O’so Brewing Begins $2 Million Brewery Buildout with City Help

Austin Ray

THE GIST
O’so Brewing is moving ahead with a $2 million expansion project with some help from its hometown. On Monday, the common council of Stevens Point, Wisconsin voted in favor of a proposed development agreement between the city and brewery ownership to help build out a sizable new facility, complete with a brewery and taproom, along County Highway HH. Said Stevens Point Mayor Mika Wiza in light of the unanimous vote to provide land and grants for the project:

“It’s a benefit to the entire community that we can help a small local company expand in this area.”

WHY IT MATTERS
The details of the development deal sound a lot like the details of other development deals struck between breweries and their host cities around the country, albeit with some different numbers. Here, as reported by the Stevens Point Journal, the city has resolved to sell 20 acres of land for a ceremonial $1 to Big Thinker, an LLC owned by O’so owner Marc Buttera, while providing an additional $500,000 grant for various site improvements and upgrades. As detailed by the agreement, Big Thinker is subsequently slated to complete the project in two years and pay the city back through increasing tax increments between 2020 and 2033.

O’so currently brews out of a 12,000 square foot space in Plover and also operates a 4,000 square foot storage space in the area. It wasn’t immediately clear what, if anything, the company plans to do with its current digs, as Buttera could not be reached for comment. For what it’s worth, Buttera also declined to comment when he was approached by local media at Monday's hearing for the deal. A person who answered the phone at the brewery on Tuesday, however, said Buttera planned to release a statement at the end of the week, and that the company couldn't comment further.

Regardless, it’s clear the new space will create not only additional room for the company to stretch its legs and brew more beer, but also create entirely new opportunities. On top of the abovementioned brewery and taproom, O’so also plans to create a barrel-aging cellar and, perhaps even more interestingly, plant fruit orchards and an on-site hop farm, clearing a path for the brewery to create a slew of entirely homegrown products (and perhaps sell hops to other breweries in the area, as that industry has shown a minor, but noteworthy, trend toward local favor).

“Some of the things they’re going to be doing in conjunction with the new project are a disc golf course, and a kickball course, and things like that, growing their own hops on site," Mayor Wiza told WIFC, seemingly as enthralled by the prospect of yard games as a local beer company plucking from its own hop bines. “It’s a fabulous project.”

—Dave Eisenberg