Buzz Bomb Brewing Company prepares to open downtown

By Patrick Yeagle

What started as some friendly sword play is leading to a new brewery in downtown Springfield.

Buzz Bomb Brewing Company plans to open its doors this fall at 406 E. Adams St. – formerly Oasis bar.

Josh Flanders, a co-owner at Buzz Bomb Brewing, says he and partner Bill Larson are part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a historical reenactment group that teaches skills like sword fighting, calligraphy and mead brewing. About seven years ago, the two men began experimenting with brewing mead.

“It didn’t turn out so well,” Flanders said. “We thought, ‘Maybe we should try brewing beer.’ ”

Their decision to open a brewery came when they served their beer at Springfield Oyster & Beer Festival last year.

“That was when we were like, “You know what? I think we could really do this,’ ” Flanders said.

Kevin Lust, director of Lincoln Land Community College’s Small Business Development Center, helped the duo create a business plan, and they’re now preparing to open their downtown microbrewery and taproom in September.

Flanders and Larson are renovating the former Oasis bar to have a “rustic industrial” feel with a copper-top bar, light fixtures made with black gas pipe, and custom stained glass and furniture they’re building themselves. They even plan to install outlets at tables with built-in USB ports to charge customers’ phones.

“We’re trying for the vibe of classy but accessible,” he said. “That’s the same thing we’re going for with our beer. We’re aiming to have something for everybody, so if you’re not a craft beer drinker, we’ll still have something that’s accessible to you. And if you’re really into the obscure stuff, we’ll have that for you, as well.”

The upstairs of the building, which previously hosted live music in the Oasis era, will again host small musical acts, as well as a small library and a second brewing system. Flanders says they will offer brewing classes and custom brews for occasions like weddings. He adds that the brewery’s logo design is inspired by 1940s World War II aesthetic, so the library will contain books on bomber airplanes and tattoo flash from that period, among other topics.

Brewing capacity will initially be five barrels – equivalent to 155 gallons – split between a large primary system downstairs and the smaller secondary system upstairs. Flanders says the brewery will have a couple of rounds of brews on hand at open, and he expects to outgrow the original system before long if on-site demand and distribution are strong.

“What we’re hoping is if things go well, we’ll open a second site,” he said, adding that a potential second site could see a larger 10-barrel system installed.

Buzz Bomb Brewing won’t have a kitchen, Flanders says, but there are plans to have food from nearby restaurants delivered on demand. He adds that locating downtown was a priority, and the Oasis building was a perfect fit because it’s an older building with character, in keeping with their design motif.

“We thought this location was great,” Flanders said. “We’re right in front of the farmer’s market, and we want to participate with that.”

The brewery’s spent grains could be made into bread and sold at the market, he says, along with kombucha tea, a fermented drink popular in Asia.

“If you want a beer at 10 in the morning, you can have one of those, too,” he said with a laugh.

Flanders says that rather than seeing other local brewers as competition, he and his partners see them as part of a network that strengthens the downtown and the region surrounding Springfield.

“We think there’s room at the table for everybody,” he said. “In other places like St. Louis, Denver or Portland, you’ve got a community of different brewers who work together. That’s what we’d like to see here. We would like to help create that community.”