Jacksonville may soon have a craft brewery on the square. Sean Meek is planning on a placing a 10-tap craft beer taproom of regional brewers in the old Playhouse On the Square location on the east side of the square. “The plan is to put in what is called a pico-brewery. The capacity is going to be less than 1 barrel of beer. A barrel is equivalent to 31 gallons. We are going to be producing in a single batch than 31 gallons. The intent is to have a taproom associated with it. In total, we are looking at having approximately 10 taps and they will all be craft beer made by regional breweries – Springfield, Alton, real regional and local breweries. We will start with a little heavier on the guest taps as opposed to our own as we ramp up the recipes to find out what the Jacksonville area enjoys to drink.”
Pico Breweries use up to a 3 barrel system for brewing purposes. If a pico brewery produces a new barrel of beer every other day, which would be considered to be high output, they would produce just over 500 barrels of beer per year. A micro brewery by definition produces about 100,000 barrels of beer by comparison. Hand of Fate Brewery in Petersburg falls in between the nano-brewery and microbrewery category producing more than 2000 barrels annually but less than 100,000. Most pico breweries do not offer distribution of their products beyond their own taprooms. Nano and micro breweries usually have regional, and in some cases, national distribution stretching across many states.
Meek says the 10 taps will slowly transition from guest taps to in-house beers as they ramp up production over time. Meek says they will also limit hours. “Limited hours will initially be Fridays 4PM-9PM and Saturdays 11AM-9PM. The intent is not to have another bar but to have a craft brewery that happens to have a taproom. It’s more of a place to come and sample the different beers that are available rather than spending extended times drinking. I don’t envision we will be open much past 9PM if at all. I don’t think we will expand the hours too much. It’s really just a weekend social scene that we’re looking for that will close relatively early. We are going to encompass the Court Street portion of the property, which is right across the street from the Amvets as a beer garden. We will have an outdoor space available, and it will continually be used as a multi-use area. We will be looking to license that as part of the brewery as well.”
Meek says that they have a few additional plans as well as some licensure to complete before opening their doors, including a class 1 brewery license from the state which prohibits the sale of spirits and hard liquor from the facilities. Meek says that they also will not be expanding into different types of packaging like bottles or cans for take out. He says that they will have some off premise options to sell to customers who wish to take their craft beer home by offering growlers and the newly popularized crowlers. Meek says that the pours for each will still be on demand.
Meek did not provide a timetable for opening during the approval of his city liquor license at the Jacksonville City Council meeting on Monday evening.