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Sweet Mullets Brewery on tap to open in spring

Cooney native Mark Duchow returns to open business

Oct. 3, 2011

Oconomowoc - There's something good brewing in a vacant space on Industrial Road.

Cooney native Mark Duchow is returning home and bringing with him 20 years of craft-brewing experience to open Sweet Mullets Brewing Co. with partner Barbara Jones.

"We thought Oconomowoc would be a perfect fit, and it's my hometown," said the 1984 graduate who has been working with Johnson on Sweet Mullets for seven years.

Jones is a former NASA engineer pursuing this venture in her retirement, and Duchow is settling back in the community after years around the country in the brewing industry. However, he got his start in Milwaukee learning the trade inside and out, literally.

"I came across an ad for a keg washer and thought, 'hey, free beer,' " said Duchow about landing his first taste at Water Street Brewery, where he cleaned the kegs.

Today, Duchow is an award-wining brewer with both national and international acclaim. He has worked in California, Houston and Oregon, and he's brewed in his home state as brewmaster at Grumpy Troll Brewery in Mount Horeb, where his acclaim still reigns online in past blogs and articles. He's often been called the "mad scientist of beer" for his technique.

Through his travels Duchow has had shared a stein with folks in many different beer-drinking and brewing cultures. "Out East it was dark beers, big, heavy beers, and on the West Coast the big focus is on unique styles using different kinds of yeast and bacteria," Duchow said.

He might mix stuff he learned on the road, or he might come up with something new, Duchow said, noting he's saving exactly what flavors will be offered at Sweet Mullets for when the brewery opens. But if you visit the brewery's website, www.sweetmulletsbrewing.com, there's a few on tap for the new brewery you can read about, including two of Duchow's beers that medaled in the 2010 World Beer Cup.

Duchow and Jones recently received Town of Oconomowoc Plan Commission approval for their business, and Duchow said the goal is to open between next January or February in the space that once housed an auto collision repair center at N58 W39800 Industrial Road, Suite D. Duchow said the space nicely fits the "warehousy" atmosphere they wanted.

Sweet Mullets will feature about 30 different beers throughout the year, Duchow said, as well as have stuff on tap from other Wisconsin breweries.

"It will be a nice place to unwind," Duchow said, adding the brewery will also feature more than a dozen menu items or "small plates" if you'd also like something to munch on as well as other libations if beer isn't your drink.

The brewery will be open before Duchow receives federal certification to make the beer at Sweet Mullets; however, he has a contract with a brewery in Madison to be able to craft his beer in the meantime. Duchow seems to have strong ties with his fellow brewers around the country and state, but after 20 years it was time to come home.

"It's been quite an experience, but now I want to bring it home to Oconomowoc," he said.

For your info

What: Oconomowoc native and master brewer Mark Duchow along with business partner Barbara Jones is opening Sweet Mullets

When: Between January and February

Where: N58 w39800 Industrial Road, Suite D

Info: www.sweetmulletsbrewing.com

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