friendship brewing co. photo courtesy of friendship brewing co.

Friendship Brewing Co.’s new location in Flint Hill opens this weekend

Friendship Brewing Co.’s newest location, called Friendship Fli-Hi as an homage to surrounding neighborhood Flint Hill, is celebrating its soft opening today, Friday, June 2, with a grand opening party slated for mid-summer. The two-story, 10,000-square-foot facility at 400 Crossroads Business Park Court is just three miles away from the Friendship location in Wentzville, which opened seven years ago. Another Friendship location is opening in Hannibal this summer.

“At our original location, we ran out of brewing space within our first year,” said founder Brian Nolan, who owns the brewery with his business partner David Brewer. “We identified the new building three years ago as the place to get a much larger footprint in the marketplace. We’ve been brewing here several months and have quadrupled our brewing capacity.”

The bar has 40 taps, all with Friendship beers, plus a few draft cocktails that are in the works. “I won’t say we never do guest taps, but it’s pretty rare,” Nolan said.

With the new space, Friendship is also launching a distillery called Godspeed Distilling Co., helmed by Michael Snell. The team is waiting on federal licensing to begin distilling, but whiskey, bourbon, gin, vodka, rum and moonshine will be produced as soon as possible. 

The new space seats about 200 and is “pretty radically different” from the original location. “Wentzville is in a 110-year-old building, so it has a historic, vintage vibe whereas Flint Hill’s building is only 10 years old, so it’s more modern and industrial,” Nolan said. “We want to expand our reach but not be redundant. All the locations will have their own identity with some beers unique to only that property, as well as some unique events, but they will all have some tie-ins to the Friendship brand that I hope causes people to say, ‘Oh, this is the same Friendship family.” 

FliHi Kitchen, the restaurant inside the brewery, is the latest concept from Peter Venezia, who also owns Duke’s BBQ Shack and has had a hand in many popular local restaurants over the years.

Initially, Venezia and the Friendship team just knew each other as neighbors; both Duke’s BBQ Shack and Friendship operated nearby in Wentzville. Earlier this year, the two entered discussions about creating a beer for Duke’s BBQ Shack to be brewed by Friendship. Soon thereafter, Venezia was approached about heading operations for FliHi Kitchen, ultimately going from neighbors to partners.

“We started talking in January [and] February, just about canning a beer specifically for Duke’s BBQ,” Venezia said. “Then, they approached us about the kitchen in March. Within the month of April, we talked about the dynamics of collaboration. And now, we’re going into open mode.”

FliHi Kitchen’s menu will serve “simple, cool Americana” food. There will be a variety of shrimp options, such as local firecracker shrimp made with beer-battered tempura. Bigger dishes include the pub burger, beer-brined Buffalo fried chicken sandwich and Missouri smoked trout pancake. There will also be dishes made with Friendship’s drink selection, such as Friendship bourbon meatballs and FliHi beer cheese curds. Venezia said that all items will be made from scratch.

There will be an order window for customers to select their drinks and a window for pickup. 

“It’s very interactive,” Venezia said. “When guests come in, they’re going to be able to see everybody working in the brewery and distillery. It’s a very open concept [and] people can see everything that’s going on.”

Moreover, those sitting on the mezzanine can view the ground level’s bar, which will have a stage stationed atop the bar. Similar to how other Friendship Brewery Co. locations operate, the Flint Hill location will make use of the stage and regularly host bands and artists for live music.

The grand opening will take place July 29 and will provide an assortment of festivities, from live music to games, welcome for all to partake in. Until then, hours of operation for the soft launch will be noon to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, beginning Friday, June 2. 

“We created a menu, we think, that goes really well with the space and the beers offered,” Venezia said. “We’re totally transforming it for the kitchen [and] we’re super excited to do this different venue.”

Additionally, the Hannibal location of Friendship is just about a month away from opening. “We’re juggling a lot of chainsaws right now,” Nolan joked.