While experimenting with homebrewing, Jonathan Williamson was inspired to open a brewery. After two years of planning with his brother Pippin, he combined their brewing know-how with business experience to take their operation to the next level. Sandhills Brewing debuted in Hutchinson, Kansas, in April with a focus on oak-fermented and specialty beers; the name refers to the windblown sand hills that form the nearby Hutchinson Dune Tract. Currently, Sandhills is only able to sell 16-ounce cans and growler fills to go, but the Williamson brothers are set to open a satellite location by the end of the year in downtown Mission, Kansas, which will include a taproom.
Why did you want to open a brewery in Hutchinson? We actually grew up near Hutchinson, and Pippin owned the building already for his business. We spent two years building it out and were finally able to open in April. We hope to have a Hutchinson taproom open by the end of the year. It should open right around the same time as the Mission location.
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What drew the two of you to Mission? Downtown Mission feels like an up-and-coming small town. The city itself is putting a ton of work into the area, and it feels very friendly and walkable. We like the sense of community in the area and think we can add to it.
Tell us about your beers. Our specialty is mixed-culture fermentation in oak barrels. It’s a slow, artisanal process that helps us create and develop new flavors in our beers. Initially, we showcase the character of the barrel in the beer, whether it’s whiskey, Port or something else; we use a variety of wine and spirit barrels. With each batch, the beer takes on less and less barrel flavor, and the barrels soon become a vehicle for the culture. This means each of our beers’ flavors develop over time, and each individual barrel can produce a dramatically different flavor experience.
What are your favorite Sandhills beers? Chickadee Berliner Weisse is a good choice. It’s light but full-flavored, tart and very complex. For a bit more approachable experience, Barred Owl Scottish Export. It’s our lightest, easy-to-drink beer. It looks a lot darker than it tastes. My go-to is our Junco New England IPA – soft and fruity [with] low bitterness. My favorite specialty beer is our Flanders Red, a barrel-aged sour red ale.
Any plans for distribution? Initially, we probably won’t have the production volume to regularly distribute, so you’ll need to come by one of our taprooms to get a taste of our beer. We’re looking forward to joining the Kansas City craft-brewing community, and we’re very excited to working with other breweries in the area to continue the growth of the Kansas City brewing culture.
Sandhills Brewing, 111 W. Second Ave., Ste. D., Hutchinson, Kansas, 620.200.2876, sandhillsbrewing.com