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Jyoti Auluck was having trouble holding back her smile Wednesday as a dream more than two years in the making came much closer to fruition. Auluck, the President/ Owner of Rhinelander Brewing Company, served as the Master of Ceremonies for a party unveiling her company's Rhinelander Export Lager "Shorty" (7 oz) bottle back to the open market.
According to Auluck, the project took more than two years of hard and often frustrating work to complete requiring a sizeable capital investment, including creating brand new molds for the Shorty style bottle,creating a retro label design, equipping Monroe-based Minhas Craft Brewery to package the unusually shaped Shorty bottle, and most importantly, working diligently to perfecting the recipe and creating the taste of the original Rhinelander Shorty beer.
"Really all we had to start with was the name," said Auluck. "We pretty much had to create everything else from scratch." Auluck, who has a background in finance and retail beverage sales, said she decided to purchase the historic Rhinelander brand due to its untapped potential in the beer market. She said that while the sagging economy has hindered business expansion, the recent popularity of "Retro brews" such as Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon has positioned Rhinelander's namesake brew to once again go toe-to-toe with the products that were once its major competitors.
"Retro brands are making a huge comeback in the beer market right now," said Auluck. "The older generations want to remember the beers that they drank when they were younger, and the younger generations are looking for something different. I'm very optimistic about the future of this brand." Auluck said she plans to actively promote and market the Rhinelander brand, and hopes to increase sales volume to the point where opening a Rhinelander Brewing Company brewery in the city will make sense.
"We need to brew 30,000 barrels annually to justify building a brewery in Rhinelander," explained Auluck. "Right now we are at 4,000 barrels, but that number is increasing every day. I truly believe that this brand has the potential to produce those numbers, and we'll be breaking ground on a brewery within the next few years."
According to Auluck, the initial response throughout Wisconsin has been nothing short of amazing. She said almost every retail store and tavern in and around Rhinelander is selling the Rhinelander Shorty Export Lager. In fact, the first batch out of production sold out in a matter of weeks, with the second batch hitting store shelves last week. "People have just loved the product so far," said Auluck. "We were very careful to use the original recipe that people remember from when it was brewed in Rhinelander."
While the Shorty is new to the market, Auluck has been marketing kegs of Rhinelander Export Lager for the past year. There have already been more than 100 placements of the beer in Madison, Milwaukee and other parts of the state of Wisconsin, with orders received from as far as Auluck's home country, Canada. Auluck recently hired a marketing manager, Brenda O'Rourke, who will be working out of an office located at 59 South Brown St. in downtown Rhinelander.
"I feel that it is very important that Rhinelander Export Lager have a presence in the city," said Auluck. "If we are going to succeed in launching this brand worldwide, everyone in Rhinelander will have to take pride in it." While Rhinelander Beer has always been on the market, it hasn't been produced in Rhinelander since the historic Rhinelander Brewery closed its Ocala Road plant in 1967, following a 85 year run. The Joseph Huber Brewing Company purchased the Rhinelander brands as well as their recipes, which they soon changed. Despite a precipitous drop in sales volume, the beer has been continuously produced in Monroe for the last 42 years.




By Robin Shepard

Rhinelander "Shorty" bottles haven't been available on local for nearly three decades, but the Monroe-based Minhas Craft Brewery is bringing them back this summer, hoping to find success in the trend toward nostalgia among younger beer drinkers. The 7-ounce bottles actually had the word "Shorty" stamped on the neck.

"They were the most popular Rhinelander product," says Minhas president Gary Olson. The brand was so popular in the 1940s that one of the town's local baseball teams went by the name Rhinelander Shorties.

Minhas recently contracted with the brand's owner, Jyoti Auluck, a native of Calgary, Alberta, to help bring back Rhinelander Export in these distinctive small bottles. Auluck purchased the Rhinelander family of beers from Minhas in 2009. She has since opened a downtown Rhinelander office while working to reintroduce Rhinelander Export and Light.

