A new craft brewery is coming to one of Memphis’ up-and-coming areas – the Broad Avenue Historic District.
Wiseacre Brewing Co., a concept from brothers Kellan Bartosch and Davin Bartosch, has leased 13,000 square feet at 2783 Broad Ave. and is planning to open by late 2013. They chose the old warehouse for its “big open space” and the Binghampton neighborhood for its community appeal.
“Broad is having this revival of space with art studios and a bike shop, restaurants and bars that do well,” Kellan Bartosch said. “It’s accessible to Sam Cooper and that’s important with just the geography of Memphis being what it is. The (Shelby Farms) Greenline’s going right through, which is another really cool part of the location, so people who are coming up on two wheels, it’ll be a fun way just to stop by.”
Kellan Bartosch said he and his brother were inspired by the way Robert Montague and the Binghampton Development Corp., David Wayne Brown and Pat Brown, and Loeb Properties Inc. have worked to transform the neighborhood.
“We’re looking forward to being a part of kind of changing the neighborhood,” Bartosch said.
Wiseacre will operate similar to the recently announced Memphis Made Brewing Co. LLC in Cooper-Young and High Cotton Brewing Co. in the Edge district – keg distribution to local bars and restaurants with a tap room in which customers can sample the current offerings, learn about each unique brew and purchase beer to-go.
Wiseacre also hopes to have local food trucks in the parking lot when the tap room is open.
Wiseacre will produce a regular lineup of year-round beers as well as a selection of seasonal and limited-edition brews. Davin Bartosch said the versatility and variety of beer is what got him interested in brewing.
“It’s always been every man’s drink and I love that about it,” Davin said. “The richest businessmen in the world and the poorest people are all drinking beer.”
The Bartosch brothers grew up in Memphis, attended White Station High School and are longtime beer connoisseurs.
Some 10 years ago while visiting Memphis from the respective cities they had relocated to, they shook hands at Soul Fish Café during the Cooper-Young Festival on eventually making their dream of owning a brewery a reality.
Davin Bartosch, the older brother, has a background in brewing. After homebrewing for seven years, he went to the Siebal Institute of Technology in Chicago and Doeman’s Academy in Munich, coursework that led him to graduate as salutatorian from the World Brewing Academy in 2008.
Since then, Davin Bartosch has been working professionally as a head brewer for Rock Bottom Breweries in Illinois. He’s received accolades from the Great American Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup and the Festival of Wood & Barrel Aged Beer.
Kellan Bartosch worked for Det Distributing Co. in Nashville before becoming a sales rep for Sierra Nevada in Las Vegas. He holds the Cicerone Certification, the beer world’s equivalent to a credentialed wine Sommelier, which designates those with proven expertise in blind beer taste testing, style recognition, the history of brewing, food and beer pairings.
The Bartosch brothers chose the name “Wiseacre” because it’s a lighthearted word their grandmother used to use for smart alecks.
“It’s a brewery, so I don’t think we should be like ‘esoteric brewery machine’ or something,” Kellan Bartosch said. “It’s more fun than to have something that’s really deep and meaningful.”
Even with a playful name, the educational component of Wiseacre’s business is something the brother brewing team will take very seriously. Both of them have different sources of formal beer educations, whereas most beer enthusiasts have informal schooling.
“I think a lot of people just don’t understand how complex the process is of making beer,” Davin Bartosch said. “I gave tours to people and they would ask, ‘when do you add the vodka?’ Even something like making wine is incredibly simple compared to making beer – you just crush grapes and add yeast. There’s so many more steps involved in a glass of beer.”
Davin Bartosch said Memphis’ water is “very soft,” and the mineral content makes brewing easier than most places. He’s surprised more breweries haven’t taken advantage of the city’s artesian wells.
“We have water that’s very similar to the water that’s in Pilsner in the Czech Republic, which is where the original lagers were produced,” he said.
Andy Cates and Preston Thomas of Colliers International represented Wiseacre in lease negotiations. Bill Bell of Bell Properties represented the landlord.
Cates said the property Wiseacre is leasing allows for an expansion of their business in addition to a possible event location in the future.
“These partners have spent several years in planning for this business and are well prepared to hit the ground running,” Cates said. “It is a great story of Memphis natives coming back home.”
Moreover, the Bartosch brothers believe Wiseacre and the city’s craft breweries are a proud story for Memphis to tell. Wiseacre joins other local craft brewers Memphis Made Brewing, Boscos Brewing Co., Ghost River Brewing Co. and High Cotton.
In contrast, San Diego has 39 microbreweries. Even Ashville, N.C., with a population a tenth the size of Memphis, has nine.
“We have a lot of room to grow and we’re excited that other people are opening as well,” Kellan Bartosch said. “I think it will help the city of Memphis move forward as a beer market and expect some good things to come along with that. Just the way people want to have a good sports team in their town or a good food scene, having a great beer scene is a part of what makes cities cool and fun to live in.”
Visit wiseacrebrew.com for more.