INDEPENDENCE – Buchanan County’s first brewery since prohibition is well on its way to becoming a reality. Lucas Gray and Brandon Mikel are behind the Allerton Brewing Company, which is currently under development in downtown Independence. Gray and Mikel met through their love of brewing at the Independence Brewers Union 334, a local homebrew club.
Gray had been a homebrewer for 10 years, brewing his first beer in his dorm at Iowa State University, and Mikel literally brought the first beer he had ever brewed to his first brew club meeting two years ago.
How do two brewers with a love of beer take the next step to actually open a brewery? Through research and feasibility studies to make sure the dream could become a reality.
“I had been thinking about opening a brewery for around seven years. In 2018, when my wife Brenna and I were living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I took an eight-week course called Barley to Barrell that was specifically designed to learn how to open a brewery. With that knowledge and the research that I had done, I knew Independence was a great location to open a brewery. I just wasn’t ready to take it on by myself,” explained Gray.
That is where Mikel entered the picture. Though they had only known each other for less than a year, they both had the same goal and began talking about making it a reality.
“Once we decided we wanted to do this together in August of last year, things moved quickly. We knew we wanted to be in downtown Independence and began looking for a location. The location we are at was our first choice, but it took some time before it was available,” stated Mikel.
Once the location was secured, they began working on a name. “We wanted to pay tribute to the Rush Park era [19th Century horse racing in Buchanan County], and decided on Allerton Brewing Company. It is named after Allerton, the horse that set world racing records and was owned by Rush Park owner Charles W. Williams,” said Gray. Mikel agreed.
This choice is reflective of their business philosophy as well.
“It is not just about opening a brewery for us; it is also about bringing a business that will help enhance Independence’s downtown. It’s important for us to keep our business local when we can and support our local economy,” said Gray.
Since the announcement of the location and the name, Gray and Mikel have been spending a lot of time remodeling the interior of the building. The hope is to have Allerton Brewery ready to open by fall of 2020.
“We both work full-time jobs, so we are spending nights and weekends along with the help of family and friends to partially gut and rebuild the inside of the building,” explained Mikel.
They have exposed the original brick wall as well as the original wood floor, and are building a seating area, bar area. and the brewing room. The brewing room will have a window so customers can see the brewing process and setup.
Allerton Brewing is starting out as a one-barrel system with five fermenters and will brew two or three batches each week. Once the brewery is open, it will have standard beers available all of the time, including a Belgian single, an IPA, a Hefeweizen, a peanut butter stout, and a light beer. Gray and Mikel will also develop several different specialty beers to add to these standards on a rotating basis.
So, mark your calendars for this fall to welcome Buchanan County’s first brewery in 100 years!
To find out more about Allerton Brewing, go to www.allertonbeer.com or find them on Facebook. They are currently running an online store through Signs and More for Allerton Brewing Company.