Senator Baldwin visits La Crosse brewery - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Senator Baldwin visits La Crosse brewery

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Senator Tammy Baldwin and an area beer maker are working together to address the challenges facing small businesses.

Pearl Street Brewery is a local beer that can be found in almost every La Crosse bar.

Still, Brewmaster Joe Katchever says small businesses face an uphill battle.

Katchever said the La Crosse community is a huge supporter of their brew and part of the reason they are so successful.

But meeting with Senator Baldwin allows Katchever a chance to discuss the needs of craft brewers across Wisconsin.

Katchever started Pearl Street Brewery with his dad back in 1999.

"We've been kind of engrained in the community for 16 years now and that growth is really because local people like local beer and like to support our local brewery," Katchever said.

Pearl Street Brewery distributes it's beer throughout Wisconsin and in parts of Minnesota.

The two founders evolved into 15 full time employees and that is continuing to expand.

"We are going to be adding several employees this year and probably in years to come. I anticipate we will have over 20 to 30 employees in the next year to year and a half," he said.

Brittany  Brown works as an assistant brewer. "Not only am I doing this job full time, but I am also getting my masters degree in clinical micro at UW-L. This has been a great experience in terms of understanding micro biology and how it applies to industrial aspects," Brown explained.

Katchever said the craft beer industry is taking off, but that doesn't mean they are without problems.

"You know, for the last 20-25 years that craft brewing industry has grown. In Wisconsin we really haven't had a political voice and because of that we have had a lot of opposition and a lot of laws that have come up and legislation that has very much limited our ability to grow," he said.

That's is where Senator Baldwin comes in.

She was in town touring the brewery and to hear first hand from Katchever.

"You come in and can smell, we smelled the hops, we smelled the melted barley and the process, you can hear it going on all around, you get to meet employee who are engaged with this." Baldwin said.

She is a member of Congress' Small Brew Caucus established in 2007 to gain an understanding of all aspects of brewing.

"We know it is adding to our community and is a very bright spot in our future and we want to everything we can to reduce barriers to this type of economic development," Baldwin said.

"All we want to do is get some obstacles out of the way that restrict the growth of our businesses, that were specifically designed to restrict the growth of craft beer by our competition, our international competition. Foreign owned beer companies have kind of put a lot of pressure on policy makers to limit the growth of craft beer," Katchever said.

He said Baldwin is giving them a chance to be heard.

In February, Senator Baldwin also introduced the Brew Act which would allow Wisconsin craft brewers to invest over $1.5 million into their businesses each year with reduced taxes on each barrel of beer brewed.

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