When a bearded brewer from the Sooner State christens a public pint of Cowboys in Kilts, he will help pour new life into a renovated historic building that houses Sheridan’s newest craft brewery. On Friday, Smith Alley Brewing Company and Public House will host its grand opening, making its next door namesake alley a destination address for the city’s first family-friendly gastro pub.
What once housed Austin Dry Goods now houses a brewery that marries modern form and function into a historic renovation honoring the city’s brewing history and nods to the city’s two other craft breweries.
“We want Sheridanites to love this place as much as we do and brag about our brewery when they go out of town,” said Jayce Hancock, 24, Smith Alley brewer and member of a sixth generation Oklahoma ranching family.
“We are not just making beer for ourselves but beer to be loved by the community,” Hancock said.
As one of the young generation of brewers, he learned his craft for more than four years, working from the bottom up at Iron Monk Brewing Company in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is now charged with helping craft Smith Alley’s brewing identity, presence and beers.
For more than a year, brewery owners, crew and contractors have faced the challenges that span from overall project design, renovation and implementation to such particulars as branding of the brewery name or beer.
“Naming a beer is a lot harder thank you think,” said Hancock, crediting Megan Koltiska, brewery general manager, for brainstorming the name Cowboys in Kilts. “She hit it out of the park, when she named it.”
Smith Alley joins two other downtown breweries — Black Tooth Brewing Company and Luminous Brewhouse — whose brewers are all working to enrich Sheridan as a viable, relevant and historic city that can grow yet retain its historical character, according to Smith Alley management.
“The goal is to keep Sheridan relevant as well as keep it authentic and true to its own self as it grows,” Koltiska said. “We are very respectful of all the other breweries. We don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. The more breweries we bring in, the more it helps everyone. A rising tide lifts all ships.”
The grand opening will feature four signature beers, food and music in a family friendly atmosphere. Besides Cowboys in Kilts,” a wheat beer, IPA and milk stout will be also be featured as patrons can experience the nearly 13,000-square-foot facility with two levels along with the basement brewery housing 12 cellar tanks and a 10-barrel brewing system. Also, there are 22 taps available to pour in-house brews with a 30-foot copper bar that will patina over time from spilled beer, water or cleaner. Having leased part of the Smith Street alley from the city, brewery officials are planning alfresco events and seating along with indoor/outdoor pourings through large roll up doors that open into the alley.
Project Architect Scott Freimuth, said he used a “clean modern aesthetic…not too showy” to incorporate the brewery’s forms and functions into the building’s historic elements such original brick walls and maple floors.
“We wanted to pay homage to the original building, incorporating along with it modern standards and contemporary elements,” said Freimuth, from Intrinsik Architecture in Bozeman.
Besides the Austin Dry Goods store, other occupants of the building have included Dutch Lunch, Kibben Hardware, United Store Co., Hospital Pharmacy, Corral West and Boot Barn.
Further, Smith Alley and the rest of Sheridan’s brewers are paying homage to historic Sheridan Brewing Company, reportedly the largest industry in the city at one time.
Through their efforts, they are resurrecting craft brewing in historic downtown, brewing new life in forgotten spaces.
“The brewers themselves are a way of bringing back the original spirit of the Sheridan brewing history,” Freimuth said. “They help to keep alive the spirit of that history.”
By Jana Mackin