Thursday, September 24, 2009


My first recollection of Kay Brauner goes back to about 5 years ago when she came to the brewery looking for some middlings. Middlings? What the heck was middlings!?

middlings, any of various products or commodities of intermediate quality, grade, size, etc., as the coarser particles of ground wheat mingled with bran.

Ah spent grain. Got it. Learned something new that day! Bread you say? Sounds good to a bunch of guys who groove on good beer and food. Well a day or so later she showed back up with her Middlings/Beer Bread and it was a good. Here was something she took of average quality and turned it into something better.

We started to chat a bit more and she asked if we could use some help. It might have been the dark circles under Todd's or my eyes that inclined her to volunteer or maybe she really DID want to learn about making and packaging beer. At any rate, Kay showed up the next bottling day and learned how to load glass onto the line. As time progressed we learned a few things about Kay - she could work circles around just about anybody! We learned she also worked at the greenhouse. She also help Jeff and Sheri and later Jay down at Molly's with catering - oh yeah she also help trim apple trees at Cains Orchard and wait, she help others - LOTS of others! When she couldn't help out she found others - she also got her hubby Michael involved. Iron Mike we call him - want to find out why? Come work a few days with Mike when we are bottling, better eat your wheaties - he will leave you behind!

Over the last several years I got to know Kay - she would always listen patiently and give some pretty sound advice, sometimes without saying a word but by just nodding her head and smiling. Funny thing - she could always get me to where I had to go in my thought process. Always. She became a good friend to all of us. Always encouraging, Always helpful. Her and Mike helped us out a bunch with any activity, tasting or beerfest that they could get to.

When we first opened up our tap room we had a small bunch of folks show up. Kay and Mike would bring a few of their friends, and in turn those folks would bring a few more of theirs and so on. Pretty soon we had a pretty vibrant Friday night goin on! Life is good that way.

I would venture a bet that she had that effect on all she did. Kay touched the lives of all the people she would run into. I think she had a knack for taking middlings and making something better out of it.

I know she did with us "middlings" here at the brewery.

Kay, thanks for being part of our lives - I consider myself blessed for being able to know you for these short 5 years.

Yeah, I know - dont fuss over you.

"A celebration of Kay's life will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday October 25th at Skyline Golf Course Clubhouse, Black River Falls. Memorials may be given to End of Life Choices, P.O. Box 101810, Denver, CO 80250-1810, The Nature Conservancy, 4245 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203, and/or the Black River Falls Public Library. Torgerson's Funeral Service, Black River Falls, is assisting the family."

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