A love of craft beer and a home brew hobby has turned into a business venture for a local man. Ryan Kunken said he hopes to have his new microbrewery open in April, although he’s concerned that the partial government shutdown will delay some of the paperwork that he needs to receive.
Springfield Beer Co. will be located at 3788 W. Wabash, in the other half of the building occupied by Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. “It’s going to be a small micro-brewery; I’m going to brew on site,” Kunken explained. “I plan on serving mostly my beer but also other local micro-brews.” He said the 2400 square foot space will have room for 20 taps.
Kunken works as a lender for Wells Fargo, but said that about 10 years ago he and his cousin took a class at Lincoln Land Community College on making beer, since they were interested in craft beers. “We both had a lot of fun and started buying equipment to be able to do it on our own. It really became a passion of mine. I like to share my beer with others, and this will give me an opportunity to do that,” he said.
After a while, Kunken realized he wanted his beer brewing to be more than a hobby. “I wrote my business plan in 2013 and shopped it around to different lenders,” he said. “I actually started looking for locations back then.” However, by the time he had lined up other investors and bank financing and was ready to move forward, the locations he had seen previously were no longer available. In addition, other microbreweries had already opened in the local market, and Kunken said he didn’t want to choose a location too close to other existing breweries.
“I originally started looking downtown. I really like the old buildings there and the sense of community. But that was before Buzz Bomb and Anvil and Forge opened, so then I thought it might be best to be somewhere else,” he said. However, he said he’s not concerned about the market being saturated. “It’s not really a competition; it’s more about building each other up in the brewing community.”
Kunken explained that since his location won’t serve food, he likes the fact that there are many restaurants nearby so that people can pick up food and bring it in to eat. While he waits on his licensing paperwork, he is focused on finishing up construction of the space. Joyner Construction Services is the general contractor and Evan Lloyd Architects is the architect for the project.
“Construction should be done next week, and I plan to hire five people and be open in April if everything goes well,” said Kunken.
The business will be open from 3-11 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 3 p.m.-12 a.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m.-12 a.m. on Saturdays, and 12-8 p.m. on Sundays.