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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


What’s on tap: Door County Brewing Company CEO talks new beer, Belgian traditions at release party

Step aside pumpkin spice lattes, a seasonal beverage making waves this year is one of Wisconsin’s premiere microbreweries’ L’automne.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user, Beautifulctaya

In a regional brewery scene where hoppy beers dominate the landscape, one Wisconsin company has decided to stand out among the rest: Door County Brewing Company.

Belgian-inspired brews have driven Door County Brewing Company into a successful microbrewery in the state’s picturesque peninsula, void of the IPAs and common beers that bog other breweries into boring commonality.

This past Thursday they held a release party for their new fall seasonal, L’automne, at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry, where I was lucky enough to do a sit down with the CEO and founder of Door County Brewing, John McMahon.


Badger Herald: Why is your brewery inspired by Belgian-style?

John McMahon: There have been six generations of Belgians in Door County, dating back to before the Civil War, so Belgian culture has been integral to Door County. A lot of our beers are saison style, which means season in French. Back in the 1800s people would brew a different beer on their farm every season.

It was always based on whatever supplies people had on their farms, so it would depend on what crop they were growing. The beers always had lower alcohol content because they were given to workers while on breaks. When Belgians came to Door County, they continued doing this on their farms.

So this has kind of always been our style, and we love it.

BH: So L’automne was inspired by another one of your farmhouse ales, Biere de Seigle. How did you work inspiration from one of your year-round beers into one of your seasonals?

JM: Our specialty at Door County is in Belgian-style and dark beers. Our favorite kind of beers to drink are Belgian and French-style beer, so it’s also what we like to make. Door County also has the largest population of Belgians outside of Belgium, so we also pull inspiration from our heritage.

Biere de Siege translates to “rye beer,” and L’automne is brewed with five malts, including rye, which is what we mean when we say it’s inspired by Biere de Siege. L’automne is a bigger and darker rye-style of Belgian beers, with a more malt-forward flavor than Biere de Siege. Most beers like this are more yeast-forward, but this one is led with malt, yet still has a solid yeast flavor.

I would consider L’automne more biere de garde style, which is French and not Belgian, but the rye and boldness in this brew comes from Bere de Siege.

BH: What makes Door County different from other Breweries?

JM: We’re not into the hoppy beers like a lot of other breweries. We like this because they’re really simple builds, and we can do a lot with our different recipes.

Head brewer Danny McMahon has over 100 recipes based on French and Belgian style because there is so much that you can do with them. Our beer has a multi-dimensional taste, so you can taste different aspects to them.

So, for example, our Little Sister Witbier is made with Belgian yeast and is made with coriander, which is standard for all our beers. But it also features rose hips, orange peel and several other spices that give it a very distinct taste that you usually don’t find in other Belgian-style beers.

People like hoppy beer, but with IPAs you often have a one dimensional taste that hits you right in the face. You don’t get a chance to taste anything in it. You know the flavor as soon as it hits your tongue, and that’s about all you get from it.

We like our style because we can create beer that has multiple flavors and styles that people can enjoy. Not having IPAs or other commonly-made styles of beer separates us from the pack. We have six saison-style beers we make year round.

Only one other brewery makes a year-round saison, so we’re pretty unique. Door County is a family business and you get to work with all of your family.

BH: What is that like?

JM: It’s really great. My wife, Angie, and our two sons, Ben and Danny, all work great together and are great friends. We’ve always been close and have had a great relationship. Danny and Ben really have a great palate for what people like, especially younger people. They have great taste in food, beer and cocktails, and they’ve really been a big key to our success.

They have a worldliness about them that connects them to what they make and have always had a passion for this. Danny and I handle the distribution side outside of Door County, and Angie and Ben handle everything in Door County. It’s a great relationship.


So, I decided to grab myself a pint of L’automne to see what this farmhouse ale was really like.


Biere de Garde, 7.0 percent.


Strong caramel and rye aroma with slight citrus notes.


Dark amber, almost a golden-brown hue.


The malty backbone is strong with the caramel and rye flavors dominating. Smooth taste that has a soothing finish.

Room Temperature Taste

Remains the same as the initial taste, never losing its full flavor.


As a big IPA fan, I was thinking that this would not be a beer I would particularly like, but I was pleasantly surprised. L’automne is a great seasonal that stands out from the traditional.

Oktoberfests and pumpkin beers dominate in the fall and are a great alternative for beer enthusiasts.

Rating: 4.5/5

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