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The Scoop: Square One brewmaster hopes to open Shaw Garden Brewery

January 3rd 03:01pm, 2013

Dr. John Witte, brewmaster at Square One Brewery and Distillery, is hoping to open a brewery of his own next year. If all goes according to plan, Shaw Garden Brewery will open doors in spring 2014 at 4066 Russell Blvd., in the Shaw neighborhood, as first reported by Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch.

But, as Witte noted in a conversation with The Scoop today, many factors have to fall in place before Shaw Garden Brewery becomes a reality. Witte is currently working on arranging financing to purchase the property, which is owned by the city of St. Louis. “I haven’t submitted the request for proposal because I am still working on the financing,” he said. “Once the proposal goes in, I go before the Shaw neighborhood. I’ve opened a lot of breweries, but I’ve never had to do this end of it,” explained Witte, who was the first brewmaster for Trailhead Brewing Co., when it opened in St. Charles in the mid-1990s. He has also consulted for breweries.

A post yesterday on the brewery’s Facebook page reiterated that Witte’s project was still in its infancy: “As of today we have the support of many of the people we’ll need to make this happen. We do not yet have the full proposal submitted, or approved. We have equipment estimates and a pretty good idea of rehab costs. All the financing is not complete and we must have that to complete the proposal for the city to be able to approve the project.”

Witte’s concept for Shaw Garden Brewery is a brewpub similar to his current place of employment. “We want to be for Shaw what Square One continues to be for Lafayette Square,” he explained. The 3,000-square-foot space would offer dining and bar seating for about 70 and “a really nice beer garden outside,” he added. Like brewing operations at Square One, Shaw Garden’s beers would be available only on tap, on-premise. John Stuhlman, former executive chef at Eclipse who has since spent a short stint in the kitchen at Sauce on the Side, is currently developing the “upscale pub food” menu and the kitchen layout, said Witte. “If there’s an opportunity for John to be part of that and the running of the operation, I would love that but I’d defer it to John. It would be his decision.”

Witte expects financing to take approximately six months, followed by another eight months for a build-out before Shaw Garden Brewery could open. “We’re talking March at the earliest,” he said.

By Ligaya Figueras

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