"After looking at beer trends and retro brands, I thought it would be great to bring back the beer that started the entire stubby bottle," says Auluck. A few of the other well-known Wisconsin breweries that used the 7-ounce bottles in the 1940s included former breweries like Fauerbach in Madison, Fox Head in Waukesha, and Walter's in Eau Claire, which bottled "Little Wallies."

Rhinelander beer was made in its namesake city of central Wisconsin. The brewery operated from 1882 to 1967, with the exception of a major fire in the 1890s and during Prohibition. At its peak, the brewery turned out about 40,000 barrels annually.

Rhinelander Shorty was introduced by the brewery in 1940 with a provocative ad campaign that called attention to its arrival via the birth announcements in the society pages of the local newspaper. For several weeks, Rhinelander society was captivated over who might be the unnamed father of little Shorty. By the time the brewery revealed that it was the father and mother, and little Shorty was a beer, the community was buzzing (so to speak).

In the 1960s, industry competition and consolidation contributed to the brewery's closure, and the Joseph Huber Brewery of Monroe (now Minhas) acquired the brands. It kept the beer, even Shorty, in production. Olson believes the last time the smaller bottles were used for Rhinelander beer was in the late 1970s.

Despite abandoning the 7-ounce bottles, Monroe Brewery (and later Minhas) continued making Rhinelander beer until just a few years ago. As recently as 2003, the brewery was offering it in returnable 12-ounce bottles. It even made a brief appearance in 12-ounce cans in 2009.

Olson says the new Rhinelander Export, to be re-released in short stubby bottles, is based on the original 1940s beer, which he describes as a crisp, light-bodied, American lager with yellow-golden color and light hoppiness. The beer takes about three weeks to make, and its alcohol content ends up at around 5% ABV. The term "export" was traditionally applied to strong beers that were intended to be shipped, and in some countries, like Germany, use of the term designated how it was to be taxed.

Rhinelander Shorty will initially be available in 24-bottle cases. Depending on the success of this reintroduction, Minhas may then package it in even more distinctive eight-bottle cartons.

Such small bottles present more than just a small challenge for Olson. Minhas has had to install a different filler and capper and modify the labeler, all of which has slowed the brewery's release plans by several months. Finding the right bottles was also no small task. Olson approached U.S. companies as well as manufacturers as far away as Trinidad and Egypt before finding what he needed through connections in China. The original bottle shape and painted label are different from the new Rhinelander Shorty, which is affixed with an old-school paper label.

Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz, with their retro-focused marketing campaigns, seem to have found a following with younger drinkers over the last decade that has allowed them to avoid beer extinction. Auluck is betting on the same excitement over her new Rhinelander Shorty. She even has a goal of building her own brewery in Rhinelander by 2014.

Rhinelander Shorty is expected on Madison shelves in June and will sell for $14-$15 per case. General Beverage of Madison will handle local distribution.



By Joe VanDeLaarschot
Managing Editor

If you are thirsty for the return of the old Rhinelander Beer "Shorty" you'll just have to hang on a little bit longer.

The president of the Rhinelander Brewing Company, which had acquired the Rhinelander and Rhinelander Light Beer brands in October 2009, had hoped to have the "Shorty" bottles of the Rhinelander beer rushing off the assembly line by now, but technical problems in the bottling system have caused a delay.

"We've got the beer, we've got the Shorty bottles, but we have to work out the kinks in the bottling and assembly line system," said Rhinelander Brewing Company President Jyoti Auluck. "The 7-ounce Shorty bottles are much different than the typical other bottles that are used for other beers so we have to adapt equipment and technology to fill, cap and move the bottles down the assembly line. It's just taking us a little more time than we had expected."

The beer will be initially brewed and packaged at the Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, but it's hoped once sales for the return of the Rhinelander brand increase that a brewing operation will be built again in Rhinelander.

Auluck said it's been her dream to launch a successful comeback of the long-time local favorite beer.

Before the comeback could be launched many actions had to be completed behind the scenes. That included developing packaging, the labeling for the bottles and the creation of thousands of the 7-ounce Shorty bottles that had disappeared long ago and needed to be recreated.

