No matter how big that 5,000+ number gets, all that really matters are those tiny, singular dots across the country — each its own cool, entrepreneurial roll of the dice. We can’t possibly write up something about all of them, but here’s a quick look at one.
Wages Brew Co. (WBCo) tells us it is the first and only microbrewery and taproom located in West Plains, Mo., and will be having its grand opening event on Saturday, Jan. 28 (preceded by a Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting on Jan. 27). This event is free and open to the public and includes live music, extended hours, scheduled brewery tours and a food truck.
Let’s meet Wages Brewing
Wages Brewery began its journey when owner Phil Wages took an Operation JumpStart class at the Ozarks Small Business Incubator (OzSBI) in 2011. After five years of planning and fundraising, they held their soft opening on August 27, 2016.
“Now that we have learned the ropes, we are happy to announce our official grand opening,” Wages said. “We’ve been slowing building up to this, and with our recent taproom expansion [the taproom nearly doubled in size in November], we are able to add live music and can accommodate larger gatherings, so it just seems like now is the right time to open our doors to a larger audience.”
Wages Brewing has quickly become known for working locally, buying ingredients at the West Plains’ Farmer’s Market and D&D Produce as well as only carrying local wines (currently from McCullough House Winery from Thayer, Mo.), so it seems only fitting they have all local musicians and local food as the centerpiece of the grand opening.
Normally open from 12 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, WBCo will extend its hours to 9 p.m. for the grand opening event, and the three musical acts that will play that day embody what Wages hopes to represent in the community.
“These groups are all pretty different in terms of their sound which reflects the differences in the ales we make here at our brewery,” Wages said. “And I think that’s pretty cool because we aim to provide that place where people of all walks of life can come together, like an old-school neighborhood pub, a neutral zone.”
The brewery also makes its own handcrafted to sodas, to further that “all are welcome” feel.
What equipment are they using?
Phil Wages tells us that the brewery started out with a cobbled together system composed of two 15 gallon kettles and a 30 gallon Blichmann G2 as a mash tun along with a SABCO RIMSWizard.
“That system had lots of headaches, so we got our current system [pictured above] which is a customized 1-bbl Ruby Street Alpha electric system,” Wages said. “We’re currently doing one batch per brew day either into SS BrewTech 1-bbl fermenters [chilled via coils] or 15 gallon Spiedel plastic fermenters. Currently we can have 8 bbls going at any given time.”
The brewerywill be ordering more SS BrewTech fermenters soon with the goal to start brewing two batches a day for limited keg distribution.
Tell us about the beer!
But there’s nothing neutral about Wages’ beers. In the four months they’ve been open, they’ve released beers that range from the smooth and easy drinking Whatknot Ale to more adventurous beers made with ingredients like blood orange, dandelions, local blackberries, seeds of paradise and even chipotle peppers.
“Our goal has always been to have fun and be creative. Craft beer is all about experimentation, and we’re fortunate to have our crazy ideas received so well by so many in such a short period of time,” Wages said. “We look forward to sharing extra special releases at our grand opening, some of which will be in extremely short supply. And hint, yes, we will be bringing back the Blood Orange Whatknot.”
Also at their grand opening event will be Bootleggers BBQ food truck which previously served at Wages Brewing on New Year’s Eve. Their chef made a beer cheese dip with Wages’ top selling Landlocked IPA and paired it with freshly made warm pretzels.