The brewing and bottling spirit of Collinsville could be on the verge of a renaissance, thanks to Derik Reiser and his wife, Whitney.
On a cold and cloudy Wednesday morning, the metro-east couple beamed with pride as they spoke about plans to open a microbrewery and craft distillery in downtown Collinsville.
Located at 115 E. Clay St., the former home of the Collinsville Herald newspaper will receive a $2.8 million makeover this spring. Reiser said $650,000 will come from tax increment financing.
The city approved the redevelopment agreement Feb. 12.
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“There’s a rich and almost forgotten history of brewing and distilling in Collinsville,” Derik Reiser said. “It was one of the first areas settled in Madison County. Some of the first businesses were breweries and distilleries.”
To honor that history and the story behind the building, the brewery will operate under the name Old Herald Brewing Co., while the craft distillery will be known as Ardent Spirits, Inc.
Construction inside the 15,000-square-foot space is expected to begin next month, Reiser said, and if everything goes as planned, the kitchen, event space and taproom will open this summer.
The production process will be on display in the space, but the Reisers also want to create a place where people can come and relax.
“It’s not just a place to tour," Derik Reiser said. “It’s a place where you can hang out and enjoy the beverages.”
Craft beer will be brewed on one side. On the opposite end, a distillery will produce vodka, gin and whiskey. The whiskey, which takes time to age, will not be available right away, but customers will be able try craft gin and infused vodkas.
Whitney Reiser envisions a restaurant and event space where patrons enjoy both food and drinks.
“Collinsville needs that,” she said. “Collinsville needs a place where you can have a special event, birthday parties, anniversary parties, civic group (gatherings).”
Her husband agreed. He hopes the business draws a crowd to the place they call home.
"It feels like the right time and the right place," Derik Reiser said. "We're in the heart of the metro-east. There's no craft brewing and distillery experience like this."