Rhinelander Lager and Rhinelander Light brands were long produced at the famous and historic Rhinelander Brewery on Ocala Street in Rhinelander, which opened under the business partnership of Otto Hilgermann and Henry Danner in 1882.

Financial difficulties finally led to the brewery's closing in 1967.

That same year, the Joseph Huber Brewing Company purchased the Rhinelander brands as well as their recipes and other assets and immediately started producing them in Monroe, where they have been brewed for the last 42 years.

Auluck, who has an accounting background and extensive experience in the retail beverage industry, feels the historic Rhinelander brand has a lot of untapped potential.

She plans to actively promote and market the Rhinelander brand and hopes to increase sales volume back to what it was in its heyday.

At its peak, the Rhinelander Brewery had an annual capacity of 40,000 barrels.

"For a beer that isn't even marketed, it still has market share," Auluck said of the Rhinelander brand. "It has history and it still has legs of its own. It is just working on its own, and I like that about it."

When Rhinelander was still brewed in its hometown, it enjoyed a loyal following among local drinkers in much the same way local sports teams enjoy the loyalty of hometown fans. Auluck said re-establishing the brand in its namesake city will be a key component of its future success.

"It's important to start it here because it has history here. It's a home brand," she said. "I want to get it back in the hometown."

The Rhinelander Brewery was once among the most prominent local breweries in the country. At a time when small breweries dotted the landscape, Rhinelander stood out with its aggressive marketing and inventiveness. The company patented the 7-ounce "Shorty" bottle and advertised the product heavily, with great success.

Rhinelander Brewing Company has an office located at 59 South Brown Street in downtown Rhinelander. The offices are empty at this time, but the location is expected to see plenty of activity once Rhinelander Beer returns to the market. Currently all business related to the reintroduction of the beer is being conducted out of the brewery in Monroe.

Beer on tap


Rhinelander: Tuesday, May 31, 2011: The beer that started the entire stubby beer bottle craze is back! Rhinelander Export Lager in a Shorty (7 oz) bottle is back on the market, The project took 2 years to complete requiring a sizeable capital investment, including creating brand new molds for the Shorty style bottle, creating a retro label design, equipping the Brewery to package the unusually shaped Shorty bottle and most importantly, working diligently to perfect the recipe and creating the taste of the original Rhinelander Shorty beer.

The Rhinelander Shorty launch is taking place in Rhinelander on Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Festivities planned include a noon hour business address by the President of the Rhinelander Brewing Company, a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4 PM as well as a special launch party in the evening at the Best Western Claridge Hotel titled "Welcome Home Shorty Party". Even the famous Rhinelander Shorty Baseball Team Uniform from the 40's is expected to show up at the events! This party has been 40 years in the making since the sale of the Rhinelander Shorty was halted.

The initial response throughout Wisconsin has been nothing short of amazing. Almost every retail store and bar in and around Rhinelander is selling the Rhinelander Shorty Export Lager. In fact, the first batch of production is already sold out. The second batch is being packaged on May 31, with a strong media presence recording the event. There has already been more than 100 placements of Rhienlander Shorty in Madison, Rhinelander and other parts of the state of Wisconsin. Orders have also been received from as far as Canada – particularly Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where the Rhinelander Shorty will be available within the next 3 weeks – as soon the next batch can be produced to meet the surging demand for the beer and when the Government approvals for Rhinelander Shorty in Canada have been obtained.

With the summer beer season upon us, we are reminded of an anonymous Czech proverb "A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it's better to be thoroughly sure." The Shorty is sure to fit the bill and satisfy the demanding and knowledgeable beer drinker.

BACKGROUND: The historic Rhinelander Brewery produced Rhinelander Export Lager at its brewery located at 1 Ocola Road in Rhinelander from 1882 to 1967 when it was closed, just like hundreds of Breweries closed with the advent of multi national mega breweries. For many decades, Rhinelander Shorty was one of the most successful reginal brands sold in the Midwest including Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and of course, Wisconsin.

For interviews, photographs, samples or further information, please contact:

Dennis Rego, 
General Manager, 
Rhinelander Brewing Company LLC. 

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