Wiseacre Brewing Co. wants to build a new brewery (bigger than its Broad Avenue facility) with a taproom and an attached kitchen on vacant lots near the South Main Arts District.
Abel Parcels LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wiseacre, now has several parcels of vacant land under contract close to the corner of B.B. King and Butler, according to the variance request
. They expect to close on those pieces of property by January.
The company has asked for a variance from the Memphis and Shelby County Board of Adjustment that would enable them to establish a brewery there. Current rules allow for a "microbrewery" to produce up to 15,000 barrels (or 465,000 gallons) of beer per year. Wiseacre's planned facility would make much more than that (more details below). The board is set to vote on the matter during its meeting on Wednesday, December 19th.
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The application says the company will build a new facility on 2.5 acres of land around B.B. King and Vance ”that would accommodate a much greater production brewery than current production on Broad Avenue while creating a much larger and more inviting tap-room experience in the Downtown area.”
“The project would [hopefully] be complete by December 2019, with the goal of playing a role in the revitalization of Downtown Memphis,” reads the application. “The current location on Broad Avenue would remain as a small specialty brewhouse.”
B.B. King north of Vance looking toward Downtown.
Plans now call for a 40,000 square-foot facility for an 80,000-barrel production brewery. The company said the brewery will connect South Main to South City.
“We reached capacity at our original location on Broad Avenue more than two years ago, just three years after we opened it," Wiseacre co-founder Kellan Bartosch said in a statement Wednesday. "We have had distribution opportunities that we had to turn down because we didn’t have production capacity.
"Our success is ultimately a testament to the people of Memphis – their support made this massive growth possible, and we are so grateful.”
"It’s only fitting that we find another location in our hometown to continue to grow. We are excited to be a part of the renaissance happening in the South Main corridor and look forward to working with the Downtown Memphis Commission to make our vision come to life.”
Memphis and Shelby County Office of Development and Planning
“Through the Wiseacre development, we hope to play a pivotal role in the revitalization of the surrounding community,” reads the application. “The project will eliminate an entire block of voided earth, increase property values, and link the [National] Civil Rights Museum to greater parts of Downtown.
“The plan will create a fun, art-friendly environment with various public works of art and hopes to foster creativity and development in the surrounding area.
"The project will improve the perimeter sidewalks and landscape as well as providing a beautification project along the south wall of the facility as well as art from local Memphis artists.”
Wiseacre co-founder and brewmaster Davin Bartosch said "from a technical perspective, the new equipment is thrilling."
"The more you can control the brewing process, the better the beer will be," Bartosch said. "We want to make the best beer in the world and make it in Memphis.
"Kellan and I have always loved South Main and its character. Many people have paved the way to make Downtown and South Main what they are. We stand on their shoulders and look forward to providing an authentic Memphis experience in the downtown facility.”
Production will continue at the location on Broad but company officials "have yet to reveal specific plans for the evolution of their current home." But Davin Bartosch expects the new facility to free up space which will enable them to "blow the doors wide open in terms of creativity."
With the new facility announce came the news that Kemmons Wilson Companies made an investment in the Wiseacre. Along with providing funding for the Downtown facility, Kemmons Wilson Companies will support future strategic growth, Wiseacre said in a statement.
Construction on the new building is set to begin in winter of 2018.