Logboat Brewing Company prepares to reopen its renovated taproom.
Logboat Brewing Company’s nine-year adventure of creating unique beers and providing a memorable gathering place for families and friends has led to a 12,000-square-foot expansion and renovation that will be “an entirely new experience” for visitors, the brewery’s ownership group says.
The brewery’s taproom recently had a limited opening to preview the renovations and to respond to Logboat fans who have yearned via social media for the brewery to reopen.
“It felt good to be open again” even on a limited basis, said Tyson Hunt, one of the brewery’s three co-founders. “I think by the middle of June we’ll be in a real good spot” to be fully open.
Brewing up patience.
The brewery shut down its taproom on Jan. 1, anticipating a temporary closure to accommodate construction to expand the production area, while also renovating the retail space. Hunt and his partners, Judson Ball and Andrew Sharp, also keyed in on customer requests and made sure to provide more seating as well as improvements to the outdoor park area that has helped set Logboat apart from other local breweries.
“We definitely knew at some point we’d have to shut down the tasting room just because of the renovations we’re doing,” Tyson added. “We’re a little behind schedule” as the result of supply chain issues and weather delays. “All in all, I think we’re maybe a month behind. But considering how crazy things have been the past few years, we’re pretty happy with that.”
Comments on Logboat’s Facebook page indicate that the public is just as eager as the brewery partners for the business to be fully open again.
A sampling of those comments includes: “Hurry up, already.” “We can’t wait.” “This town is a snore without Logboat in my life.” And an especially emphatic alert: “I’M THIRSTY.”
Tyson said the wait is almost over.
“The next couple of months we’ll still be an active construction site,” he said. “We ask for a little bit of grace and patience as we work through the next phases” of the taproom update. Logboat patrons can keep watch on social media and the brewery’s website for updates.
It’s what customers asked for …
“Piece by piece, we’ve enhanced the overall retail experience for folks,” Tyson said. The project added more parking with security cameras, sidewalks and crosswalks, and landscaping. Tyson reiterated that the additions were among amenities customers have asked for.
“It’s been a lot of good feedback from folks,” he says. “Hopefully they enjoy what we’ve done.”
Logboat opened in May 2014 and almost immediately realized the need for a larger space.
“We thought we’d have a ton of room to expand and make more beer,” Tyson added. “Then sales were booming, and we were chock full of tanks and out of room to add any more capacity.” Growing the brewery’s footprint in Missouri also became a challenge because of capacity issues.
The team bought some additional property and then navigated zoning requirements to come up with an expansion plan.
“We’re thrilled to be able to grow right where it all started and be a downtown brewery for Columbia,” he said. “We just keep trying to push the envelope and make better and better beverages. It’s been a wild nine years.”
Come inside or get comfy outside.
During that time, the business partners learned more about their industry and listened to customer feedback. As a result, the open air but unshaded grass park area adjacent to the brewery has been transformed into a covered outdoor area and the renovations added outdoor bathrooms. A shipping container was converted into a bar, making it possible to visit Logboat and get a beer without going inside. Infrared heaters for the outdoor space will make that amenity more comfortable in the cooler months.
The upstairs area in the brewery was previously open but has been infilled to create a space with more seating and that’s suitable for private events — which was another longstanding customer request. The brewery added an elevator to provide better accessibility.
Logboat’s website had already set the bar high for the establishment by saying that “beer is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family in a social setting,” adding, “we brew the beers we like to drink. We constantly try to innovate and push ourselves to brew new, unique, and interesting beers to keep things fresh and exciting.”
Logboat has stayed in the public eye by hosting pop a shot pop up events at Waves Cider Company, the business group’s cidery at 604 Nebraska Avenue.
“Things have been cruising along there, so we’ve been busy,” Tyson said.
Logboat Brewing Company won the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award in 2016 and has collaborated with a number of charities through the years, including Missouri River Relief and the Alzheimer’s Association. In an interview with Vox magazine, Tyson offered nuggets of wisdom for would-be entrepreneurs, suggesting, “Just do it.”
“At some point, you can only read so many books, talk to so many people, and gather so much information,” he said. “Just go for it.”
‘We’re still learning …’
Tyson echoed some of those sentiments to COMO Business Times, noting that Columbia’s business ecosystem, especially for entrepreneurs, is full of opportunities. The Logboat team is willing to share tips for success, but he added, “We’re still learning every day as well.”
Logboat also continues to experiment and has come up with a new pilot system for making “smaller batches of fun projects” for retail partners and customers. The team also plans to grow Logboat’s barrel-age series and sour beer production.
“Hopefully we can return to focus on some of these other projects that we’ve put on hold for a minute,” Tyson said.
Logboat beverages are currently distributed through about 66 of Missouri’s 114 counties.
“We’re going to survey the market down around Springfield and Branson … and kind of fill in the rest of the counties with more distribution,” he said. “This expansion certainly gives us that opportunity.”
Andrew also points out that there’s still a lot of opportunity to grow within Logboat’s current footprint.
“There’s still a ton of opportunity where we are in St. Louis and Kansas City,” he added. “We have great, great partners, and I think our goals are aligned to be able to grow significantly in the next few years.”
For regular taproom customers, the retail space enhancements will be what the public experiences “first and foremost,” Tyson said. And that experience will resume soon.
“The next few months are kind of that mad dash to the finish,” he added. “It’s a fun process to watch it unfold every day. We’re just excited to showcase it. It’s been an incredible nine-year journey.”