Whether beer-drinkers first encounter a bottle of Furthermore beer behind the bar at The River Horse in Riverwest or on the shelves at Outpost Natural Foods, one thing’s for sure: They’re not likely to forget it. The Wisconsin company has been around for three years and its beers have been trickling through Milwaukee for nearly two, but its “ready, fire, aim” philosophy of brewing beer and bringing it to the masses is as novel as ever.
Some initially choose Furthermore not for the beer inside the bottles but to get a closer look at the labels, which resemble vintage propaganda posters. For others, the sheer mystery of how quirky recipes make such tasty beer brings them back to the bottle again and again. One of these unconventional combinations of ingredients is found in Furthermore’s Knot Stock, a pale ale that pairs freshly cracked black pepper with the bittering power of Northern Brewer hops.
“We were looking to do something different with this beer while keeping it really balanced, drinkable, and fun,” says Aran Madden, Furthermore’s head brewer. “We came up with something that plays with your flavor perception, making you wonder what’s more striking: the hops or the pepper.”
Peppering a pale ale is just the beginning, though. Furthermore’s been adding all sorts of zany ingredients to its beer recipes of late. Its Fallen Apple beer teams the tartness of fresh apples with the sweetness of cream ale. For this seasonal brew, the two-man company ships 250-gallon vats of fresh-pressed apple cider directly to its Black River Falls brewing facilities from Kickapoo Orchard, a family-owned apple farm in Gays Mills, Wis.
The sugar is extracted from the brew as the fruit ferments, leaving behind a tangy sour-apple note. Then a more mellow sweetness is introduced using lactose, a component of the cream ale. The result is an earthy, balanced beer with a surprisingly tart kick. “It’s very light, like champagne,” says Chris Staples, the other half of the Furthermore operation. “In fact, Aran used it in lieu of champagne for the toast at his wedding. Plus, it’s a little different each year because it depends on the apple harvest.”
Beyond creative pairings in the recipe themselves, the beers’ distinctive flavors stem from the brewing process, which is unconventional to say the least. Each Furthermore brew is crafted in small batches, typically five gallons—a micro scale even for a microbrewery. Some call this approach upside-down, some call it inside-out, but Staples and Madden simply call it “back-asswards.”
“We do test-batching on a 5-gallon scale to hone in on our recipes, to figure out what we can offer that’s not already on the shelf,” says Madden. “Yes, it’s a little back-asswards, but that’s just who we are. We like hearing people say, ‘What the heck? This stuff is really good.’”