Three years after opening, Sherman's microbrewery, 903 Brewers, is ready to expand in a big way -- like $2.5 million big.
Husband and wife Jeremy and Natalie Roberts, who own the facility, announced this week they bought a vacant school building near downtown where they will build a new 903 brewpub, complete with two restaurants, a private events space and massive beer garden with a stage for live music. The couple looked for about a year before settling on the space.
"We're both from here and we've been looking for a place where we could be a benefit to our city and be an added value to our downtown," says Jeremy.
Not only does the new spot afford the Roberts 2.5 acres and 25,000 square feet of real estate to develop into what Jeremy calls the 903 legacy, but it also holds intrinsic value. Jeremy's great-grandparents lived one block away from the school, which both his parents attended. That's why the Roberts will restore the building rather than demolish it (hence the pricey $2.5 million they are planning to spend).
"I hate seeing all these old building being torn down," Jeremy says. "We thought, 'Let's take a piece of our city and bring it back to life.'"
When it's finished, the new facility will house offices and a 15-barrel brew house plus fermentation tanks and a canning line on the bottom floor; a fine dining restaurant on the second floor; and a ballroom for private events, complete with a 360-degree view of Sherman, on the third floor. Outside will be a massive beer garden and another restaurant Jeremy describes as a backyard grill, with more casual and affordable options. There will also be a stage for live music.
If that sounds like a lot of work, that's because it is. The Roberts don't expect to complete to project until 2019, but they have plenty to keep them busy in the meantime.
Recently, the couple leased a 19,000-square-foot space adjacent to 903 Brewers, which they plan to outfit as the primary production facility. Construction to convert the space is currently underway and new brewing equipment is expected to arrive in November. Once that project is complete, Jeremy plans to use the original brewery to develop a sour beer program. And then, once that's squared away, he'll begin working on "all the fun stuff" -- rezoning, permitting, etc. -- for the brewpub downtown, he says.
Opened in 2013, 903 Brewers' mission was to push the envelope with its beer styles. In its first year, the brewery produced 300 barrels of beer, according to Brewers Association data. It has since grown to 1,500 barrels in 2015. It's core recipes, available on draft and in cans, include the Chosen One coconut cream ale, 903 Blonde, Land of Milk and Honey golden stout, and Sasquatch imperial milk stout, which won a silver medal at Great American Beer Festival last year.
While the brewery has hit several milestones over the years, the downtown brewpub will likely be the greatest.
"The old school is our legacy," says Jeremy. "This is what we're going to leave and say, 'This what we did in our lifetime.'"