Brewing: a Science and an Art

Bryce Parr –

Zymology, the science of fermentation, is an enigmatic blend of chemistry and art. For Wisconsin native Jon Christiansen, this means balancing the chemical processes with his own self-described by-the-seat-of-his-pants brewing. Christiansen spent years perfecting his skills as a brewer and zymologist since the age of 18. At the end of 2018, Christiansen and University of Wisconsin-Stout alumna Chelsea Rickert opened a new venture in brewing: Zymurgy Brewing Company. Zymurgy Brewing Company at the renovated auto shop at 624 Main Street in Menomonie.

Combining craft brews with a focus on the local community, Zymurgy hopes to offer crowds unique tastes and engaging events. “You have to do something. You can’t just be open,” Christiansen said. A lot of the ingredients used in Zymurgy’s recipes are locally sourced. Syrup, cranberries, honey and even coffee is sourced from Wisconsin to offer flavors unique to the community. “There are a lot of benefits to using local honey. It’s all about the community in general,” Rickert said. “You want to be community centered.”

“Jon is a diamond in the rough,” said bartender Kristen Hedge. “He has so much knowledge and is so willing to share it. Zymurgy has so much to offer and prove to the community around us. We’re living the dream and we work hard for it.”

Christiansen started his professional journey in Belgium in the spring of 2004 where he worked at Brewery De Koninck in Antwerp. After working for a few months, Christiansen immersed himself in the Belgian food and drink culture.

Christiansen attended the Siebel Institute of Technology, a brewing school in Chicago in the fall of 2005. In 2010, he left the Joseph James Brewing Company just south of Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada to move back to the Midwest. Christiansen was the head brewer at Lucette until 2016 when he left to start work on opening Zymurgy Brewing Company.

The Brewery was well received on opening night despite a vicious snowstorm. “I was amazed at the amount of people coming downtown even though it was such a snowstorm. It was wild,” Christiansen said. The brewery has regularly hosted events since opening including a brewery tour, holiday parties, beer release parties, musicians and a class on the various uses of hemp. “We want to do classes about fermentation. I want to do an intro to brewing. Chelsea and I might both do an intro to kombucha.” Christiansen said.

They plan to invite guest speakers to host talks as well. “If it’s something we are interested in, they can come here. It’s a platform. We are open for all kinds of classes,” Christiansen said. “We are also trying to associate with Stout a little bit through all this.”

Christiansen plans to eventually fill all 15 of Zymurgy’s main taps with Zymurgy beers while they continue to brew new and different flavors. “There’s a list of 30 million things and we could check one thing off every day. We’d still find more to do after that.”