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Southern Wisconsin brewers successful.

The nation's beer industry may be suffering after-effects of a light business year in 1991, but two southern Wisconsin brewers report profits are up.

In Monroe, the Joseph Huber Brewing Co. turned its first profit since Fred Huber regained control of the company three years ago, racking up a 22-percent increase in sales.

Meanwhile, Capital Brewery in Middleton registered its first profitable six-month period ever during the second half of 1991.

The beer industry nationally experienced a 2.2-percent drop in production in 1991. Huber saw its production rise from 82,000 barrels in 1990 to 100,000 in 1991.

Huber's boost came from a deal it made in October with the Compania Cerveceria Victoria brewery in Nicaragua.

What began as an agreement to produce the Cerveza Victoria Premium label has blossomed into a three-product line that Fred Huber, company president, said "has really become a phenomenon for us."

Huber suggested a light version of the label, and together the two brands have sold surprisingly well. Now a third brew, a dark beer that will carry the label La Morena, is set to be introduced next month.

"I never dreamed they would be so accepted in Nicaragua," Huber said. In the month of December alone, sales quadrupled to reach 12,000 cases per day. By month's end all stock sold out. "They couldn't believe it," Huber said. "I couldn't believe it."

Meanwhile, Huber, whose flagship beer is Berghoff, will start making an American version of Andechs, which is currently brewed by Benedictine monks southwest of Munich.

In the United States, Huber has reintroduced the Old Chicago label in Chicago and is shipping it to Britain, Paraguay and Argentina, Huber said.

The Monroe brewery has also started bottling Mystic, a juice-flavored mineral water.

As a result, the company, which operated at a loss in 1990, had a five-percent profit last year and added 11 jobs at the brewery, bringing the workforce to 48.

Since June 1, Capital Brewery has shown a 5.6-percent profit.

"It's the first time this brewery has ever achieved profit," said company president Rich Lingk.

Production of Capital's products dipped slightly last year - 4,200 barrels in 1990 to about 4,000 in 1991. But a price hike made those sales, which rebounded from a slow start and climbed dramatically at the end of the year, more profitable.

The brewery also began making lager for the Milwaukee brewer Sprecher, adding 800 barrels to production.

Brewmaster Kirby Nelson said that by December the operation was running at double the normal pace.

"Now we have to build on our success," Nelson said. "Frankly, now is when the work starts."
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Title Annotation:Huber Brewing Co., Capital Brewery Co. Inc.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Feb 3, 1992
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