Ale Asylum Provides a Game Changer for its Patrons

Although the creativity and promotion first and foremost goes to its beer, Madison, Wisconsin’s Ale Asylum is mixing up its food menu in the taproom to whet the appetites of its consumers.

Opened for nearly 10 years, with the last three in its new 45,000-square-foot facility, Ale Asylum has made a few upgrades to the kitchen for its staff of 10 this summer. Its dropped its pizza option while focusing on sandwiches, salads and appetizers instead.

“The crux of our business is getting the beer out of these walls,” said the brewery’s director of promotions, Hathaway Dilba. “So we decided to keep the menu non-intimidating.”

Ale Asylum only promotes its beer, the tasting room just happens to serve food, Dilba pointed out.

“It’s not going to be huge changes, but the menu this go around is great,” she said. “Our food director is very creative and he is a huge beer connoisseur. He created a new menu to answer our fans’ diverse range of palates and dietary needs.”

ale asylum

Obviously, word-of-mouth of some of the well-crafted and vegan-friendly menu options may bring in those just looking for food, but Dilba added that Ale Asylum makes a conscious effort to not take away lunch or dinner business from the local restaurants in its neighborhood.

“We wanted to offer food but we didn’t want to be a brewpub,” Dilba said of the thought process of creating a tasting room, “at the end of the day we are a brewery.”

The beer is pretty sought after itself.

Only distributed through Wisconsin and into Illinois, Ale Asylum produced nearly 23,000 barrels in 2015, up more than 13 percent from 2014. The addition of a taproom in the new facility was made for a need to give people something to put in their stomachs — more than just beer. It contracted a pizza maker to create crust with Ale Asylum’s beer and construct the pizzas off-site to be delivered every morning. That has been switched to a vegan Banh Mi, vegan Sloppy Joes, a chicken Cuban sandwich and adult grilled cheese on the menu, along with appetizers such as duck poppers and grilled flatbreads in the 8,000-square-foot tasting room.

“We don’t point people too heavily into the tasting room and we have found by word of mouth our business has grown to even having a large capacity on what should be a slow night,” Dilba said. “People like to be in the space. So we reached a decision after loving up to the establishments around us that carry our beer, by doing releases at their places and advertising their places with our beer.”

Expansion in production and styles is on Ale Asylum’s mind as the production facility it is in can house a capacity of nearly 40,000 bbls. Lagering and barrel aging is next on the list of things to add to its repertoire along with many more pilot beers available only in the taproom.
“[Consumers] love having that secret experience of being able to come in a try something they can’t get anywhere else in Wisconsin for Illinois,” Dilba said.

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