Up until just a few days ago Beatrice was the largest city in Nebraska without a brewery.
That all changed this past weekend as Stone Hollow Brewing Company opened its doors for the first time to host a fundraiser event for Gage County United Way.
The building at 301 Court St. was built in the 1880s and was originally a saloon.
“Somewhere around 1917 the grocery story used the street level floor of the building,” said brewmaster Bryon Belding during a tour on Saturday. “We found all kinds of interesting things including the attorney’s sign that hangs in the hallway, during renovation. It dates back about a 100 years.”
Belding described the sometimes lengthy process of making beer as he showed tour groups the giant tubs in the basement of the building.
“We’re using the old coolers from the grocery story as storage for the beer which has tubes running to the bar upstairs,” Belding said.
Belding was born and raised in Beatrice. He lived in Lincoln when he was contacted about Stone Hollow. Belding was a home brewer and National Beer Judge in his spare time and accepted an offer to become a full-time brewmaster.
“When United Way approached us about this fundraiser I thought it would be great for both of us, but really had hoped for an opening event for about 30, not 200. But it’s going great,” Belding said.
The Mercantile Building, owned and renovated by Todd and Soni Hydo, hosts a cigar shop and a boutique with hopes of opening other businesses in the future.
“We partner with 15 non-profits in Gage County to provide support in our community. We also do special applications for projects.” said Amanda Kuhlman, chairman of the Gage County United Way Board of Directors. “It is our job to be good stewards of the money raised and this fundraiser is another opportunity to give back."
Stone Hollow Brewery opens to the public on Thursday, March 14.