-style pilsner. The year-round Point IPA variety pack features four unique India pale ales: Point Spruce Tip IPA, Point Peach Mango IPA, Point White IPA and Point One Shot IPA. Year-round products also include the Whole Hog Limited Edition “big beers:” Whole Hog Espresso Stout, Whole Hog Six-Hop India Pale Ale, Whole Hog Russian Imperial Stout, Whole Hog Barley Wine Ale and Whole Hog Scotch Ale. Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale is a fall seasonal. In addition to, Point Brewery’s seasonal lineup features Point Bock, a genuine bock beer brewed the old-time way; Snow Pilot Pistachio Nut Brown Ale, a winter seasonal just introduced; summer seasonals Siesta Key Citrus Pale Ale, with a splash of grapefruit juice, and Point Coast Radler, a mix of beer and natural citrus flavors; and Point Oktoberfest, a Bavarian-style Märzen beer for the fall.
Point brews five unique James Page specialty beers sold only in convenient 12- ounce cans: A Cappella Gluten-free Pale Ale, Casper White Stout, Yhaba Dhaba Chai Tea Porter, Healani Pineapple Hefeweizen, and Bastian Black Forest Cake, a dark porter.
Ciderboys Cider Co. and Point’s gourmet soft drinksPoint’s Ciderboys Cider Co. hard ciders blend unexpected fresh fruit flavors with apple cider. Ciderboys’ year-round products are First Press, a traditional hard cider; Raspberry Smash, alive with the tartness of raspberries; and Strawberry Magic, a blend of fresh strawberries and apple cider. Ciderboys also produces winter seasonal Mad Bark, made with natural cinnamon; fall seasonal Cranberry Road, a pairing of apple cider and cranberries; and seasonals Pineapple Hula, Peach County and Grand Mimosa. Pineapple Hula is made with fresh Hawaiian pineapple, Peach County combines pure peach flavor with apple cider, and Grand Mimosa is a winter cider made with succulent California oranges.
Gourmet soft drinks include Point Premium Root Beer, Point Premium Diet Root Beer, Point Premium Orange Cream, Point Premium Vanilla Cream, Point Kitty Cocktail and Point Premium Black Cherry Cream Soda.