Mixing it up

Co-Owner Zach Johnson pours a mixed drink inside Town Square Tap. Joe Schulz photo

by Joe Schulz

Eight years ago, Zach Frazier was brewing beer inside his home in Minnesota.

Today, he co-owns a taproom in the heart of downtown Green Lake.

The taproom is located inside of the old Town Square garage and is connected to Mill Pond Terrace via glass garage doors.

The beer garden opened Wednesday, June 26, almost a week before Mill Pond Terrace’s grand opening.

Town Square Tap features Fox Tale’s non-alcoholic Genuine Craft Ginger Beer and serves alcoholic drinks such as mules, shandies and local craft beers.

On Fridays and Saturdays, the beer garden features live music and food stands.

In addition to bar operations, Town Square Tap will collaborate with Town Square to host weddings, plan events and bring festivals to the area.

Frazier began brewing beer when he purchased a house with hops plants in 2011.

“I enjoy brewing beer even to this day, but I also enjoy spending time with my family,” he said.

Frazier’s desire to be a family man lead him to begin experimenting with brewing sodas at home.

Soon after he began brewing soda, Frazier realized, “If you actually brew sodas, the product you get is measurably better than the sodas based on extracts.”

He continued to research home-brewed sodas when he stumbled upon the story of ginger beer.

According to Frazier, before the Great Depression ginger beer was America’s favorite soda.

After learning the history of ginger beer, Frazier knew it was the product he wanted to brew.

“It took several years of brewing and refining that recipe to get us to a point where we’re ready to actually make this a reality,” he said.

In the midst of refining the recipe, Frazier lost his job. Soon afterwards, he came to Wisconsin and fell in love with Green Lake.

“I really liked what [Town Square was] trying to do in terms of revitalizing the community; taking something that was old and making it new,” he said. “Ginger beer really fit that model.”

In 2018, Frazier began brewing his ginger beer in Town Square’s commercial kitchen and began selling it at the Oshkosh and Green Lake farmers markets.

Soon afterward, he learned about the development of Mill Pond Terrace and simultaneously came up with the idea for Town Square Tap with Fox Tail Co-Owner Zach Johnson.

“Ultimately, I’d come to the point in my business where I realized the way for most breweries to be profitable is not through distribution,” Frazier said. “In fact, that’s a very difficult way to become profitable; most of your profits do need to come from a taproom.”

Frazier and Johnson pitched the idea of a taproom connected to Mill Pond Terrace to Town Square and came to an agreement, where Town Square essentially serves as a landlord for the beer garden.

TOWN SQUARE TAP features outdoor relaxation. Phil Burkart photo

After pitching the idea to Town Square, the duo realized the business had to be something more than just a bar.

“We have a responsibility to Town Square and the community to really develop it in a responsible, community-focused manner,” Frazier said. “Our job was to grow both the economic and social pie [in Green Lake].”

Frazier noted collaboration is key for Town Square Tap, as they work with local businesses to supply food for patrons.

Businesses such as Goose Blind Grill & Bar deliver food to the terrace, until the taproom gains its restaurant certification.

Frazier and Johnson have adopted a “blue ocean” business model, where they try to sell their ginger beer in markets with little to no competition.

“There’s an opportunity to create value that’s never been there before,” Frazier said of the strategy.

He noted the ultimate goal for Town Square Tap is to penetrate Google’s list of things to do in Green Lake.

Since opening in June, Frazier noted the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

After a successful opening night, Frazier and Johnson sat out on the terrace, looked up at the stars and reflected on the journey that brought them to Town Square Tap.

“It was beautiful,” Frazier said of the moment shared with his business partner.

Another principle the duo has adopted in running the taproom is the concept of common grace.

“Common grace is pretty simple. It’s basically how you can do good to everyone regardless of who they are,” Frazier said. “Whether it’s the terrace or it’s our ginger beer, we want to make sure what we do is for good.”

Frazier believes Green Lake is the right place to run a community-oriented small business.

“If your whole existence is to make a profit, then quite honestly, you have a miserable existence,” he said. “This area is special; organizations like Town Square are vitally important, not just for the health of individual families but to entire communities.”

Town Square Tap’s hours are in a state of flux. It’s currently open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.