Wiseacre plans larger brewery Downtown

By Updated: November 23, 2018 4:58 PM CT | Published: November 23, 2018 4:15 PM CT
<p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Wiseacre Brewing founders and brothers&nbsp;<strong>Kellan Bartosch (left) and&nbsp;Davin Bartosch </strong>plan to build a 40,000-square-foot brewery on vacant land linking the southeast edge of Downtown with South City.&nbsp;</b>(Daily Memphian file)</span>

Wiseacre Brewing founders and brothers Kellan Bartosch (left) and Davin Bartosch plan to build a 40,000-square-foot brewery on vacant land linking the southeast edge of Downtown with South City. (Daily Memphian file)

Wiseacre Brewing Co. plans to build a second, larger brewery Downtown. Abel Parcels LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wiseacre, is seeking a Board of Adjustment variance to build on 2.5 acres at the southeast edge of Downtown. B.B. King Boulevard, East Butler and Vance avenues and Abel Street border the site.

It's the second brewery in two weeks announced to be built on the more economically distressed edges of surging Downtown Memphis. Grind City Brewing Co. plans to build an $11.3 million brewery just north of Downtown, between North Second Street and the Wolf River Harbor.

Wiseacre is not vacating its 5-year-old brewery at 2783 Broad, but will convert that Binghampton site to a smaller, specialty brewhouse, the letter of intent to the Board of Adjustment states.

An investor, Kemmons Wilson Cos., provided funding for the Downtown brewery and will support “future strategic growth," according to a press release from Wiseacre.

“We reached capacity at our original location on Broad Avenue more than two years ago, just three years after we opened it," Wiseacre co-founder Kellan Bartosch said in a release. “We have had distribution opportunities that we had to turn down because we didn’t have production capacity.

“It’s only fitting that we find another location in our hometown to continue to grow. We are excited to be a part of the renaissance happening in the South Main corridor and look forward to working with the Downtown Memphis Commission to make our vision come to life.”

The site comprises a block of vacant land except for a 90-year-old commercial building at the northeast corner of Vance and Abel.

The new Patterson Flats apartments were built opposite the site's southeast corner, and the back of the relatively new 2nd Street Flats apartments is across B.B. King from where Wiseacre plans to build. The Happy Mexican restaurant and National Civil Rights Museum are a block or two to the west.

The zoning variance is required because the beer production planned for Downtown – 80,000-barrel capacity – is too big to quality for a microbrewery, which would be allowed. The Board of Adjustment will hear the case at 2 p.m. on Dec. 19 at City Hall.

Wiseacre was in negotiations with the city in 2016 to establish a large brewery operation in the mothballed Mid-South Coliseum. That plan might have included other complementary retail spaces in the former Fairgrounds arena, but after conducting a feasibility study, Wiseacre announced in early 2017 that it was not financially prudent to move forward with the idea. 

The new Downtown facility “would accommodate a much greater production brewery than the current production on Broad Ave. while creating a much larger and inviting tap room experience in the downtown area," the letter of intent states.

The 43,000 square feet would include a “full-scale tap room, 80,000 (barrel) production brewery, and a compact storage facility."

Abel Parcels owns all of the site except a few parcels, which are under contract to be purchased by January.

“This location connects South Main to the new South City development," the letter states. “Through the Wiseacre development, we hope to play a pivotal role in the revitalization of the surrounding community.

“The project will eliminate an entire block of voided earth, increase property values, and link the Civil Rights Museum to greater parts of downtown," the letter states.

“The plan will create a fun, art-friendly environment with various public works of art and hopes to foster creativity and development in the surrounding area. The project will improve perimeter sidewalks and landscape as well as providing a beautification project along with south wall of the facility. …"

Since Bartosch and his brother, Davin, backed by Frank Smith, founded Wiseacre, it has become the largest craft beer producer in Tennessee, the Wiseacre release states.

The second brewery will enable increased production for Wiseacre’s year-round beers and allow the company to be more creative in brewing beers at the Broad Avenue site, the release states.

“From a technical perspective, the new equipment is thrilling," Davin states in the prepared statement. “The more you can control the brewing process, the better the beer will be. We want to make the best beer in the world and make it in Memphis.

“Kellan and I have always loved South Main and its character. Many people have paved the way to make Downtown and South Main what they are. We stand on their shoulders and look forward to providing an authentic Memphis experience in the Downtown facility.”

Wiseacre on Broad makes more than 150 beers. More information is available at


Commercial Real Estate Craft Beer Downtown
Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey covers business news for The Daily Memphian. A Tupelo, Mississippi, native, he graduated from Mississippi State University. He's worked in journalism for 40 years and has lived in Midtown for 36 years.

Comment On This Story

Section Emails

Sign up to get the latest articles from the Business section.