Andrew Dillard's big head is filled with big dreams. The plans are currently fermenting in his garage but could hop into a microbrewery/taphouse combination in Wauwatosa.
Dillard plans on brewing his own brand of beer, named Big Head after what he was mocked for as a child: his large head. He currently has eight recipes, including beers such as Awkward Moose Maple, a name bestowed on Dillard after he accidentally knocked over a tree due to his clumsiness.
Dillard laments not being able to share craft beer with his wife, a Type 1 diabetic. So he plans to meld the flavor of craft beer with the low sugar count of light beer.
His proposed microbrewery would double as a taphouse, a bar where only beer is served, and be located adjacent to Grede Foundry, 6432 West State St.
Big obstacles for Big Head
His plans, however, face obstacles larger than finding hats for big heads or replacing fallen trees: He faces the real need of funding for his frothy endeavor.
"I have everything planned out," Dillard said. "I've been talking with fabricators of equipment and I have all the pricings for everything. I've been in contact with the landlord of the place I'm going to rent. I've ran the water analysis for what kind of water goes to that building. All the variables more or less have been taken care of but there is that one large step of getting funding needed to open this brewery."
Dillard went from bank to bank looking for a business loan. He was rejected. He went from private investor to private investor and was also rejected. Undaunted, he created an account on the website Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a "micro-pledge" website that matches investors with those looking to fund creative projects. Big Head has raised $550 of their $27,000 goal, with March 13 as their end date. Depending on the amount donated, one can receive swag including magnets, T-shirts and pint glasses.
Although Kickstarter has the potential to bring Dillard more money than a bank or private investor, raising funds through the website takes its toll: Kickstarter charges a 5 percent service fee and its payment activity is run through Amazon, which can charge from 3 to 5 percent on top of that.
Even if Kickstarter fails to give him the money he needs, it won't dissuade Dillard from chasing his hop-filled dreams.
"Last year I set a goal for myself," he said. "At Milwaukee BrewFest, I told myself that I would be there as a vendor next year. There's really nothing holding me back from pulling the trigger once I get the money I need."
Dillard is also waiting on his class-B license application to be accepted as well. He would then have to certify the license with the state of Wisconsin and the city of Wauwatosa. He feels confident in his ability to acquire the licenses, citing no alcohol violations on his record.
Finding a niche
Dillard doesn't plan to slug it out with established Milwaukee brewers such as the Milwaukee Brewing Company, Lakefront Brewery or Tyranena. He intends to sell his beer as a low-sugar, diabetic friendly libation that has more flavor than widely-distributed light beers.
To accomplish this feat, he is currently experimenting with enzymes that would break up the sugar before it is processed by the yeast. While he hasn't perfected a recipe, he's constantly experimenting in his garage.
"They make carb-free beers but it's going to be your Michelob Golden Ultras. It's not that exciting, like drinking an IPA (India Pale Ale) that's lower in carbs. You can still have that full hop flavor but it's not as bad for a diabetic."
After moving to Wauwatosa two years ago, Dillard fell in love with the area. He is intent on opening his brewery in Wauwatosa if and when he can beat the obstacles and make his big dream a big reality.
Just the Facts
WHO: Andrew Dillard
WHAT: Wants to open a Microbrewery and taphouse
WHERE: 6400 block of State Street
WHEN: He gets the money and licensing