Future of Minocqua Brewing Company up in the air

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 9:45 PM CDT
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MINOCQUA, Wis. (WSAW) - The future of the Minocqua Brewing Company is being questioned after arguments between the company and the agency in control of its zoning requirements, Oneida County, have persisted for years.

Now, the county will hold a hearing next week to either amend, suspend, or revoke the business’ agreement to continue to operate.

“It’s called selective enforcement. They did it in the civil rights movement. They did it in the civil rights movement to keep people of color down. This is the same version of that. In northern Wisconsin,” said the owner of Minocqua Brewing Company Kirk Bangstad.

Bangstad said the town and county don’t like him because of his progressive political beliefs.

Since he’s been open, he’s gotten a couple of violations for things like outdoor sales and having an uncovered dumpster. In one of his permits, it says his dumpster has to be covered.

“If you go behind you right here, there are two dumpsters, and within a stone’s throw of me, there are five uncovered dumpsters. But I might get shut down next Wednesday,” said Bangstad.

This all started back in 2011 when the County told Bangstad he needed to put in seven parking spaces.

“And I agreed because I needed to have a building permit within two months in order to be open to be able to pay on a loan I had on this place. It’s a 400,000 dollar loan,” said Bangstad.

Bangstad has tried twice to get parking exemptions so he could build a beer garden. He says that without this garden they’re losing money because they can’t serve many people inside. Between 2020 and 2023, the county gave 172, with two currently still pending, exemptions to almost all businesses that asked. Except Minocqua Brewing.

“It doesn’t get much more ridiculous, vindictive, and petty than that,” said Bangstad.

On July 26 there will be a hearing in Rhinelander to discuss the future of the company. This hearing comes just one week before Oneida County was to make a decision on Bangstad’s request to build his beer garden. A request that included changes to his current agreement and why he says he’s been violating them.

“I believe they’re doing that so they don’t have to vote to have a beer garden because they know it’s illegal to stop me from having a beer garden,” said Bangstad.

If they vote to take away his permit, “They’ll have to put me in handcuffs and take me away from here,” he said.

The Minocqua Brewing Company will be holding a rally at the Minocqua Town Hall on July 22 at 2 p.m.

We reached out to the Oneida County Zoning Board Director, but he declined an interview saying he can’t talk about this issue ahead of the upcoming hearing.

This is an ongoing story.