Driftless Brewing Company, LLC, located in the village of Soldiers Grove in the scenic Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin, has expanded to a 15 BBL system from its original 1 BBL production system started in 2013-14. In a few short years, demand for our beers exceeded the small production capacity, as we were fielding requests for our products from as far away as Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago. Our expansion to a 15 BBL brewery allows us to serve customers throughout southwestern and southern WI and provide a destination brewery and taproom for those seeking quality, local craft beer in the Driftless Region.
The Village of Soldiers Grove has supported our business since the beginning of our residence in the Solar Village with a low cost business loan from their Community Development Corporation for the initial system and additional loans to help through the expansion process. They also are our partner in the state WEDC grant that helped match our loan funding.
This expansion, with funding totaling over $1.1 million, is supported by equipment and building renovation bank loans from Citizens First Bank of Viroqua; SBA 504 equipment and building renovation loans via Wisconsin Business Development, a WEDC Community Development Investment grant, a Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission (MRRPC) CMV Growth Development Fund business loan for working capital, and funding from private investors of DBC. Our building in the Solar Village (created to move the original business district due to catastrophic flooding from the lower floodplain area to high ground on US 61 in the 1980s) was a grocery store for many years and now has been transformed to a production brewery and taproom.
We also have support from our small community as a successful driver of economic development in a poor, rural county. We use local and regional businesses, co-ops and farmers for a majority of our ingredients. Our beers, in name and taste, reflect the rich abundance of the Driftless Area and many of our ingredients are sourced within a few miles of the brewery, including fruits and berries picked by our own staff! Our collaborations have included working with a wide variety of other businesses in the area — one of our most popular has been our milk stout Cow Cult, a local favorite and collaboration with Organic Valley. Another collaboration was with Fresh Energy, a nonprofit out of Minneapolis, that focuses on working with native plantings and honey production underneath solar arrays. We used their honey harvested from these projects to brew our Sun-Kissed Belgian Ale last year.
Striving for the best in our brewhouse: hand-crafted, distinctive beers; respect and service to our customers, and sustainable growth of our business.
Creating a strong and vibrant business that enhances economic growth in our small, rural community; supports local and regional small farms; and nourishes our employees through a healthy and dynamic workplace.
Forming who we are and why we live here in the Driftless region. We want to minimize our impact on the environment that helps sustain our brewery and the farmers who supply us.
Our Brewery is located on U.S. Highway 61 in the village of Soldiers Grove in northern Crawford County, Wisconsin. It is a prime location within the Village as well as centrally located for visitors traveling from La Crosse, Dubuque, Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago. U.S. 61 is a major trucking and commerce route in the Upper Midwest.
We are in the solar village of Soldiers Grove which was created after a major flood and business district relocation in the 1980s and contains a series of buildings, including several businesses and the village hall and library that have passive solar design. See an excerpt from the 2019 WPT’s “Portraits from Rural Wisconsin” which talks about the history of our building, the Solar Village and our work to expand the brewery here.
The area surrounding Soldiers Grove is largely rural and part of the distinctive Driftless Area that was untouched by recent glaciers. The Driftless Area is characterized by rugged hills, high quality streams and rivers that support one of the most successful trout fisheries in the United States (contributing $1.1 billion annually to the Driftless region economy), and one of the highest concentrations of organic farmers in the country (with the headquarters of the international Organic Valley farmer cooperative just 30 minutes away). There is a vital community of consumers within our rural area that support the “buy local” movement within the food and beverage industries, and we have a plethora of small farms, businesses and cooperatives that provide artisan, natural and organic cheeses, vegetables, milk, soda, meats and now, with Driftless Brewing Company, local artisan beer.