Two-year-old Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. plans to open a second brewery in St. Louis that will quadruple its current brewing capacity and give it the largest footprint of any St. Louis-area craft brewery.
The new location, at 4465 Manchester Avenue in the city’s Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, is the former Renard Paper Co. building, on the western edge of the Grove entertainment district.
Clayton-based real estate firm Green Street bought the 75,000-square-foot building last month and will lease it to Urban Chestnut. The brewery had been working with Green Street for more than a year to find an expansion property.
Brewery owners David Wolfe and Florian Kuplent will present the project to the Forest Park Southeast Development Committee at a meeting April 23. They said they have gotten positive feedback from 17th Ward Alderman Joe Roddy and members of Park Central Development, the 17th Ward’s community development corporation.
“We’re really excited about it, and the next step will be to see what the neighborhood has to say,” said Chris Colizza, Park Central’s neighborhood planner. “To me, it seems like a slam-dunk. It would be a win for the commercial district and the neighborhood at large.”
If all goes according to plan, work will begin next month, and the new brewery and pub will open in early 2014. The redevelopment is expected to cost about $10 million.
“The space is pretty much perfect for what we want to do, and it gives us room to grow,” said Kuplent, who also is Urban Chestnut’s brewmaster. “We’re also excited about the location and to be part of the Grove.”
Once the new brewery is open, Urban Chestnut initially will be able to boost its annual production by about 15,000 barrels of beer. The new facility will eventually have capacity for 100,000 barrels a year. (One barrel equals 31 gallons, or about 330 regular-size bottles.)
Urban Chestnut brewed about 4,000 barrels of draft and bottled beer in 2012 at its midtown brewery at 3229 Washington Boulevard, and it is on pace to brew about 7,500 barrels there this year.
The midtown brewpub, which opened in January 2011, will remain fully operational when the second location opens. Kuplent said he will use that brewery mainly to test, brew and package small-batch and wood-aged beers; its bar and 400-seat beer garden will stay as they are.
The second Urban Chestnut location will be roughly twice the size of Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood, currently the area’s biggest craft brewery.
The St. Louis Brewery produced about 50,000 barrels of Schlafly beer last year at the Bottleworks, the Tap Room downtown and at several out-of-state facilities.
Urban Chestnut’s renovation of the Renard Paper warehouse will include a bottling line, staff offices, retail space, a kitchen and bar area, and seating for about 150 people. Windows will look out on to Manchester Avenue, and the bar will face the brewhouse.
“People will actually be able to smell, see and hear what we’re doing in the brewery,” Kuplent said.
Kuplent and Wolfe are both former Anheuser-Busch InBev employees who left their positions to open Urban Chestnut.
They brew and market their beers in two categories: reverence and revolution. The former is a nod toward traditional, European beer styles (Kuplent was born and trained in Germany), while the latter focuses on American-style craft beers.
Wolfe said they hope to use the expansion opportunity to evolve the reverence-revolution theme.
“Our original location, with the beer garden and wooden tables, is in the reverence model,” Wolfe said. “The new space, which is industrial and modern, fits the revolution concept.”
Urban Chestnut will hire an additional 40 full- and part-time employees once the new brewery is complete.
Green Street will seek LEED certification for energy efficiency, water conservation and other “green” endeavors at the former paper company building, which was constructed in the 1920s and underwent expansions in the ’80s and ’90s.
The redevelopment plan includes spaces for parking on the north and east sides of the building.
Source: Evan S. Benn (@EvanBenn) is the food critic and beer columnist for the Post-Dispatch.