Belleville

Local craft brewer’s $3 million expansion project nears completion

Belleville brewery's new facility opening March 25

4204 Main Street Brewing Co., in Belleville, expects to start production in its new brewery and canning plant in mid-April and a grand opening will be March 25 for the bar and banquet room at 6435 W. Main Street in Belleville.
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4204 Main Street Brewing Co., in Belleville, expects to start production in its new brewery and canning plant in mid-April and a grand opening will be March 25 for the bar and banquet room at 6435 W. Main Street in Belleville.

Belleville’s pioneer craft brewer, 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., expects to start production in its new brewery and canning plant in mid-April and roll out the first beers in early May.

The brewery is under construction in the old Mad Pricer grocery store at 6435 W. Main St., about 20 blocks down from the current brewery and restaurant.

But to whet the appetite of their craft beer fans and to show how the abandoned store is being transformed in a $3 million renovation, co-owners Todd and Julia Kennedy will host a grand opening of the bar and banquet hall, now in the final stages of construction that began in the fall. The public is invited to the 5 p.m. March 25 grand opening when a new draft beer, a Vienna lager, will be unveiled.

“It’s a big endeavor,” Todd Kennedy said as construction workers buzzed around him Thursday while he talked about the project.

Kennedy said part of the craft brewing ethos calls for brewers to convert old or abandoned buildings like the Mad Pricer into breweries. Craft brewers in the St. Louis region and across the country have followed this model like he has.

It’s a big endeavor.

Todd Kennedy, co-owner of 4204 Main Street Brewing Co.

The brewery and restaurant at 4204 W. Main St. previously was a restaurant before Kennedy opened his business in 2014, and he later took over the adjacent building that once housed a fast-food restaurant.

“These big buildings just sit empty for so long. It’s only a few things they work for, but a brewery is one of them,” he said.

Kennedy said the original brew house will remain in operation, and brewers can try out new types of beer there.

“It’s kind of like the testing grounds,” Kennedy said. “If it moves well down there and people like it, then we’ll open it up to distribution. If it doesn’t, then we don’t.”

The new brewery will allow Kennedy to increase brewing capacity from the current level of 4,000 barrels of beer annually to 65,000 barrels.

The Kennedys have 16 investors supporting them at varying levels of commitment. Robert Graebe Jr., former CEO of The ROHO Group in Belleville, is the largest investor, and the banquet room will be named in his honor.

“I live on the west end,” Graebe said of one of the reasons he invested in the project. He also is bullish on craft beer sales and expects continued growth in business.

Indeed, you can now find 4204 Main Street beers in dozens of places in Illinois and Missouri. Kennedy said 12 types of beer are being distributed, and he recently hired a sales manager for the Kansas City market.

These big buildings just sit empty for so long. It’s only a few things they work for, but a brewery is one of them.

Todd Kennedy, co-owner of 4204 Main Street Brewing Co.

As he walked through the new brewery, Todd Kennedy pointed out some of his favorite features of the renovation.

Large windows between the bar and brew house and canning line will allow customers to see the brewing and canning operation.

Also, one of a large stainless steel tanks used in the brewing process has been cut in half. The tank, which costs $25,000, was prepared by a company in Florida and will be delivered to Belleville soon.

After the chopped-in-half tank is delivered, one side will be on display above the bar and the other side will be attached to a wall in the banquet room.

Kennedy said the idea for this display came to him “out of the blue,” and he doesn’t know of any other brewery doing this.

“That’s our focal point,” he said. “All of our taps will come out of it.”

The banquet room can hold up to 550 people, Kennedy said. Wedding receptions and other events are already being booked in the center.

One of the events will be the 5th Annual Belleville Ale Fest on April 22. Kennedy said the festival can be moved into the banquet room if the weather is bad that day.

A 2,000-square-foot kitchen will allow 4204 Main Street to prepare food on-site for all of the events.

“This is a chef’s dream here,” Kennedy said as he walked through the kitchen.

Rebecca Wuest, director of marketing for 4204 Main Street Brewing, said the bar’s menu will offer items such as paninis and tacos.

The Belleville City Council approved tax incentives for the project last year. Kennedy said he and his developers will not use all of the tax incentive for which they are eligible, but they will qualify for about $25,000 in state sales tax exemptions for construction material purchased in Illinois for the renovation.

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