Sandhills Brewing Company to open Mission microbrewery this weekend

The Sandhills Brewing Company team at the Mission microbrewery are (from left): Joe Cizek, Lua Williamson, Jonathan Williamson, Marvin Williamson and Tyler Lau.

Sandhills Brewing Company is opening in downtown Mission this weekend. The microbrewery at 5612 Johnson Drive opens for business on Friday, April 26.

Founded by twin brothers Jonathan and Pippin Williamson, Sandhills Brewing Company opened their first microbrewery in Hutchinson, Kansas. Jonathan Williamson and the brothers’ business partner Joe Cizek, who have more than two decades combined of brewing experience, will run the Mission brewery.

Sandhills Brewing Company
The new microbrewery is located at 5612 Johnson Drive.

The brewery is the third to open on Johnson Drive in recent weeks, following Servaes Brewing Company and Transport Brewery in downtown Shawnee.

On opening day, Sandhills Brewing Company will offer eight to 12 beers on tap, including a few beers that are brewed at their Hutchinson location. They plan to have a variety of oak-aged craft beers with a focus on sour, hoppy and mixed-fermentation beers.

Designed for an intimate, family-friendly environment, the taproom is filled with natural light and features hand-crafted murals of Kansas birds (for which the craft beers are named). The barrels of beer still in the brewing process sit just behind the bar, adding to the taproom’s open floor plan concept.

“All of the beer is brewed 20 feet from where it’s served,” said Jonathan Williamson, adding that all production, packaging and serving will be in the same building. Their goal is to brew 250 barrels by the end of the year and 500 barrels annually after that.

Sandhills Brewing Company
Sandhills Brewing will release new beers frequently, including the Kestrel, a tart wheat beer

Sandhills patrons can expect new beers to be released frequently — most recently the Swift Saison — and may recognize some of the company’s signature beers: the Chickadee, a sour Berliner-Weisse; the Junco, a New England india pale ale; and the Barred Owl, a Scottish export.

Williamson and Cizek, who first met through the Johnson County Home Brewing Society, spent the past nine months gutting the interior of the space of the Mission microbrewery. With the help of friends and family, they designed the brewery and built most of the taproom furnishings by hand.

Sandhills will work with local food trucks and restaurants, firstly Urban Prairie Cafe next door, to meet Johnson County’s requirement that 30 percent of revenue come from food sales. They’re encouraging customers to bring their own food on opening weekend.

Sandhills Brewing Company
Co-owners of Sandhills Brewing Company Joe Cizek (left) and Jonathan Williamson.

One challenge has been dealing with the echo; the small space, which is about the size of or even smaller than a coffee shop, can get noisy as more people enter the space. Equally challenging will be keeping up with demand; Williamson, who owns a portion of Transport Brewery in downtown Shawnee, said he’s heard that Transport as well as Limitless Brewing in Lenexa have both been “swamped,” so they anticipate that business will be good.

“We’re not going out of our way to advertise,” Williamson said. “We’re really trying to ease into it. Not only do we want to not get overwhelmed ourselves; we want our customers to have a good experience. It’s hard to have a good experience if you’re standing shoulder to shoulder and you can’t even move in the space.”

The taproom will have board games but no TV, as the owners hope to foster an environment for conversation and face-to-face connections.

The microbrewery’s business hours will start out small — Fridays and Saturdays only — but Cizek and Williamson plan to gradually expand business hours and offer packs of beer to take out. Current hours of operation are: 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday.