What's Brewing? Making History at the Point Brewery

By: John DesRivieres
By: John DesRivieres

You may not know it, but NorthCentral Wisconsin is home to one of the oldest breweries in the country.

The Point Brewery, located at the corner of Beer and Water Streets in Stevens Point, is the 5th oldest continuously operating brewery in the nation.

The Point Brewery was founded in 1857. That's one year before the city was founded.

Operations Director Art Oksuita, who has worked at the brewery for 31 years, says he's seen a lot of changes over the years. "We've added equipment, we've added tanks. A lot of our equipment was just brought up to modern technology," says Oksuita.

But one thing that hasn't changed is the commitment to quality. Every drop of Point Brew is made in Stevens Point. Only 15 people are employed at the brewery. They make 70,000 barrels of beer a year, which isn't much in comparison to bigger brewers. "What we make in a year," says Brewmaster John Zappa,"over in Milwaukee or St. Louis they make in two days."

Despite the small workforce, Point Beer is distributed all over the midwest, the east coast, and even in some southern markets. Their customer base is expanding. "We have actually a great following. We are expanding slowly. I guess I want to emphasize slowly," says Oksuita.

With the competition like Miller and Budweiser--and new microbreweries popping up everyday, Point Brewery stays at the cutting edge of beer production. "Part of our success over the years is commitment by ownership, commitment by employees to fulfill what the customers need," says Zappa.

But they continue to stick with what works. Point Special is still their best seller. Its a recipe that may keep them in business for another 150 years.

You can witness the history for yourself. The brewery hosts tours Monday-Saturday. The cost is $3.00 for people 12 and older.

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