Keeping the local economy running: Getting the small business brews

By Dan Kontos

In a free market system such as ours, the general uninhibited trade in goods and services drives our economy and makes the United States the greatest economic powerhouse in the world. In Central Wisconsin, including the Stevens Point Micropolitan Area, this is no less true.

I’ve never really liked the term capitalists, which was developed by free market-hating socialists. I prefer to associate the free marketplace with the ideals of liberty and freedom; the freedom to exchange the fruits of my labor in exchange for goods and services that I want.

But this is not a column on sociopolitical economics. Lighten-up Frances. This is about something much closer to my heart. That is—businesses that make my life better while supporting our local economy and employing our citizens.

Starting today, I will be periodically introducing you to some of the best small businesses in our community. These are not advertisements. There is no coordination or collusion (Russian or otherwise) with these establishments. These are simply one man’s honest assessments of local entrepreneurial heroes that are dotted across the area, bringing honest goods and services for an honest price. 

I offer them to you in no particular order, but I can’t think of a better way to kick off this new column set than with one of my favorite places to eat, drink, and hang out. That is Mr. Brews Taphouse.

Inconspicuously nestled in a non-descript-looking strip mall in the village of Plover along County Hwy. HH, Mr. Brews is primarily a burger place with, as you would suspect, a wide variety of adult (and other) beverages for you to enjoy. The family-friendly and casual atmosphere adds to the sense of relaxation and celebration as you walk in the door. No ties required.

Several televisions surround you with a variety of shows, usually featuring popular sporting events. The music is chosen daily by the staff, so it can fluctuate from classic rock, reggae, country, and stuff that honestly I’ve never heard of before. It’s fun and keeps things different.

With 48 different beverages on tap, primarily consisting of both local and not-so-local craft beers, as well as sours, nitros, and more, you are sure to find something you like. They even keep some big brewery choices there as well, but they are inconspicuously concealed below the counter, so as not to raise too many eyebrows. Now that’s some diversity and inclusion that I can get into.

Not into beer? Mr. Brews also offers a small selection of basic cocktails, starting with the concoction of the month (my term, not theirs), as well as staples such as bourbon, Bloody Marys, wine, soft drinks, and more. Their beer stock rotates periodically, and can be found on their website, or followed using the Untappd app on your smartphone. Honestly, you’ll want to refer to the current beer menu that they keep updated, and at every table.

Feeling hungry? If you are looking for a gourmet selection of goose pâté de foie gras or some chilled bowfin caviar, then this ain’t the place for you. Yes, I just said ain’t. Lighten-up Frances.

Mr. Brews sports a selection of mouthwatering craft burgers, such as the Bacon Mac N Cheeze Burger, Brews-Chetta Burger (the puns are free), or my favorite, the Rajun Cajun Burger. With half a dozen more, if you don’t find something you like, you can always go with the All-American Cheeseburger and customize it the way you want. They sometimes will have a burger of the month that they create as well, so the variety is always there.

Looking for a chicken or pulled pork sandwich instead, or maybe some chicken tenders, a salad, or some kid-friendly meals? They have them too.

Of course, they also host a variety of appetizers as you would expect, such as wings, poppers, pretzels, and chili. Their assortment of fries and chips can either round out a great burger or stand alone as a snack too. You can customize them with a variety of seasonings, as well.

Their menu is not overly extensive, I suspect so they can concentrate on excelling at a few things and bringing your food out to you quickly. You can see an abbreviated version here, but the in-house menu is a bit more detailed and expansive.

One of the best features of Mr. Brews is the laid-back atmosphere. During the summer months, they also sport outdoor seating, which is even open for your well-mannered dog to accompany you.

The waitstaff is simply outstanding. They are friendly, attentive, knowledgeable, and accommodating. They help to make your visit as enjoyable as possible, and always remember a friendly face.

For value, atmosphere, variety, and quality, I give Mr. Brews a four out of four. “Four stars” is kind of boring, so perhaps “four out of four pints.” I’m going to have to work on that. Anyway, I highly recommend them to you—and frequent them often, myself.

So, with that, let’s support great local businesses, then meet in the opinion section (or at Mr. Brews) to talk about all of it, boldly, honestly, and with a healthy respect for each other. Until then, God bless.