The 4204 Main Street Brewing Co. is ramping up its brewery operations with beers now being distributed from its new production line on Belleville’s west side and the hiring of three new brewers, including one from Schlafly Beer in St. Louis.
And even before beers were produced in the new brewery, Belleville’s pioneer in the craft brewing industry was ranked as the 52nd fastest-growing brewpub in the nation in the May/June issue of The New Brewer journal published by the Brewers Association. The rankings are based on barrels of beer produced in the last three years at 4204’s brewpub and restaurant established in 2014 at its namesake address, 4204 W. Main St. in Belleville.
The company’s new brewery is at 6435 W. Main St. in the former Mad Pricer grocery store that 4204 converted into a banquet center, taproom and production facility. This project cost $3.2 million.
We’re pretty excited about what’s going on at 4204. We just look forward to a great ’17 and ’18, producing a lot of great beer for a lot of great people.
Co-owner Todd Kennedy
“We’re pretty excited about what’s going on at 4204,” said co-owner Todd Kennedy. “We just look forward to a great ’17 and ’18, producing a lot of great beer for a lot of great people.”
The banquet center and tap room with a menu that includes wings, flatbreads and paninis opened in March, but the brewing equipment took more time to get installed and tested.
Adam Patterson, the facilities manager who has been with 4204 since the brewpub opened, called the new digs “pretty cool.”
“Keeping up with demand on a brew pub system is very, very challenging,” Patterson said.
The original brewpub has a seven-barrel system while the new brewhouse has a twin-30 barrel system, giving 4204 the room to greatly increase production.
Kennedy highlighted two new beers in the works:
▪ Off Duty is an American lager now available in draft and will be released in cans on Sept. 11 in honor of first responders including police officers, firefighters and paramedics. The beer is called Off Duty because that’s when first responders can drink it. A portion of the proceeds from this beer will be donated to The BackStoppers, which provides financial assistance to the families of first responders who die in the line of duty or suffer a catastrophic injury performing their duty in the St. Louis metro area.
▪ Afroman is an American lager produced for the West Coast rapper known as Afroman. Kennedy said an attorney and producer who have worked with Afroman contacted 4204 about producing a beer that Afroman would like. One of Afroman’s hits, “Because I Got High,” has more than 91 million views on YouTube. A new distribution deal is being worked out that would make Afroman beer available at the rapper’s concerts across the country, Kennedy said. “This thing could be big for us,” he said.
4204 Main Street Brewing reported 570 barrels produced in 2014, 1,300 in 2015 and 3,000 in 2016. This year, with the new brewery on line, Kennedy said 4204 is expected to double production to 6,000 barrels of beer.
I’m kind of an adventurous guy. It sounded fun to get in a young, fast growing company.
Brewer Keith Hefley
Kennedy said he would be “excited” if 4204 could produce 30,000 barrels annually in the next five years.
You can find 4204 beers in stores across Missouri and in two-thirds of Illinois. Kennedy expects to cover all of Illinois later this year.
Along with the two Belleville locations and a restaurant in Alton, 4204 employs about 170 people, Kennedy said.
Three of the employees have been hired in recent weeks as brewers.
Dustin Luber was named the head brewer for 4204 while Bill McFarland and Keith Hefley were hired as brewers.
“We hired the talent,” Kennedy said. “To have great beer, you have to have great brewers.”
Luber, who is from Highland, spent 10 years working at Schlafly Beer in St. Louis. Luber said it was a difficult decision to leave Schlafly but he wants to “help bring the metro-east and the St. Louis brewing community together.”
McFarland has worked with the Ferguson, Mo., Brewing Co. and a brewery in the Atlanta area. He said he was sold on Kennedy’s “vision” for the brewery.
Hefley, who has worked with breweries in Colorado, said he joined 4204 because, “I’m kind of an adventurous guy. It sounded fun to get in a young, fast-growing company.”
Here are the number of barrels of beer 4204 Main Street Brewing Co. has produced:
- 2014: 570
- 2015: 1,300
- 2016: 3,000
- 2017: 6,000 expected