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Growing a small business one brew at a time

TAQ Brewery finding early success in Kaukauna

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October 16, 2023

KAUKAUNA – Like many other brewery stories, TAQ Brewing, located at 115 W. Wisconsin Ave. in Kaukauna, started slowly and worked up from there.

“You’ve probably heard it before, but we got our start when I bought my husband a homebrew kit for Christmas several years ago,” Co-owner Nicole Denil said. “My husband Bob started brewing from there and got quite good at it. He came to me about a year ago this time and said, ‘I think I know what I want to be when I grow up – let’s open a brewery.’”

Nicole said she had no idea her husband’s plans for a brewery would become a reality so quickly.

“I was thinking about a five-year plan,” she laughed. “Less than six months (after our initial conversation), we opened a brewery. Things fell into place with the building we’re in – it’s not quite what we expected, but here we are.”

TAQ Brewing – named after the middle names of the couple’s three kids – opened its doors May 2 and held an official ribbon-cutting celebration through the Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce late last month.

“(The ribbon cutting ceremony) was a nice way to celebrate us opening – it’s helped us get the word out,” Nicole said. “Things are going well – so far so good. I think people seek out breweries, and I think that’s a true statement.”
The building
Nicole said the building TAQ sits in “has housed many different bars over the years.”

“We’re not originally from Kaukauna – we’re from Appleton – but when people come in, they tell us about what it used to be,” she said. “In the early ’80s, the building – which was built in the ’60s – was a teen center. Since then, it’s been a bar, but was vacant for about a year before we (moved in).”

?Co-owner Nicole Denil said TAQ Brewing started after she bought her husband a homebrew for Christmas several years ago. Submitted Photo

Nicole said they lease the building from some good friends of theirs.

“We own the business, but they own the building,” she said. “There was a massive amount of work needed to get (the building) up to par. We pretty much gutted it – steam cleaned, painted, cleaned the floors, had to take things down, took the ceiling out, etc. My husband brews in the basement, so we had to gut that, too.”
Why the Kaukauna location?
Wisconsin is home to more than 200 breweries, so competition is fierce – something Nicole said was a huge factor in finding the right spot.

“For starters, the reason we’re in Kaukauna is the building and its location,” she said. “Additionally, there are no other breweries in Kaukauna. The last time there was a brewery in Kaukauna was 75 years ago. A portion of our space here is dedicated to (recognizing) that brewery. We’ve got pictures and some cool memorabilia on display.”

Nicole said the Kaukauna locals seem happy to have TAQ Brewing in town.

“They laugh and say, ‘now there is a brewery we can come to,’” she said.
What’s on tap?
According to TAQ’s website (, the brewery has several home-brewed beers on tap – including Summer’s End, Bridge Burning, Arlandria and Honees Honees.

Nicole said TAQ also has brews from neighboring breweries on tap as well.

Patrons can choose from TAQ’s brews – Summer’s End, Bridge Burning, Arlandria, Honees Honees and others. Submitted Photo

“Ideally, with our 12 taps, we’d like to have six of our own and six guest taps, but that might take a bit of time before we get there,” Nicole said. “Ultimately, I don’t think we’ll ever go past eight of our beers on tap. I think my husband probably won’t get into making certain kinds of beers anytime soon – like a sour. It’s fun to have some variety from other breweries, and we are choosy with our guest taps. We don’t want to have brews that you can pick up anywhere.”
Fostering community
Nicole said TAQ is more than just a brewery – it’s a place for people to listen to music and partake in other special events.

“It’s about bringing other interesting things to the community, too,” she said. “It’s not about, ‘let’s drink as much as possible.’”

Special events include Lego building, food trucks, live music, trivia and craft nights, a Halloween party and more.

“It’s a different vibe inside TAQ – it’s relaxed,” Nicole said. “We have a couch inside and are trying to promote community.”
Though TAQ is up and running and doing well, Nicolel said both she and her husband still have other full-time jobs – and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon.

Co-owners Nicole and Bob Denil opened TAQ Brewing – located at 115 W. Wisconsin Ave. in Kaukauna – earlier this year. Submitted Photo

“My husband may do (TAQ) full-time in the future, but I’m a nurse and teach nursing,” she said. “I love what I do, and I’ve worked too hard to get where I’m at, so I don’t want to quit now. My schedule varies a great deal – when I finish teaching a semester, I might have a couple of weeks off, so it works out great.”

You can find more information about TAQ on Facebook.

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