Why Change Was The Process Wiseacre Sought for New Facility

The Brothers Bartosch won’t be labeled sticks in the mud.The duo that launched Wiseacre in 2013 felt a need to shake up what the Memphis-based brewery launched as it settled into its new home this year, labeled WISEACRE2.

“Having the opportunity to design something from the ground up is exhilarating, but brand-new also makes it challenging to have character,” explained Kellan Bartosch. “We went the other direction with WISEACRE2, focusing on art but also adding some techy elements and some just odd stuff.

Bartosch likened it to when a band has a second album and people say, ‘It’s not like the first one!’

“We are people who believe change is good and that is manifest here,” Bartosch said of the new place. “We love our original facility WISEACRE-OG — it feels like a Lo-Fi backyard party and I still think that is rad.

“At the same time, a lot has changed in our lives and the world…and just doing the same thing again seems boring.”

The new brewery taproom has lighting effects for both indoor and outdoor signs, a sculpture garden with neon busts, dioramas, a bubble wall, and a huge 3D cuckoo clock, to name a few.

“We definitely didn’t want WISEARE2 to be reclaimed wood and the same bar stools that WISEACRE-OG has,” Bartosch said. “To me, the locations are alike because they are both us. And not just Davin and me. Us also means Rachel Briggs, who is the artist who does all of our cans, our identity; she is a common thread throughout. Her art makes the places similar and is expressed in both.

“One is just a lo-fi version of us and one is future-arty us. Blondie was punk, disco, and hip-hop depending on the album or song … but it was always Blondie and it always felt right to the listener. ”

The launch of a new facility that wrapped up construction in April is still going to be new in a lot of ways as the brewery has yet to really christen it with a packed house due to the pandemic. Yet that stagnant point has gone away and growth is back on Bartosch’s mind. The 40,000 square-foot facility will be able to produce 100,000 barrels of beer per year, nearly quintupling the brewery’s previous capacity.

“A lot of markets we had planned on launching once this facility was finished initially said ‘let’s wait until COVID is over,’ but now almost all of them have come back and said “COVID may be here a bit longer, but we still love your beer and want to work with you guys,’ ” Bartosch said. “We feel the same way, it is challenging times … but we don’t want to sit on our hands. Let’s keep trying to grow! And I am not saying let’s go have launch parties in bars or be careless, but let’s shift our focus to the off-premise and get creative. If we can grow now, it’ll mean more later.”

That means the brewery had launched 16-ounce cans and 12-packs during the pandemic. Bartosch said both required some investment and a fast learning curve, but they’ve presented new opportunities to sell in the ​off-​premise more than it had before.

“We have a few other new beers and new packages coming out in 2021 that we are very excited about,” he said, adding that Wiseacre is investing some in off-premise marketing materials so it can connect better with retailers and customers.

“The packaging innovation is a natural progression for us and I think the marketing plans will be a lot of fun!”

Another shakeup was the switch from the brewery’s original brewhouse and adding in an automated, four-vessel BrauKon, which was a big change from the brewery’s original 20-barrel brewhouse in the first location.

“Automation is great for consistency and limiting errors,” Davin Bartosch said. “But, when you make mistakes, they are amplified. The extremely high quality of the new brewhouse gives us malt extract efficiencies in the high 90% range as compared with our brewery on Broad Ave. usually being in the low 80s. We have had to use less malt and hops, proportionally, in order to replicate our beers.”

That means Wiseacre is making better — not just more consistent — beers at the new facility.

“We make a whole lot of Tiny Bomb, and that is what our new brewery is designed to do​,” Davin said. ​”​We are confident that we are currently making the best Tiny Bomb we have made.​”​

​Wiseacre is working with some ​local Memphis ​friends in a new kitchen partnership as well.

Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman are James Beard-nominated chefs that have taken similar career paths as ​the Bartosch brother​s, Davin said.

“My brother and I both have limited restaurant experience, and it is amazing to have chefs of this caliber to team up with​,” Davin said​. ​From a logistical perspective, the Little Bettie’s staff will be WISEACRE employees but will be managed by Ticer, Hudman and Parker Rose.

​”​When it comes to restaurant management, Kellan and I know enough to know that we don’t know enough — best to leave it to the pros, which Andy, Michael, and Parker definitely are.​”

Photos Courtesy Wiseacre

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