Brews Brothers

Davin and Kellan Bartosch get crafty with Wiseacre Brewing

ERINN FIGG | Special to The Daily News

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “wiseacre” as “one who pretends to knowledge or cleverness; a smart aleck” and then asks readers to comment: “What made you want to look up ‘wiseacre’?”

Among several answers is that of Brandt McMillan of Nashville:

Brothers Davin Bartosch, left, and Kellan Bartosch chose the name “Wiseacre” – meaning smart aleck – for their Broad Avenue craft brewery because it’s what their grandmother used to call them.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“It's the name of a very professionally run new brewery in Memphis, Tenn., and I wanted to know more about the word.”

Owners and brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch say sentiment is behind the name of Wiseacre Brewing Co., which opened Aug. 30 at 2783 Broad Ave. after being a dream-in-the-making for a decade. Their grandmother frequently used the word as a term of endearment – or scolding, depending on the brothers’ shenanigans at the time.

And although the word is a synonym for know-it-all, a look at the Memphis natives’ career paths shows that when it comes to beer, the brothers really do know what they’re talking about.

“We have different gifts,” Kellan Bartosch said. “Davin started homebrewing when he was 19 and I would just sort of tag along. Finally I thought, ‘This is a good way for us to enjoy our lives and run a brewery someday, but we need to be very thorough.’ Davin continued to homebrew until we eventually said, ‘All right – how do we really pursue this goal?’”

Their pursuit of that goal is creatively depicted on a map on display in the brewery and on Wiseacre’s website, wiseacrebrew.com.

Davin Bartosch went to Siebel Institute of Technology, Doeman’s Academy and the World Brewing Academy to study brewing before eventually becoming an award-winning head brewer in Chicago. Kellan Bartosch worked for a beer distributor and later moved to Las Vegas to work for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

The two eventually returned to Memphis to put their knowledge and experience to work for them. Davin had one major goal.

“When we started, I wanted to make sure that I knew how to do this better than anybody that’s ever started a brewery before,” he said, “And I wanted to know how to do everything under this roof by myself.”

“Under this roof” refers to a 20 BBL (barrel) JV Northwest Brewhouse – the best of the best in American-made breweries, according to the brothers and other brewing aficionados – housed in a 13,000-square-foot warehouse.

The first craft brewery in Memphis and the first such brewery in Tennessee to can its beers, Wiseacre serves two beers year-round: Ananda, an India Pale Ale, and Tiny Bomb, an American Pilsner. They also offer seasonal beers, which they plan to switch out every few months.

The brothers also wanted to avoid any perceptions that they were jumping on a trend.

“I think a lot of folks now are trying to cash in on a trend. When we got into it, no one cared about craft brewing,” Davin said. “Now everyone’s like, ‘Oh, you’re in this trend of craft brewing,’ but we’ve been in it long before it was a trend, and there are people who were in it long before us. We owe it to them to be respectful of what they’ve done before us.”

Kellan agreed, adding that they mainly just want to share the joy of beer.

“We don’t want this to be an exclusive, condescending thing – it’s beer, it should be fun. We’ve done our best to learn as much as we can, and now we’re going to make the things we love,” he said. “That’s really important to us, because if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, why are you doing it? And we want to be able to share that passion with people and make the experience approachable and fun, not stiff-arm people away.”

Wiseacre’s cash-free, credit card-only taproom is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays. The early closing hour serves two purposes, Kellan said.

They really want to the brewery to be about the beer, not becoming a weekend scene. And at the moment, he and Davin are the only people working there.

“We have to sleep sometime,” he said, “and we have lives outside the brewery.”

Wiseacre’s taproom, patio, and backyard also are available to rent for private or corporate events, and an additional multipurpose room can be used for meetings, private dinners or even set up as a classroom.

At the moment, Wiseacre Brewing Co.’s beers are distributed in more than a dozen locations throughout Memphis, including Flying Saucer, South of Beale and Young Avenue Deli.

Kellan suggests that anyone who’d like to get a taste – literally and figuratively speaking – of the brewery itself should swing by Wiseacre Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Saturday. The event will feature a polka band and $1 off beers for anyone dressed in German garb.