Goodman Community Center | Herbiery serves brews without the bitter…

Herbiery serves brews without the bitter flower

Herbiery’s taproom on Winnebago Street is a welcoming, inviting space for everyone.

October 18, 2023 |
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Nia Ryan stands next to the taps in Herbiery's taproom.
Business has been steadily increasing at Nia Ryan’s Herbiery taproom, which opened in July. Herbiery features beer brewed with a variety of herbs rather than traditional hops.

By Ivy Fan, Eastside News

Plush lavender bar stools. Warm diffuse lighting. Beer names that sound like they came straight from a slim-bound book of poetry. These may not seem like they belong in a taproom, but the Herbiery brings all this and more to the Schenk’s Corners area in a cozy space meant for all to enjoy.

Herbiery, 2015 Winnebago St., specializes in serving beer brewed without hops, a flower very traditionally used during the brewing process. While hops can add various distinct notes to beer, they have hogged the center stage when it comes to herbs used for flavor. Herbiery founder Nia Ryan wanted to introduce new combinations of herbs and roots to explore the possibilities of what beer can taste like. The result? Dreamy concoctions like Oasis Honey Chai Lager and Chamomile Raspberry Sunshine. Try the brews on tap or take a four-pack home to share.

Besides beer, the Herbiery also serves nonalcoholic drinks, a seasonally rotating mocktail and a handful of snack options. These alternative choices are just one part of an intentional choice to make the taproom a welcoming, inviting space for everyone — including those who might not usually feel welcome at a brewery: people who prefer not to drink, people who identify as queer or families with children. As Ryan, who uses the pronoun they, puts it, the space conveys that “beer culture is what we make it, and you can be part of it too.”

Ryan’s vision for the taproom extends beyond serving good drink — they also hope it can become a part of the community. Various design elements in the taproom hint at local roots — a mural based off sunset photos taken in the Arboretum and Olin Park, smooth blue countertops made by woodworkers in Cottage Grove. Every month, a local artist displays art in a mini exhibition. Herbiery’s calendar is packed with events, including weekly board game nights and monthly book clubs.

Ryan said while it’s easy to relax into the humdrum of selling and brewing beer, community engagement remains a top priority because they and many of the staff “are part of this community too.”

Looking past Madison, they hope to expand Herbiery’s horizons to the greater Midwest. While its beer can already be found in various Madison businesses, they’re looking to distribute it into Minnesota and Illinois. Eventually, the plan is to establish two more taprooms in the Twin Cities and Chicago to bring more people hops-free beer.

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