Area bars shifting taps toward more craft brews

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Wigwam Tavern has been quenching people's thirst on E. Madison St. since 1939. If you go in there today, the drafts of choice are a little different than what they were even just a few years back.

The line of taps at the Wigwam Tavern in Eau Claire has shifted to be dominated by more of the craft and micro brews, as opposed to previously-traditional beers.

"I got Kona Big Wave. I always keep a cider – so, Angry Orchard. Usually keep a Leinie's seasonal, so it's their Vanilla Porter. I do always keep Spotted Cow on tap; it is Wisconsin. Then the Bells Two Hearted and then Stella," Dave Ottosen, who’s owned the Wigwam Tavern for the past 13 years, said to WEAU 13 News on Wednesday.

The Brewers Association, a national authority on the craft beer scene, recognized 5,301 craft breweries in the nation last year, with 138 in Wisconsin. That gives owners of bars in Eau Claire, like Ottosen’s Wigwam, many fresh-tasting options for their taps.

"Obviously I'm not a place that has 30 taps, you know,” he said. “So I keep try to keep a good rotation and keep it fresh and, you know, try new things all the time."

Ottosen's move away from more traditional taps like Miller Lite and Budweiser is part of the continually-growing shift towards embracing craft crew scene. With a wider variety of taps at many bars, Ottosen said he does it to help out with its bottom line.

"The price difference between domestics and craft has inch closer together and there's just a bigger perceived value when it comes to craft," he said.

Perception is reality for UW-Eau Claire student Joseph Beck, when he heads out to a local bar.

"I like the different flavors that different manufacturers and breweries can put into a beer and like the time,” Beck said to WEAU 13 News on Wednesday. “When you actually sit down to drink and actually enjoy a beer, you can taste all the different flavors in it."

Ottosen said this move towards the craft taps has him considering adding four more taps at the wigwam. So, potentially more opportunities to increase the variety he's aiming for. So, as the craft brew movement rolls on into more bars, like the Wigwam Tavern, Ottosen said he isn't totally shunning the more-major brews.

"If you want a Bud Light, you can get it in a bottle," he said.

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