Wicked Barley Brewing Company

August 29, 2015 9 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

From EatDrinkJax.com: Talking craft beer with Philip Maple of Wicked Barley Brewing Company.

Article from EatDrinkJax.com

1. Can you tell us about Wicked Barley Brewing Company?

We’re going to be a local Jacksonville brewery, tap room and restaurant. We’ve secured a property on Goodbys Creek at Baymeadows Road in Southside (map) and our goal is to open in late summer or early fall of 2015.

The brewery will consist of a 15 barrel brewing system. We’ll serve about 10 taps of our own beers on location, as well as another 10 taps or so of guest beers. In addition to a tap room and restaurant we’ll also have an outdoor patio, a beer garden, and a dock.

Wicked Barley building plan

2. Who are the owners?

Brett Baker, Tobin Turney and I are the majority owners and then we have a minority owner, Brad Sueflohn. That’s in addition to a few silent investors.

3. How did you select your location?

I've lived in Mandarin for probably 7 years and one of the other partners has lived nearby too. We both love craft beer and we’ve always been saying that we hate having to go downtown to enjoy local craft beer. We also loved the idea of putting something on the water. Jacksonville has a lot of excellent waterfront but very few really great places to enjoy a beer or a meal on the water.

Even though we knew what we wanted, we had a hard time finding a location that was affordable. It was kind of funny - Engine 15 was looking for an expansion property and we were behind them at almost every point, looking at locations they previously viewed. Everywhere we looked at was a mess, requiring extensive work to fix up. We got pretty far along with one property that was going to be pretty close to Engine 15’s new location, but it just didn’t work out. We were really bummed because we thought a place would be easier to find and we spent close to 6 months looking and always came up empty handed. I started Googling empty lots because we thought we should think about building and one of the first places I found was our current location. I was amazed - it had water access and it was in the area where we really wanted to build - but none of us thought we could afford it. We’d been working with the Small Business Development Center at UNF and they helped us to understand what was possible financially. So, we got together a down payment and put an offer on the lot.

4. Then what happened?

Well, it wasn't smooth sailing from there at all. We probably went through 100 scenarios where we thought that was it - that we’d lost the lot, or a small business loan wouldn’t happen. We'd committed to the lot on blind faith. Our initial deposit gave us a 60 day grace period to secure funding but things never move as fast as you want so we had to scratch and claw to get an extension on the lot. That took more money. Even with that we still needed a second extension, and that took even more money, which was used just to hold our lot contract. We were all taking on a lot of debt for rezoning, architectural plans, down payments, and numerous legal teams, even before we knew the ultimate loan would come through, or even before we’d fully secured the lot. We could have taken another route with less hassles that would have let us open faster and with less risk - but we loved the location and thought it was worth fighting for.

5. When did you finally know you’d make it?

In September [2014]. Everything had come down to the wire. Thanks to timely help from some silent investors we were able to get over the hump to get what we needed to secure our small business loan. But it was literally done at the very last minute. Myself and Tobin were at a Bono’s in Middleburg. We’d just brewed some beer and were kind of down thinking the deal would never happen. The bank kept telling us we’d know any day but things kept getting pushed out for over a month. I was sitting at the bar when my phone rang. It was our guy at the bank and he was acting really macabre and speaking in a monotone. My heart was sinking and then he yells out “you got it!” I literally stood up in Bono’s and started screaming. All these people were staring at me, wondering what was going on. I broke down crying and Tobin and I were hugging each other. If we don’t screw it up this is really life changing for us. We felt like we’d won the lotto.

6. What made you want to own a brewery?

We live and breathe craft beer and we all have such a passion for this. We’ve visited craft beer places all around the US and members of my family have been brewing since the early ’90’s.

Our inspiration for Wicked Barley Brewing is Stone Brewery in San Diego - they are the Mecca of craft brew. They have a 12,000 square foot property with a huge beer garden out back. Families go there with their kids and dogs to hang out in the grass, have good food, drink good beer, and listen to music. After seeing that I knew we could never settle for a warehouse setup or just lease some place, although there were a lot of times when we almost defaulted to that. When we found this location everything came together and lit a fire under us - we decided we just wouldn’t take no for an answer.

7. When will you open?

We hope to open in August of 2015, but you never know how construction goes. We anticipate an opening date during the first half of 2016.

8. Have you had any issues getting zoning permits from the City?

Not really. I have to tip my hat to the other breweries in town because they paved the way for us. The City Council was unbelievably nice to us. We went into this thinking “here we go - this is never going to happen,” and they actually took us on with open arms, which was really nice.

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