By Craig Mandli (Editor)
'SHORTY' IS BACK IN TOWN
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.
Star Journal photo by Craig Mandli
Rhinelander Brewing Company President/Owner Jyoti Auluck, left, and Rhinelander Mayor Dick Johns toast with "Shorty" bottles of Rhinelander Export Beer during the official unveiling party for the new product Wedneseday evening at the Claridge Clubhouse.