In 1995, when Ken and Joanne Goronson gave their 29-year-old son Jim a “Mr. Beer” homebrewing kit, little did they know it would lead over 18 years later to… Parched Eagle Brewpub!
Jim’s love of craft beer (called “microbrew” back then) was already well established. Because of the likes of such imports as Young’s Old Nick Barleywine and Spaten Optimator and early U.S. craft beer favorites Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale and Goose Island Honker’s Ale, Jim was hooked. Brewing his own was the next logical step in enhancing his knowledge and love for the world’s third most popular beverage (after water and tea). Plus, brewing a five-gallon batch of one’s own was more cost-effective than buying beer at microbrew/import prices: the equivalent of 2 ½ cases for $20 to $40!
Flash forward to 2008. After Jim’s 13 years of slacker brewing at an intermediate level, his friend Page Buchanan, master brewer/owner of House of Brews, prodded him to move up to the advanced all-grain level of homebrewing. Jim’s enthusiasm for brewing grew exponentially, leading to his realization in the fall of 2009 that his life’s calling is to own and run a brewpub.
Jim is a 2012 graduate of the World Brewing Academy (Siebel Institute) Concise Course in Brewing Technology. Jim has also learned professional craft brewing at House of Brews under the tutelage of Page. He has been a beer judge for homebrew contests, having been certified by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) since 2009.
Early location ideas and origin of “Parched Eagle”
In the fall of 2010, sipping homebrew around a campfire up north, a friend suggested to Jim that the Sauk City/Prairie du Sac area would be good for a brewpub, perhaps on the banks of the Wisconsin River. While investigating the viability of that area, Jim came up with the name Driftless Brewpub, for the location in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. Alas, there was a brewery-in-planning near Virocqua called Driftless Brewing Company, so another name had to found. A visit to Thirsty Pagan Brewing in Superior, WI in 2011 combined with the popularity of Prairie du Sac as a sight for eagle-watching on the Wisconsin River led to … Parched Eagle!
It was sadly determined that the Sauk City/Prairie du Sac area did not have the population density necessary to support a brewpub, but in the fall of 2012, Page suggested Middleton as the ideal community. Jim’s affinity for eagles—majestic birds that are one of the great conservation success stories of the last 40 years—is why the Parched Eagle name has stuck in spite the change of location.
Meanwhile, Jim’s co-worker and friend, Tom Christie, a fellow craft-beer lover as well as mead-maker and holder of much technical knowledge, joined forces with Jim as business partner. Together, Jim as artist and Tom as technician, they established that combination of right-left brain required for the creation of great beer.
The philosophy of Parched Eagle Brewpub is to provide a unique and intimate drinking and dining experience for all customers who step through our doors. Our emphasis will be on producing world-class, fresh beers that pair smoothly with our food menu offerings.
Parched Eagle’s goal is to create beers that embody the adventurous spirit of the craft-brewing movement: creativity within the context of the world’s many great beer styles. Our commitment to producing the best beers possible is the core principle of the business. Paraphrasing a political cliché from the 1990s: “It’s about the beer, stupid.”
In our opinion the Town of Westport is a great location for a small brewpub. Both Westport and neighboring Waunakee are fast-growing communities in the Madison metropolitan area. We feel that the Parched Eagle will complement, rather than compete with, the bars and restaurants inthe area, including those located close by on the north side of Madison. The Parched Eagle would also be the first brewpub located in Westport: a great new addition to the community!
Our brewpub will be identified with the local community and will appeal to the local resident who, with friends, family members, and business associates, is eager to support a locally produced beer. Having tasted our fresh beer, these consumers will be sure to come back to our brewpub as well as asking for our beers at these fine local establishments.
Meanwhile it’s safe to say that the larger Madison area is one of the hotbeds for craft brewing in the entire United States. According to locally-based Frank Beer Distributors, craft beer accounts for around 27% of their total beer sales in Madison, and that figure is rising on an annual basis. That said, 27% of total beer sales represents considerable room for growth!