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Brewing Beyond Springfield: Nixa gains new microbrewery, while Great Escape plans Republic expansion

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 The glass for the southwest Missouri craft beer market appears to be far from full, as one new brewery has opened in Nixa and another established company announced plans for a second location next year.

Following a soft opening, Untouchables Brewery LLC fully launched April 22 at 105 W. Sherman Way, Ste. 101, in the Champions Landing shopping center. The new venture joins Uncle Bob’s Brewpub, which opened in 2020, as the lone breweries in Nixa. 

The start of Untouchables Brewery comes on the heels of plans by Springfield-based Great Escape Beer Works LLC to expand into Republic. Co-owner Jake Duensing said the Galloway Village business, which opened in 2018, is targeting an early 2023 launch for a new brewery and production facility.

Nixa’s new brewery aims to transport visitors back to the Prohibition era and is decorated as a speakeasy from the 1920s said owner Jon Huff. Staff, which includes himself and wife Sherry, are even dressed to fit the concept.

“I just thought this was a unique theme that’s not all over the place,” he said. “Incorporating it into the brewery we thought was neat and would go over well.”

The microbrewery is starting out with eight beers, a hard cider, hard seltzer and a root beer on draft – all produced in-house. Food also is on the menu with pork and chicken sliders, tacos, flatbread pizza, nachos and a Chicago-style hot dog among options. 

Huff said the beers have 1920s-inspired names: The cherry lime wheat is dubbed Drop a Dime, the chocolate stout is Stool Pigeon and the lager is Bootlegger Bobogins.

“We’ll probably do a rotation of beers since we’re a small batch,” he said, estimating the brewery will initially produce 55-75 barrels per year. “Right now in the fermenters, I have a lemon shandy and an orange wheat.”

It’s a first-time ownership venture for Huff, who retired in 2019 after 17 years working for the Nixa Police Department. He spent most of his career as a detective. 

Huff said home brewing began as a hobby after retirement with the concept for Untouchables Brewery originating in his garage. He went to Show-Me Brewing LLC in Springfield and visited with co-owner Andy Pearsall, who taught him how to brew his first batch. 

“Over the past three years, I’ve been tinkering with the brews, and this is where we’re at now,” Huff said, noting startup costs are roughly $70,000.

Another Escape 
Great Escape Beer Works’ expansion into Republic will pave the way for statewide distribution, Duensing said. The company’s beers currently are distributed in retail locations and restaurants throughout southwest Missouri by Heart of America Beverage Co. 

“We’re going to increase production, and we’re talking with some of the distributors across the state right now,” he said. 

Great Escape is in roughly 100 retailers, bars and restaurants, Duensing said. Some retailers include Macadoodles, Brown Derby and Price Cutter, while Farmers Gastropub and Houlihan’s are among eateries that have its beer on tap. 

Duensing said Great Escape Beer Works purchased the former Burk Bridge Co. Property on the north side of Highway 60, south of the James River Freeway interchange. The 6.3-acre lot at 6021 W. U.S. Highway 60 has two buildings: One will be used for a 16,000-square-foot production facility, and the other, an 11,000-square-foot structure, will become a taproom and offices, he said.

“They will give us a lot of room for growth,” Duensing said, noting the production warehouse will probably be roughly 50% full upon opening. 

Duensing, who owns Great Escape with wife Jen and silent partners, declined to disclose the purchase price for the Republic site or the company’s planned investment.

“We thought we could probably get in a little quicker by renovating a building as opposed to putting up some new construction,” he said. “We were pretty emboldened by the local growth in that area.”

Andrew Nelson, city of Republic Builds Department administrator, said officials with the municipality and Great Escape met on a few occasions to discuss properties and determine which might best suit the company’s needs.

“We are thrilled that they chose to invest in Republic and look forward to the redevelopment of the former Burke Bridge property,” he said via email. 

The new facility will have the capacity to increase Great Escape’s annual production by 15,000 barrels, a figure Duensing said will take “a while to get there.” Great Escape ranked No. 4 on Springfield Business Journal’s January list of the area’s largest breweries, with 1,128 barrels produced in 2021. Company officials at the time reported a 127% increase in barrels produced over 2020. Duensing declined to disclose annual revenue. 

Great Escape’s plans for Republic also include an outdoor beer garden, indoor miniature golf course and a small kitchen with a limited menu, he said, along with on-site spaces for food trucks.

Duensing said the company’s 3-year-old, two-story, 3,000-square-foot establishment in Galloway Village will remain in operation and serve as a “pilot brewery.”

“All of our initial recipe ideas will probably come out of our Galloway location,” he said, adding the brews they decide to move into full production will be made in Republic. 

Initial conversations for a second location started early last year, Duensing said. Great Escape also looked at Springfield, Ozark, Nixa, Rogersville and Strafford but decided Republic best fit its needs.

“It’s a dream come true, really,” he said. “I’ve been in the brewing profession for about 12 years, and I’ve always dreamed of having a brewery like we have now, and like we’re going to have in several months.”

Great Escape will soon join fellow Springfield brewery 4 by 4 Brewing Co. in new facility preparation. Construction started last fall for 4 by 4’s 12,000-square-foot brewery, taproom and event center near Fremont Hills Country Club. The company plans to open its second location by year’s end, according to past SBJ reporting. 

The year also started with a brewery opening, as Battlefield gained its first brewery with the January launch of Wire Road Brewing Co. LLC.

Getting settled 
In Nixa, Huff said new construction wasn’t a desire as he sought out locations for Untouchables Brewery. It took about nine months before he landed on the 2,200-square-foot space near the Main Street and Tracker Road intersection. 

“If you’re going to open a business, you want to do something that you enjoy and have fun with,” he said. 

Unlike Great Escape, Huff said he’s not looking at retail and commercial production for his beers.

“That’s not even a goal at this point,” he said. “We just wanted to get this up and running. It’s baby steps.”

Digital Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.  

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