Better Know a Memphian: Kellan & Davin Bartosch of Wiseacre Brewing
They're brothers, they're unpretentious, and while they're a little bit silly, they're completely serious about their beer.
Meet Kellan and Davin Bartosch, the sibling masterminds of Wiseacre Brewing, a new Memphis craft brewery set to open on Broad Ave. later this year.
Congrats on the new brewery! When do you guys plan to open?
Davin: Thanks! As soon as we can. Unfortunately, there is a lot of red tape involved with us getting the doors open. We are deciding on equipment and working hard to get this thing moving.
Kellan: Yes. My head's spinning: engineers, federal government, ninjas. I'm pretty dehydrated these days because I drink coffee in the morning, talk all day, and drink beer at night. I need to be more hydrated if we want to get this open soon.
What made you choose the Broad Ave. location? Where else did you look?
Kellan: We had fun looking at spaces throughout Midtown, but we had our mind on Broad before we ever came back to Memphis. There is a lot of great synergy happening with Broad and Binghampton from restaurants & bars, other great, creative businesses, the Greenline coming through with a focus on the neighborhood from the city as well. We needed to find the right building and our camp counselor from childhood Andy Cates found one that matched all the things we were looking for.
What kind of beers do you like drinking?
Davin: I like almost all styles. It's really hard to nail anything down because I have such a short attention span for beer. I love IPA, Belgian Trippel, British Bitter, and Pilsner. I tend to dislike anything too sweet or overwhelmed by any particular ingredient. Balance is the most difficult thing to do and I have the utmost appreciation for beers that are easy to drink yet have complex flavor profiles.
Kellan: Ditto on enjoying all styles. There seems to be a learning curve in beer where people are generally exposed to mass produced beers in their coming-of-age/college diaspora/whatever. As people begin to experiment, overly aggressive and bitter styles can scare people away but more approachable styles like velvety hefeweizens and biscuity ambers serve as a great bridge. The best beer drinkers I know enjoy every style and can pick out good & bad versions of each style. That said, Barleywine, Saison, Imperial Stout & IPA are probably my favorites.
What sets Wiseacre beers apart from other local or craft beers?
Kellan: This is an odd question to answer. Most people's reaction is comparative to what they see with other Memphis breweries, but we'd rather compare Memphis to other cities in terms of a beer scene. [Brewing] is an industry that supports and builds each other up. We're too small a percentage of the market share to fight amongst each other.
We'd love for Memphis to be known as a city with a great beer scene and we are going to do our best at Wiseacre to help create that. Davin and I have worked our tails off moving all over and getting great jobs and experience so we could do this as best we possibly can, and Davin has gone to every extreme in education and practice to be great at what he does.
(Kellan shows off his custom Wiseacre shoes.)
Which part of the process of opening the brewery are you most excited about?
Davin: I'm really excited about getting back to my life's passion of making beer. I've been off since December, and it is really hard on me. I love the process and design of beers, and I love working hard. Manual labor is a sincere love of mine. I spend the vast majority of my days scrubbing, cleaning, moving grain, stirring, and generally making a better home for yeast and their yeasty activities. It's amazing to be able to design your dream brewery and build it from the ground up. All of the equipment in our brewery will be selected and produced to my specifications. We are going to have the nicest brewery in the southeast.
Kellan: Drinking Davin's beer.
Tell me a little about your tap room. How many taps will you have? How is it different than a regular bar?
Kellan: The taproom is still in a planning stage, but we're thinking eight taps or so. Davin and I have been road tripping and visiting breweries all over the country for years and tap rooms are always a fun part of the experience in visiting a brewery. There are always unique offerings at the tap room that you'll never see out in the market so it serves a purpose in building excitement and education about beer and brewing in general.
Our taproom will most likely start out as a Thursday/Friday/Saturday thing that closes at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., but we envision the space being used for events and fun stuff from time to time as well. We're not trying to be a SportsCenter bar or a discotheque and we'd love to send people on their way to other great establishments in Memphis. We've sat in tap rooms from San Diego to Maine dreaming of what ours might be like one day and can't wait to share more when we know more.
(Wiseacre's future backyard / patio area)
Once you guys are up and running, where will you be able to buy Wiseacre beers?
Kellan: We've started meeting people around town at restaurants and bars and it's great to have excitement reciprocated. Being in this industry for a bit, that's when things can really start to pick up for a town. You just need people who care. We could walk into establishments and tell our story and have an amazing product, but if the people on the other end of the conversation just shrug their shoulders, it gets tough. Thankfully, Memphians are excited about this city and want to support their own. Once we get closer to having product we'll have a better idea of where folks will be able to get their first pints of Wiseacre.
Are you planning to offer tours?
Davin: Absolutely. We plan on doing tons of education, because it's extremely important to us. Appreciation and education go hand in hand. This may be a stretch, but take mayonnaise for example. It's really a pretty simple thing, an emulsion of oil and acid. But, if you learn how to make it, and you understand the principles at hand, then you can enjoy an amazing fresh sandwich spread, and you realize that there's much versatility in the world of mayonnaise. Hellmans is just white vinegar and vegetable oil, but you could make it with sherry vinegar and olive oil. You could throw a garlic clove in there. You could make it with lemon juice and peanut oil. You might even go so far as to make it with bacon fat and balsamic vinegar if you wanted something rich. Then you think to yourself, "Holy $@#!, I always liked mayonnaise, but this is the best mayonnaise I have ever had. I can't believe I have been haphazardly coating buns with this stuff and never thinking about what an amazing thing this is. This mayonnaise is an absolutely divine substance."
We would love for more people to think about beer like I think of mayo (although it is significantly more scientifically complicated than mayonnaise).
That said, I love giving tours. The brewery is a fascinating place and the magic of turning sugar into alcohol is something that should be explained to everyone.