Hop Haus Brewpub: A Sequel with Merit

Main dining room
Photograph by Sketchworks Architecture LLC

Designing a brewery from the ground up comes with no shortage of inspirations. Over a century of brewery, beer hall, and brewpub concepts aren’t just a click away, they’re open for business across the state. Add Sketchworks Architecture LLC, a local firm whose large portfolio includes several breweries and distilleries, and you get the new Hop Haus Brewpub in Fitchburg.

The building itself seeks to do two things: bridge the gap between brewery and patron to create a grain-to-glass experience, and seamlessly transition from brewpub to beer garden whether going outside or upstairs. On the former, Brad Koning, partner at Sketchworks Architecture LLC, says, “[Hop Haus owners Sara and Phil Hoechst] wanted a visual connection into the brewhouse from the taproom. So the full-height glass, no obstructions, glazed into the brewhouse looking at the equipment … wherever you’re at in the brewery or in the restaurant itself, you always have that visual connection back to the brewhouse.” Though the tap lines run through the wall directly to the cooler adjacent to the bar, the tap handles are in the foreground of one 30-barrel and six 15-barrel fermenters, reminding everyone they’re drinking just about the freshest beer they can get.

As for transitioning from industrial to natural or vice versa, patrons choose whether to enter from the beer garden or main entrance. Going through the main vestibule leads to a high open ceiling with exposed ductwork and I beams, providing the industrial feel. The walls, a turn-of-the-century, red-brick veneer, and the floor, a warm-beige concrete, stay consistent throughout the interior. Some features, like the concrete bar top, play off the natural elements of that motif.

Moving to the back of house, the seating changes from tall pub tables to traditional restaurant seating visually separated by a pony wall with reclaimed-wood siding. Natural light plays into the restaurant seating from east- and north-facing walls via two glass-paneled garage doors and corresponding entrances. The garage doors are separated at the corner by the brick veneer, and both can be opened to effectively bring the outside in.

Outside, tables are set up under slim ground-to-roof canopies to provide some protection or shade when needed. There’s also a fire pit on the patio and ample greenspace for yard games or for dogs and kids to play in.

Upstairs grants its own outdoor patio experience. Sara says, “Initially, we kind of wanted to be real industrial up top, like all steel, everything like that.” After considering the costs, Sara hoped that Sketchworks Architecture LLC could come up with something less expensive without sacrificing the element of cool in her vision.

Brad says he was focused on figuring out, “How can we design this space to feel inviting while maintaining a consistency with the building’s overall design?”

The compromise came through combining both steel and wood to create design elements more of an incorporation of the inside to the outside rather than full on trying to make things feel like the bar area downstairs. First thing people will notice when they step outside: the vinyl plank flooring, which really fits into Sara and Phil’s desire to keep everything low maintenance. Planters wall the north and east sides—once established, tall grasses and other plantings will serve as a wind barrier while further defining the space’s intimacy. The west wall has large windows looking into the brewery, and the south wall is a full bar with seating under a wood pergola and outdoor string lights.

“They really wanted [the upper patio] to be a celebration of community,” says Brad. “A space that, if it’s even in winter, they could turn on some heaters and have some of the dome igloos, trying to think about how they extend that season and provide unique spaces for their customers.”

Adding to the variety of spaces provided, a small event area, with standing room for 134 or seating for 80, is available on the ground floor and separated by another garage door. “It’s just a good space for people to rent for meetings, smaller gatherings, and that sort of thing,” says Brad. “But it still has that connection where they could expand the dining room if they really needed to.”

Hop Haus Brewpub was designed to be flexible and able to grow with Sara and Phil’s success. There’re already plans to build a stage for live music, and a large chunk of the space meant for expansion in the brewery itself, which takes up almost half of the property’s footprint, has found purpose as a canning line. For Sara and Phil, direction anticipated hasn’t always been direction taken, and thanks to Sketchworks Architecture LLC, they’ll always have a lot of freedom to adapt and adopt ideas with the evolving wants and needs of their business.

Kyle Jacobson is a senior copy editor and lead staff writer for Home Elements & Concepts.

Photographs provided by Sketchworks Architecture LLC.

Hop Haus Brewpub
2975 Sub Zero Parkway
Fitchburg, WI 53719