In April, a chat with brewmaster Kevin Wright offered a conceptual snapshot of what to expect from Third Space Brewing, one of eight new breweries opening this summer.
At the time, we were unable to speak with co-owner Andrew Gehl, who was busy wrapping up business as a corporate litigator in Chicago so that he could make the move to Milwaukee to work full time at Third Space.
Gehl, who grew up in Elm Grove, says he comes by his association with the brewing industry honestly. After all, his family owned the Fuermann Brewery in Watertown in the 1850s.
He also has spent much of his adult life developing an increasing appreciation for craft beer. And when his friend, Wright, began brewing beer, Gehl says he had a feeling there was a future for the two in brewing.
“I really believe in Kevin and his ability to make quality, delicious beer,” he says. “And from the moment I tasted his first beer, I began asking, ‘When are you opening your own brewery? And when you do, give me a call’.”
The call came a number of months ago when Wright told Gehl he was moving back home to start a brewery. And a partnership began.
“One of the things we love about the resurgence of breweries across the nation and in Milwaukee is that it really brings us back to a time when there were small local breweries that served the areas in which they were built,” notes Gehl. “And that’s what we’re trying to conjure at Third Space.”
A peek inside
A peek at renderings of the space, produced by Dan Beyer Architects, gives us a more intimate sense of what such a “neighborhood brewery” is all about.
Inside what currently looks like an old run-down warehouse, Wright and Gehl are making progress on a 2,000-square foot tasting room, where they plan to start off a combination of core beers – which they plan to self-distribute to area venues – as well as offerings that won’t be available anywhere else.
“The goal is to make the taproom a unique experience,” notes Wright. “We’ll probably start with around six beers in the beginning and expand our offerings from there.”
Customers will be able to enjoy their beer both indoors and out thanks to a brewery design which incorporates an open concept joining tap room to brewery to beer garden.
The design takes liberal advantage of the historic industrial features of the building, which the owners have discovered served as the Milwaukee Wood Manufacturing Co. Carriage & Sleigh Material in the 1890s before being sold to Geuder Paeschke & Frey. They plan to combine those historical elements with modern features, imparting an updated look and feel.
Design elements include exposed brick, metal and wood accents, along with the integration of brand colors, including the green and grey from their logo.
The space also flows naturally into both an outside beer garden and the brewing quarters themselves, which are separated by a half-wall over which customers will be able to witness the brewing, fermentation and bottling process as well as chat with the brewer himself.
“A big part of the Third Space concept is really the interaction,” notes Wright. “So the open concept of the space is part of that.”
Gehl notes that it was also important that the space be family friendly.
“We’ll have designated play areas for kids,” he says, “and we’ll offer non-alcoholic options, including some basic soft drinks. We’re even thinking of brewing a rootbeer, eventually.”
The building will also house a 650-square foot private event space flanked by garage doors. Those doors will open into an expansive beer garden bordered by a freestanding Cream City Brick wall to the south that both creates visual interest and a division between the beer garden and the surrounding industrial spaces of the Menomonee Valley.
High tide raises all ships
The partners are admittedly excited to see the project moving forward. But we wondered if they were at all tentative about their plans, considering the sheer number of breweries moving into the city.
“People ask us a lot if we’re nervous with all the other breweries opening around the same time,” remarks Gehl as we discuss their plans. “And really, we’re not. People are excited, and it’s great that all these places are opening. And we’ve already been talking among ourselves and looking into collaborations and how to really work with some of the other breweries out there.”
Wright nods his head.
“And when there are eight brand new breweries, along with those who’ve been making beer for a while, it really drives innovation,” he adds. “It forces all of us to get better, be better and produce better beer. It’s actually good for everyone.”