MobCraft’s Unique Business Strategy Finds a Home

Henry Schwartz, one of the founders of the MobCraft beer concept, has stuck to his guns since debuting his team’s idea of a new way to make money in the craft beer world. The result has been successful enough that by the end of this year, it will have a brick and mortar building in an up-and-coming area of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Using a similar concept such as Kickstarter, MobCraft uses crowdsourcing to come up with beer ideas each month. Sales include shipping through most of the U.S., local pick-up in Wisconsin or some distribution throughout the state.

“It’s a crazy beer world and there’s so much fun stuff going on, but one part we have going on is taking people’s ideas and turning them into beer,” Schwartz told Brewer Magazine right after having a chat with a few consumers during the Milwaukee stop of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America festival this past weekend. “That’s not known anywhere and it’s so much fun to tell people it could have been their idea  brewed and distributed across the U.S.”

Letting the public give either ideas or straight up recipes each month, MobCraft lets people vote with their credit cards for a three-week period. The monthly winner gets made and anyone over 21 can buy bombers in a four-pack. The beer can either be picked up locally or else shipped to all but nine states in the U.S. The beers are also distributed to most of Wisconsin as well.

So far, 34 batches have been made this way while Schwartz and his crew also work on blended sours and barrel-aged beers for creations not sent in by the public.

“Someone was dicking with us and had us brew a durian beer (the world’s stinkiest fruit), they put a lot of coin in the jar, got it to win and we had to figure out how to brew a beer with it and make it good,” Schwartz recalled.

After some research, Schwartz found a yeast (Saflager W-34/70) to kick off that sulfur/rotting flesh smell while using durian. To kill the sulfur from the fruit, they volatilized it and was able to get a mango/tropical taste to make it into a fruit Pilsner called “Don Durio’s Filthy Mustachio.”


“It’s fun to tackle what people give us,” Schwartz said.

Soon patrons can sip on many of the crowdsourced creations when MobCraft opens later this summer.

“We have found a great spot in a vibrant community and it’s on a great corner,” Schwartz said of the new space that is two blocks from some of Milwaukee’s original breweries from the 1800s.

“We found old bottles from the late 1800s and early 1900s, like Schlitz and Blatz, while we were excavating to put in the drains,” he said.

Since opening as a tenant brewer with Madison, Wisconsin’s The House of Brews brewery two and a half years ago with one seven-barrel fermentor, MobCraft has grown into a phenomenon that hit a major peak in popularity thanks to Schwartz’s steadfastness to wanting to build a brewery while getting rejected from the five-person panel on ABC’s “Shark Tank” show on March 11.

One of the “sharks,” Canadian businessman and SoftKey Software Products founder Kevin O’Leary, told Schwartz he could make millions if he continued on the path using other people’s breweries and not opening his own.

Schwartz declined to change his thought process and the appearance helped MobCraft’s online traffic to soar, from about 400 hits a day to more than 17,000. Since that first surge, the website’s traffic is still up about fourfold.

Schwartz agrees that he and other new brewers to the area are helping with what could be a renaissance of beer as Milwaukee will see an influx of new breweries opening this summer.

A new “Milwaukee Craft Beer League” has been formed and Schwartz pointed out that Milwaukee is a triangle of beer that includes breweries from as far back as the 1800s, a first-wave of craft beer from the 80s and a slew of new breweries either just opening or about to this year.

“Milwaukee is a city that doesn’t exist anywhere else,” he said when he noted the three sides of beer. “Some beer nerds have some intrigue of how this happened and seeing wooden kegs and getting the history makes this a great city to come to.”

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