Since 1998, a plate-glass window on the southwest corner of the Fayetteville square has read “Coming Soon: West Mountain Brewing Company.”
Almost 13 years later, Tim’s Pizza owner John Schmuecker hopes to finally scrape off the “coming soon” for good, and actually begin brewing beer at the location.
Photos by Dustin Bartholomew
Schmuecker’s quest to brew beer in Fayetteville began in the late 1990s with the purchase of a brewing system. The shipment he received, however, was incomplete, and the Canadian company that he purchased it from was bankrupt.
“They shorted me about $20,000 worth of equipment,” he said. “They were also supposed to show me how to set it up, but instead, what I ended up getting was a disposable camera full of pictures of them taking it apart, and a ‘good luck.'”
The whole experience left a bad taste in Schmuecker’s mouth, and the incomplete brewing system has since sat in the window of the restaurant, mostly untouched.
“It’s become a running joke,” he said. “It’s been coming soon for over 10 years now.”
That all changed recently, thanks to an unexpected turn of events.
Brewmaster Andy Coates, who worked with craft breweries The Great Divide in Denver and Goose Island in Chicago, moved to Fayetteville with his wife recently after taking a year off from brewing to travel abroad.
Once Schmuecker met Coates and checked his references, his dream of brewing beer on the Fayetteville square was almost instantly revived.
“I’d already decided I was fooling myself thinking I could do this on my own,” Schmuecker said. “Then, Andy walked in the door.”
Schmuecker hired Coates as brewmaster for West Mountain Brewing Company, and has already filed the necessary paperwork with the federal government to begin brewing.
“It’s supposed to take about three months to get the permit, and they’ve had mine for about a month and a half,” Schmuecker said. “They’ve already cashed my check, so that’s a good sign.”
Two large fermenting tanks arrived this week, and the last piece of necessary equipment, a mash, is on order.
If all goes according to plan, West Mountain Brewing Company should have its first batch of beer ready to taste by the end of the summer.
“I’ve been waiting 10 years for this, so it’s kind of anti-climactic for me at this point,” Schmuecker said. “Andy says that it should take about a week or so to brew our first batch once we get everything up and running. I don’t want to say when, but it should be while it’s still warm out.”
Schmueker and Coates both mentioned a pale ale or an India Pale Ale as a likely candidate for the first batch, but the two have plans to brew a wide range or craft beers at West Mountain.
“I’ve got 14 handles here to fill up, and we want to do a little bit of everything—porters, stouts, pale ales, IPAs,” Schmuecker said. “We’ve definitely seen a demand for better beers here over the past five years, so that’s what we’re going to do.”