Sawmill Brewing Company names new beer after fallen soldier Submitted: 03/06/2018
Dakota Sherek
Dakota Sherek
Senior Reporter / Anchor

Sawmill Brewing Company names new beer after fallen soldier
MERRILL - 12 years ago Sergeant Ryan Jopek lost his life while deployed in Iraq. The Merrill community continues to remember its fallen solider, and on Tuesday night people remembered him in a new way at the Sawmill Brewery Company.

The brewery's newest beer is about far more than adding a new flavor.

"We are releasing a very special beer tonight named Walter Amber Ale after a good friend of mine, Ryan Jopek," said Chris Burger.

Jopek died in 2006, while serving his last mission in Iraq.

"He was one of the most genuine, kind, approachable people I can remember," said Jopek. 
Burger served alongside Jopek. He is now a brewer at Sawmill, and wanted to name a beer after his fallen friend. At first, Burger wasn't sure what Jopek's family would think about the idea.

"My first thought when I heard that they wanted to name a beer for Ryan, I just thought of him smiling and chuckling," said Tracy Jopek, Ryan Jopek's mother. I'm sure he is getting quite the kick out of it." 

"I just think it's a really awesome thing that they're doing," said Brian Jopek, Ryan Jopek's father. 

The name "Walter" in the Walter Amber Ale pays homage to Ryan's truck, which is named after Hall of Fame football player Walter Payton.

"People that know Ryan would then know what it's about instead of making it obvious," said Burger.

Those who knew Ryan knew the truck was an important part of his life.

"When he got home on leave the first place he went to get in his garage to get in his truck and drive his truck. It was everything," said Tracy.

"It is his truck, and always will be," said Brian.

The community's continued support of Ryan Jopek's memory means the world to his family.

"I mean, I don't think I could survive this journey without the support of the community behind me," said Tracy. 

"It is a thrill to know there are people out there who haven't forgotten," said Brian. "Everybody has their own way of remembering, and this is just another way of doing that." 

Not only does Burger hope the beer will serve as a way for people to remember Jopek, but also to remind people to continue supporting one another.

"The whole community came together to make this a reality for a fallen solider which is amazing," said Burger. "And that's kind of what we're hoping the beer can kind of stand for too is you know what the community can do when we all come together."

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

NEWBOLD - If it's Saturday, it's training day for the Newbold Fire Department in Oneida County. 

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Guitar strings lose their rich sound whether they're being played or just sitting in an attic. The Northland Music Center gave their customers a fresh set Saturday for free to celebrate Earth Day a little early. 

Co-owner Will Roffers had a busy Saturday morning.

"I would say we're probably in the twenties at this point an hour and a half in," said Roffers working on a guitar inside Northland Music Center in Rhinelander.

He and his co-workers have been re-stringing guitars and recycling the old strings.

It's part of string company D'Addario's international effort to keep highly-recyclable metal guitar strings out of the landfill. 

"The amount of strings that go in the garbage is phenomenal so this is really taking a dent out of that," said Roffers.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Whether you like a fruity wine, a hoppy beer, or something a little different, you were likely able to find it at the ninth annual Hodag Hops & Vines event in Rhinelander Saturday. The event brings in wineries and microbreweries from around Wisconsin and nearby states.

Executive director of the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce Lauren Sackett said it's a great opportunity for locals to try new flavors.

"There's always a new beer or wine. [People] can come and check out what they might have for their new summer flavor," said Sackett.

+ Read More

PINE LAKE - One person went to the St. Mary's Hospital in Rhinelander with non-life threatening injuries Saturday morning after a one vehicle accident on County Road W near Bozile Road.

The driver was reported to be outside of the vehicle which was on fire before firefighters arrived.

Emergency crews remained on the scene for about one hour.

The Pink Lake Fire Department responded after being dispatched at 3:30 a.m.

+ Read More

MADISON - An investigation has found that as many as 10 students and staff reported that they were sexually harassed by the husband of former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper.

Kopper resigned in December after her husband, Alan "Pete" Hill, was banned from campus. The university released its 18-page investigative report and about 850 pages of attachments on Friday in response to an Associated Press open records request.

UW spokesman Mark Pitsch said in a statement that President Ray Cross advised Kopper to resign after he was briefed on findings of the report in mid-December. Pitsch says: "The report speaks for itself."

The investigation found no evidence that Kopper knew about or facilitated the actions of her husband, even though his behavior was "pervasive and well-known."

+ Read More

MADISON - A new report says Wisconsin has seen a steep decline in net migration of families with children who could help replace the state's aging workforce.

The Wisconsin Counties Association's research arm, Forward Analytics, recently released a study that raises concerns about migration patterns. The report says Wisconsin doesn't have enough young people to take over jobs from retiring baby boomers in the coming 10 to 15 years.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that migration of children dropped below 10,000 from 2010 to 2015. Before 2010, Wisconsin added 40,000 children from outside the state over a five-year period.

Wisconsin's birthrate has also declined to its lowest in four decades.

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin's youngest lawmaker is much like your typical 19-year-old who binge-watches Netflix, goes out to movies, and eats out with friends.

But Democratic Rep. Kalan Haywood doesn't have a lot of free time these days. The Milwaukee teenager's days in the Legislature tend to be jam-packed. He dashes from committee hearings to office meetings with lobbyists and at the end of the day still has homework to worry about.

Haywood is a sophomore at Cardinal Stritch University, where he's pursuing a degree in business administration.

Haywood is one of three lawmakers nationally who were 19 when they were elected to legislatures in November. The others are in West Virginia and New Hampshire.

+ Read More
+ More General News