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The idea of opening their own craft brewery had kicked around in the minds and hearts of Andy and Angie Molina, owners of Racine Brewing Company, for a number of years. The Racine couple had followed the thinking of many a home brewer who thought it was time to take their beers to market.

But the Molinas got a kegful of encouragement last year at Belle City Brewfest. Angie’s Enchanted Forest IPA was an award winner in the home brew competition. Andy’s Afternoon Delight Saison, while not capturing an award, did collect repeat samplings.

“Afternoon Delight and Enchanted Forest were the two biggest inspirations (to opening the brewery),” said Andy. “We brought both of those to Belle City Brewfest last year. Angie took second place and I didn’t place at all with Afternoon Delight. But people kept coming back for more. People told us it was their favorite at the festival.

“She had half a keg left when we got home. And I only had a couple beers left in mine.”

That experience proved to be the impetus the Molinas needed to dust off their ideas and plans for a brewery of their own. A winter of work, planning, preparation and construction led to the opening of Racine Brewing Company in March. The brewing facility and taproom are at 303 Main St., which puts the Molinas at ground zero for downtown traffic, activities and events.

For anyone who starts a business, however, there comes that moment when it feels like stepping off a cliff. “I wanted to do something I loved,” explained Andy. “Angie one day asked me if I loved my job.”

Andy was a machine operator at InSinkErator, which he described as a job, but not his life’s goal. “It wasn’t a bad job, but it wasn’t my dream job, that’s for sure,” he said.

Toured the state

“We both love beer,” said Angie. “We both love making beer. We’d toured the state and visited craft breweries. We loved the the feel of them. And we loved seeing how small breweries were affecting their communities. We loved their camaraderie. It’s always a positive atmosphere.

“A brewery in Lake Mills has always been my inspiration. They are a little town that’s tight knit community. You can bring in your dog and your kids. It was a family oriented place and real positive atmosphere.”

Angie expanded on that notion of the RBC website: “Taking brewery tours around the Midwest we saw the wonderful energy, jobs being created, and positivity that craft brewing was bringing to local communities. Andy and I just knew we had to bring this to Racine.”

“The best part is that people get to come in and enjoy what we make,” said Andy. “So far we have heard mostly good things from people. Beer is an acquired taste and people usually develop a taste for one style of beer. We might not always have that style, but we can usually find a beer someone can enjoy.”

Added Angie: “As far as trendy beer styles go, we (pay attention) to those. But mostly we try to make traditional American styles, but push the envelope. We strive to have a menu where everybody can find something that they like.

“If you don’t drink beer, we make our own soda. We’ve had a real positive response to that, too.”

With summer about to move into high gear, Racine Brewing Company is a planning events and offerings to keep people coming through the door. Live music and comedy shows are on tap, so to speak.

Rex Davenport

Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.