In 1996 two friends, Mike McElwain and Jerome Ebel bought an old brick building on Highway 10 in Junction City, Wisconsin. The building, built around 1920, was originally a Model A Ford dealership. Subsequently it had a barbershop, followed by a liquidator of second-hand goods, before being vacated in 1988. Purchased in 1996, it took two years to restore and clean the building before the first beer production could begin. With a building, the friends put together money to purchase used dairy equipment. The dairy equipment was retrofitted to ultimately become the brewery’s first brewhouse. Months later, Central Waters Brewery came to be.

They began using their own home brewing recipes. The original included: Ouisconsing Red, Happy Heron Pale Ale, and Mudpuppy Porter. The pair also made an award winning barley wine. In 2000 their Kosmyk Charlie’s Y2K Catastrophe Ale captured a bronze medal at that years World Beer Cup Competition. The initial brews were offered in growlers, twelve, and twenty four ounce bottles, and kegs.

Within a few months of first beer production, Paul Graham was hired to help so Jerome and Mike could maintain their full time jobs. The partner’s start up was part of a national trend toward producing bigger and better beers at a small, local level. The exact opposite of what most Americans had seen since the emergence of modern refrigeration and big national brands, these microbreweries revisited pre-prohibition recipes and expanded them to include most varieties brewed across the world.

After three years under the original ownership, the brewery went up for sale. Brewer Paul Graham teamed up with, avid home-brewer and literal ‘beer fanatic’, Clint Schultz to purchase the building, equipment, and recipes. The team’s choice only secured the place of craft brewing in Central Wisconsin. While the original beer lineup was good, Clint and Paul had ideas of their own. They expanded on the original three beers to five by turning seasonal favorites Lac Du Bay India Pale Ale (IPA) and Satin Solstice Imperial Stout into regular brews. In addition they also wanted to offer bottles in six packs. In order to achieve this the duo acquired an automated bottling machine.

Shortly after the acquisition of the bottling machine, the original brew house fired for the last time. Not being originally designed for the stress it was enduring, the main brew kettle cracked beyond repair. On the five-year anniversary Central Waters purchased a 15-barrel brew house, similar to the one here at the pub, and two 30 barrel fermenters to support the larger batches produced by the new brew house.

In early 2006, Clint Schultz left the brewery to pursue other interests. The brewery is now owned and operated by Paul Graham, Anello Mollica, and Craig Ziolkowski, who bring over 24 years of brewing experience into the company.

Currently, Central Waters Brewing Company has expanded its product line to include twelve beer styles and services over 50 retail locations in Central Wisconsin. Although, only two of the original dairy tanks are in use today, CWBC continues to build on the solid reputation of producing the finest quality beers in Central Wisconsin.

Here’s a toast to Central Waters Brewery’s raison d’etre “Making the world a better place, one beer at a time.”

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