AND polished industrial brewhouse in the heart of town, River Bluff Brewing is doing its part to bring back the beer culture of the once “hopping” St. Joseph area.
Back in 1850, St. Joseph had about 17 breweries. Today, there are fewer than five.
“We wanted to revitalize St. Joseph and bring in tourism, ”said Chris Lanman, co-owner of River Bluff Brewing. Lanman shares ownership of the business with Edison Derr and Isaac Unruh.
The raw, industrial aesthetic and high ceilings give the brewery a contemporary feel in a historic building that was once a brewery in the mid-1800s.
The building was abandoned before Lanman and his partners decided to purchase and restore it. It became a push for him and his partners to save the building and introduce the first new brewery St. Joseph had seen in 20 years, he said.
In March, the business opened a second location in Kansas City’s River Market.
River Bluff Brewing is home to several craft beers, and brewing high quality beverages is a significant part of the mission and vision of the operation, Lanman said.
Often when new breweries appear, it may take time to build a lineup of popular, quality beers for customers. With help from Joel Cummings, a brewmaster from the Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City, River Bluff was able to hit the ground running.
The brewery has a few namesake beers available on tap, such as the Goldlion and the Speedliner. The Goldlion, a fan favorite according to Lanman, is a nitro golden stout.
“I like to compare it to a caramel macchiato beer,” he said.
The Speedliner is the signature IPA of the brewery. Its name comes from vintage Speedliner boats, which are classic mid-century fiberglass vessels made in St. Petersburg. Joseph.
The beer is made from mosaic, citra and ekuanot hops. One brew Lanman is particularly proud of the Sandy Dunes, a second-place winner at the Great American Beer Fest in 2019.
“Out of 9,000 beers, we were chosen among the 300 entries to receive medals,” Lanman said.
Both brewery locations have 12 taps, and many of the labels rotate through the seasons.
In St. Joseph, an L-shaped bar has neatly arranged glasses stacked near the taps, and a full menu is displayed with all of the draft beers and descriptions. The brews are available in 16-, 8- or 4-ounce for options.
A view of the large vats and pipes behind closed walkways gives customers a sense of insider privilege. Anyone who walks in can see exactly how the beer is made.
River Bluff also offers growlers that can be filled with the customer’s beer of choice, sealed for freshness and taken home. During the summer months and weekends, live music is sometimes scheduled in the evenings.
At the St. Joseph location, food is not available directly from the brewery, but customers can order from any local restaurant and bring the food inside.