(St. Joseph, MO) A local brewery is hoping to bring back a piece of St. Joseph’s past.
Edison Derr and Chris Lanman are looking to restore 1224 Frederick Avenue back to its former glory by making the building home to River Bluff Brewing.
"When we stepped foot into this location it didn't have a roof and it still didn't have windows, but it just felt historic. You could almost feel the past,” Derr said.
For the brewers, the daunting task of fixing up a building that has sat vacant for over 25 years was a small price to pay for bringing back the tradition of St.Joseph having a hometown brewery.
"The 1224 building that we are standing in is actually an 1860s brewery as well. So just the history behind that and the old beer cellars below us is a just a really cool part of the history and we love to bring that back and tell that story,” Lanman said.
For months Derr and Lanman worked to restore the building, trying to preserve as much of the original structure and style as possible by re-creating large wooden doors and replica windows for an industrial feel.
“The bones of the building, the history behind them is really a big part of a brewery and we want to tell a story,” Lanman said.
In June, River Bluff Brewing was recognized by the St. Joseph Landmark Commission for their restoration efforts. The brewery was awarded the Back from the Brink award for their work at 1224 Frederick Ave.
“We really wanted to bring a brewery here not just to be a brewery, but also to bring back some of the history of this location and this town,” Derr said.
When the business opens up their doors, they plan to have a beer or cider to fit everyone’s taste.
"We have 12 taps, so we will do the full line-up of beers, all the way from very easy, light drinking lagers to very hoppy IPAs and further into big dark stouts,” Lanman said.
The owners said they hope the micro-brewery will bring much more than beer to Frederick Avenue.
"Over the years we've lost a lot of our businesses that were homegrown St.Joe businesses like the breweries, so bringing them back to St. Joe is pretty important to us,” Lanman said.
The River Bluff will be decorated in memorabilia from the city’s past. The decor will have aspects from other historic buildings in St. Joseph like The Pioneer building that was lost to a fire in 2016; Olympia Lanes, which closed in 2016 and the Y sign from the Y Hotel that used operate on the Belt Highway.
"We tried to create that vibe and save that authenticity of this space, just to give us that beautiful ambiance of times past and of a successful St.Joseph,” Derr said.
As the brewery grows, owners said they would like to start distributing the homegrown product to other businesses.
“We will be distributing eventually. We are hoping that by the first of we’ll be prepared and know which style of beer St. Joseph would like to see at places like the HiHo, or The Tiger’s Den, or Norty’s or Bella Epoque that way we can give them what want wherever they’re at,” Derr said.
Employees at River Bluff Brewing said they will work with other businesses to help downtown grow.
“We really just enjoy that bringing back prosperity and success to older buildings,” Derr said. “This is a great corridor where we are located and we feel that it would be advantageous for the city if Frederick Avenue itself was alive and thriving again.”
The brewery plans to open its doors at the end of September.