Sandhills Brewing plans to open nanobrewery, taproom in downtown Mission

Leah Wankum - July 2, 2018 7:38 am
Two brothers are turning the former Sue’s Accessories space on Johnson Drive into a new microbrewery and taproom.

Another small brewery and taproom is in the works for the area — this time in downtown Mission.

Jonathan Williamson and his brother Charles just opened Sandhills Brewing a few months ago in Hutchinson, Kan. Now, they’ve found a good spot along Johnson Drive to create “a little neighborhood taproom” — and a second nanobrewery to boot.

Charles (left) and Jonathan Williamsom are bringing a brewery and taproom to Johnson Drive in Mission. Photo credit Sandhills Brewery.

The Williamson brothers are taking over the space at 5612 Johnson Drive (formerly Sue’s Accessories, which closed after authorities raided it for selling counterfeit goods), just down the street from Twisted Sisters, which closed its doors last weekend. Jonathan Williamson said he anticipates public discussion and review of their special permit application to brew and serve beer by the Mission planning commission July 23.

“If you happen to live in downtown Mission within 200 feet of the space, we’d love to have your support at the planning commission meeting,” Jonathan Williamson added.

It’s part of a wave of brewery-taproom businesses coming to the Shawnee Mission area. Transport Brewery is working to transform a space next to the Aztec theatre on Johnson Drive in Shawnee into a microbrewery and taproom. And Limitless Brewery has plans for a similar operation in LenexaMartin City Brewing Company just opened a taproom at Mission Farms.

Construction and installation of brewing equipment for the Sandhills space should also begin this month, Jonathan said. They plan to produce about 120 barrels for each location by the end of this year, upping that to 150 per year per location in the future.

Besides building the nanobrewery on site, the brothers also plan to create a taproom and work with neighboring restaurants and food trucks — not just to satisfy Kansas’s “30 percent rule” by making at least 30 percent of their revenue from non-alcoholic food and drinks, but also to “have a collaborative aspect to the neighborhood.”

Jonathan Williamson said Johnson Drive was both an ideal and affordable location for the brothers, not just for its “small downtown” feel but also because it’s walkable for neighbors and out-of-town visitors.

For the Williamson brothers, an ideal taproom will create space for conversation, similar to the traditional public houses in Europe.

“This is a place for actually sitting down and enjoying time with people, not just a bar for party’s sake,” Jonathan Williamson said, adding that the bar will not have the “traditional” late-night hours of bars in Westport and downtown Kansas City. “It’s a community gathering point, and that means we’re going to be open more during the day and into the evening. It’s not a sports bar; it’s not a music venue. It’s a conversation venue.”

Jonathan Williamson, who lives in Lenexa, plans to run day-to-day operations at the Mission location, which they anticipate opening by the end of the year. Charles Williamson will continue running the Hutchinson brewery, which is getting a taproom soon.

Brewing started as a project about three years ago, Jonathan said, adding that they got licensed to brew in February of this year and opened for business in April. The brothers typically carry three to four beers on tap at a time and use a “mixed fermentation” style in oak barrels that were formerly used for spirits and wines.

“Most of the beers are brewed with a combination of yeast and bacteria so that they produce a deep level of complexity that typically is sour but not necessarily,” Jonathan Williamson said, adding that those beers take six to 12 months to produce.

The Williamsons’ flagship beers, named for three kinds of Kansas birds, are the Chickadee, a bright, tropical-flavored Berliner weisse; the Barred Owl, a malty Scottish export; and the Junco, a hoppy New England-style India pale ale.

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