Craft breweries shake up local beer market

Drew Barton, president and head brewer of Memphis Made Brewing, is one of three microbreweries that are planning to open in Memphis and should have beer pouring within the year. (Photo by Kyle Kurlick)

By Toby Sells

Memphis Commercial Appeal

Posted February 23, 2013 at 6:28 p.m.

Yes, brewing and selling small batches of locally made beer is a national trend. And, yes, Memphis is years behind that trend.

But to the three teams of locals working to open their breweries here in the coming months, the trend timeline hardly matters. They are eager to launch in a city they say is thirsty for more microbreweries. And they’re all eager to show what they can do with their tastes, talent and that much-bragged-about Memphis water.

To anyone watching closely, it seemed like the news came quickly. Announcements of three new Memphis breweries came within 10 months. High Cotton Brewing Co. set out plans in April. Memphis Made Brewing made its intentions public in December. This past week, Wiseacre Brewing Co. said it would  also open later this year.

You don’t have to dig too hard in the book of business clichés to find the old chestnut about something happening “once it’s a fluke, twice it’s a coincidence and three times it’s a trend.” While the string of brewery announcements certainly marks a trend, the roads each group of craftsmen, entrepreneurs and beer lovers took are not parallel and are anything but tidy.

Brewing ideas

Brothers Kellan and Davin Bartosch made a handshake agreement years ago that they would open their own brewery one day. They left Memphis on separate career paths, but both in the beer business. Davin learned the beer. Kellan learned the business. Both were successful on their own but are now making good on their handshake to open Wiseacre in a 13,000-square-foot building at 2783 Broad.

“We’ve been away from here, but both going to (Memphis) city schools, the city is such a part of our DNA,” Kellan Bartosch said.

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