By Rick Pedersen – “Ahoy me hearties” and gather round while I spin the tail of Skeleton Crew Brew. It’s a hideaway containing the most excellent ale, a buccaneer can get his hands on, along with as many fine wines a lad or lass dares to ever dream of drinking.
One evening, a Swashbuckler named Todd and the beautiful lass he married named Jennifer, were sitting in their backyard enjoying spirits at their tiki bar. They discussed dreams of producing their own elixirs for others to imbibe in. T’was often wondered if they would be able to accumulate enough doubloons to afford the life and dreams of visions that danced in their heads. It was then that they decided to embark on the daring adventure and set sail to pursue their long journey.
The couple had experimented in creating some home-brewing wines of their own and did a particular batch for a family member’s wedding. The idea went well, and soon some other friends asked if they could perform the same miracle the following year for a wedding they had planned. These early dreams and passions manifested in moving to Onalaska, Wisconsin, and starting Lost Island Wine. The name was to honor the times they spent in the backyard tiki bar at their home near Port Edwards, Wisconsin. That initial project was widely accepted and went very well. Based on the fact, there only being two of them as a skeleton crew in this endeavor, it was a logical name to choose Skeleton Crew Brew when they decided to start making beer.
When I visited this establishment, I was pleasantly surprised at the passion that has gone into this undertaking. Although the current operation may appear as a small building, the amount and flavors of the wine being produced were very impressive. Equally impressive are the beers being produced which are quickly consumed by the brand followers almost as fast as they are being created. When the time comes to partake of these magical elixirs, I must say that they will “shiver your timbers.”
Todd and Jennifer have genuinely found their marketing niche in this casual and lighthearted, friendly atmosphere that they have created. With wines such as Watermelon Wharf and Beach Bum, you surely can’t go wrong. I would be a scallywag shirking my duties to not point out that beers such as Six Foot Plank New England DIPA and Swab The Deck Saison are not to be missed. As visitors cautiously sail back to their local campgrounds, they may also find repose in products like Mosquito Moscato to pass an enjoyable evening of scuttlebutt around the campfire. One will not be disappointed if he manages to plunder any of the drinks found in their lair at Lost Island Wines.
On a serious note, one of the things I like best about many of these winery and brewery operations during my travels, is they are all very community-minded.
Skeleton Crew Brew is not an exception when it comes to supporting the local projects and economy.
One project that is exceptionally close to the hearts of Jennifer and Todd is Riah’s Rainbow. Each year the winery raises money to supply coloring books and crayon packets to the local hospitals in honor of the Riah’s Rainbow Organization. It is the whole idea that this will bring some comfort to children during their hospital stay. The ultimate goal is to bring smiles to the faces of children who have to endure a day, a week, or even months in the hospital. This mission helps give pediatric patients at local hospitals, new coloring books, crayons, markers, colored pencils, and craft items. With each visit, they receive a new coloring book and box of crayons that they may take home. Paints, project bags, or puzzles, are also given as alternatives. Many times, cancer patients are offered community craft items. With compromised immune systems, the threat is always there that the child may develop an illness. Riah’s Rainbow eliminates that fear for parents.
The couple also supports other local charities, veteran organizations, and fundraising events. They’re very appreciative of the local community supporting their business, and very willing to help others. I’m always very impressed as I travel and meet such humble and giving owners that are so freely willing to support their local communities.
During the recent changes to our lives, many people and businesses sailed into uncharted waters during these times of uncertainty. Fortunately, this crew has braved the tough seas, and is now floating in much more calm waters. Each person must make the best safety and health choices for themselves and their family. Every business has rules that must be followed, as well as additional safety precautions implemented to maintain protection for all employees and customers.
A casual bar and seating area indoors allows for distancing from others while sampling the drinks, while a beautifully landscaped patio area enables one to enjoy the evening sunset after a long voyage.
I have no doubt this very experienced, and seaworthy crew will weather all storms and enjoy many years of great adventures as they expand to new horizons. May their sails always full, and the seas still calm, while their ship remains solid as a rock to carry them on their way.
Someday, they may harbor their boat on a beautiful dock, on a Lost Island, while truly finding the paradise they had always dreamed of.
Best of luck to Todd and Jennifer in all you do through all your adventures.