Memphians who braved the heavy rain last Saturday for the groundbreaking of Crosstown Concourse got their first taste of beer from Will Goodwin and Clark Ortkiese.
The two behind the proposed Crosstown Brewing Company served samples of a nut brown ale and an IPA at the event. And they're hoping to be serving more beer in the Crosstown neighborhood in about year or more when they establish their brewery either inside Crosstown Concourse (the new name for Sears Crosstown) or somewhere else in the neighborhood.
They're currently in talks with the Crosstown Development Team about available space. And while the location remains up in the air, the two friends are determined to move forward with their plans to establish the city's fifth craft brewery. — Bianca Phillips
Flyer: What inspired you to open a brewery?
Ortkiese: I live in [the] Evergreen [Historic District], so if you're standing in my backyard, you're looking up at the [Crosstown Concourse] tower. Will and I have been home-brewing together in my backyard, and when we're sitting there looking at the tower, we've been like, Man, we should really put a brewery in there.
How long have you two been brewing?
Goodwin: Combined, we've got about 11 years of brewing behind us. We're both certified judges with the Beer Judge Certification Program. That gives us an expertise on beer styles. We're both active members of the Memphis Home Brewers Association. Clark is the president, and I'm the vice-president.
Ortkiese: We're immersed in beer culture. That's our lives. That's all we talk about. We eat, sleep, and drink it. It's all the books we read. It's all the magazines we read. It's what we text each other about. It's all day, every day — beer, beer, beer.
Goodwin: We entered a Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout in the Tennessee State Fair last year and came away with the gold.
Is that something you might brew at Crosstown Brewing Company?
Goodwin: That would be a candidate for some kind of special release. Because of the process and the time associated with a beer like that, it wouldn't be a mainstream beer.
Would your brewery be more focused on classic or experimental beers?
Ortkiese: I'd think we'll have a little bit of both. There are some people who want to drink the same thing over and over again. And there are a lot of people who never want to drink the same thing twice, and there's plenty of room to make both of those groups happy.
What's the projected opening date? Goodwin: There's a lot of permitting that has to be done, so our hands are tied on the timing. Brewing equipment is notoriously slow to be shipped. So we're looking at middle-to-late 2016. It could push later than that.
Will you have a taproom?
Goodwin: We'll be a production brewery first and foremost. We have plans to have a canning line and maybe do some large format bottles and, of course, kegs for the restaurants and bars in town. We'll have a taproom, but we will have limited hours.
What will a brewery bring to the Crosstown neighborhood?
Ortkiese: It's really a neighborhood that could use a little identity and something to get behind, and nothing brings people together like sharing a beer.
Goodwin: Think about "Untapped" at the Tennessee Brewery last year. That was really something that people could get behind and rally together and really enjoy each other in a unique space. We think Crosstown has a lot of similar characteristics. People can rally behind revitalizing this community and this neighborhood.