A pair of homebrewing Ankeny residents are in the early stages of opening a brewpub on Huxley’s Main Avenue sometime in 2019.
Fenceline Beer Lab, located at 107 S. Main Ave., will occupy the space formerly filled by Blumster’s, a combination florist, cafe and furniture store in the city’s downtown. Co-owner Susan Frantz said she expects to keep elements of the brick walls inside the building, left over from the original structure.
The building itself was built in 1913, and underwent several additions, according to local property records.
The interior is being revamped to have new waiting spaces, a game room, space for 50-seat dining areas and a 10-seat bar, along with a standing bar in the lobby,
True to its name, Frantz said the beer will have experimental twists on popular craft beer formulas using different ingredients and techniques, including using various locally sourced vegetables in the brew process.
The food will be an “elevated” version of traditional pub food, like soups and sandwiches in a small-plate form, Frantz said. She also expects to have a large slate of vegetarian options on the menu as well.
Frantz said she’ll be the head brewer for the pub. She said it’s not clear exactly how many employees the business is expected to hire.
The beer will be brewed in a side room in a three-and-a-half brewing system, which Frantz said should be enough to sustain Fenceline as a nanobrewery. She doesn’t know yet exactly how much output she and her husband plan to produce.
Frantz said she and her husband have been homebrewing in their house for several years and always had a goal of running a brewpub, but their jobs kept them too busy to devote a large amount of time to the project. Last year, they decided to start the pub in between their day jobs.
“If you’re on a job interview, they’ll ask you what’s your five-year plan, where you see yourself in 10 years, and that answer in my mind was in a brewpub,” she said. “But we never actually started that clock, so we kind of just said we need to start the clock before we get any older.”
Fenceline plans to keep its beer for sale only in Huxley at first, with a slight possibility of distributing to Des Moines taphouses in the future. For the moment, Frantz hopes to establish the brewpub as a destination place for Iowa beer fanatics to visit.
Frantz said they chose Huxley over Ankeny partially because Ankeny already has three craft breweries operating there.
However, she said all small cities like Huxley should have a brewpub that can anchor the city’s social scene, particularly in its downtown. She hopes Fenceline, along with the fairly close starting point of the Heart of Iowa trail and the recently dedicated town amphitheater, will renew interest in Huxley’s downtown.
“It’s a place to be,” she said. “It’s a place for the community to get together. The beer culture these days, especially in Iowa, is just fantastic, and people get together over a beer. It builds relationships.”
Fenceline Beer Lab’s expected opening date, as of publication, is to be somewhere between May and November of 2019, depending on when they are approved for a federal alcohol production license.