‘Start small and grow’- Ironton couple start the process to establish a microbrewery

Colin and Debra Hendron of Ironton now own the buildings comprising the former Baldwin Brother Store and have some tentative plans to turn it into a microbrewery.

When Debra and Colin Hendron bought the old Commercial Hotel on Ironton’s Main Street back in 2012, they moved to the Valley thinking life here would be simpler and enjoyable.

“We love old buildings,” Debra explained. “You can see the potential and the building will tell you what to do.”

What they wanted with the hotel was a space for Debra’s craft-soap business and the upstairs to be their living space. After living in it for awhile, they decided it would be a shame to make it anything else but a hotel.

“We had to do tuckpointing on a wall in order to save it,” Colin said, noting that a number of other things need to be done to get it usable as a hotel.  Certainly it was not going to work out for Debra’s craft-soap business.  

The Arcadia Soap Company, while still largely an internet company (since 2001), has its storefront customers, too.  It had become a full-time job.

So, in August 2013, they bought the former Buck Realty building across the street and moved the soap business there.

Work continues on the hotel, but last year they were successful in purchasing the former Baldwin Brothers Store buildings.

“We are getting in our own way at the hotel,” Colin explained. “We need to tear the floors up and that is hard to do while you are living in that space.

So the plan, for right now anyway, is to make the upstairs area of the Baldwin 

Brothers buildings a living area, use part of it as a garage/storage area, expand the Arcadia Soap Company, maybe add an antique store, and a microbrewery.

It could be a brewery, they said. Start small and grow.

“We thought of so many things that could go in here,” Colin said. “And when we thought of the microbrewery idea, it just seemed to be a wonderful fit.”

Just don’t expect to tip a frostly mug in their establishment anytime soon. 

“The latest I would like to open is 2019,” Debra said. 

However, to apply for a federal brewer’s license (that takes 4 to 6 months), you must have the building completed and an invoice for the brewery equipment that will cost at least $100,000. Then there is applying for a Missouri license.

They have begun the process for a rezoning and a license from the City of Ironton already, but there is still much to consider.  For one thing, they want the building both to retain its historical air and for it to be as green as possible and they will probably apply for that kind of assistance through a number of programs.

They want to buy local as much as possible so they have been talking to Belleview farmer Josh Campbell about growing hops - a three-year process.

There is also the question of the ongoing work on the buildings.  A process made slower by the fact that Colin works full-time as a plumbing engineer with a company in Webster Groves.

“To start with, we can’t get water to the building until the spring or summer,” Debra explained. “The water meter is in the basement and needs to be moved out to Main Street.  It is only a 3/4 inch line, so we need bigger service lines to have bathrooms and the brewery.  The electrical service needs to be updated.”

Ideally, she added, some of that would be solar.

The brewery, they said, would be the type of business that would have the most impact on the local economy.  

“Soap is only going to bring so much (tax revenue into the city/county), an antique store is only going to bring so much, and the area needs a lot more than that,” she said. “People in the Valley do want to shop local; they do want to support Main Street.”

“It is just that stuff takes time,” Colin said.