IMBĪB Custom Brews finds a home in Reno

IMBIB Custom Brews

A can of Modelo Especial lies on the floor of the gutted building Matt Johnson just leased for IMBĪB Custom Brews. He and Bart Blank stood outside the garage door homebrewing, waiting for Indiegogo contributors to stop by. Most of the roof support beams are exposed and the floors covered in concrete dust and some litter. The space is primed for a new brewery. Photo by Mike Higdon.

A much-anticipated brewery moves into Reno’s older neighborhoods on Second Street and Wells Avenue

IMBĪB Custom Brews found a home and signed the lease Labor Day morning. Now the hard work begins. For the next six months, the gutted building on Second Street will need extensive work to convert it into a new Reno brewery with a twist. Members will support this brewery.

“There’s so many empty spaces in this area that have been abandoned,” said IMBĪB Owner Matt Johnson. A small IMBĪB banner hangs from a side door, subtly revealing its future tenants to people lost in the parking lot.

Matt and partner Bart Blank set up their homebrewing equipment in the back of the large, bright yellow stucco building and invited Indiegogo contributors to stop by for swag and beer samples. Bart made fun of Matt for changing the style of the beer every time someone asked. When I first arrived it was a Belgian Blonde Ale and by the time I left, it turned into a Belgian Wit.

Matt said they experienced some difficulties finding a suitable site for their brewery. They originally wanted to open on Fourth Street but none of the landlords would rent to them. They looked at the old RESCO building on Fifth Street but that landlord asked them to bring in all the utilities, an expensive and time-consuming venture. Some buildings include basements, which works great for barrel aging but often means the main floor can’t support the weight of a brewhouse and fermenters.

The place is near Under the Rose Brewing Co. and Pigeon Head Brewery so Matt said they can easily collaborate on events. The building is perfect for a brewery with its concrete slab floors, rolling garage door, tall ceilings, built-in utilities and ample space, he said. The work of adding cold storage, trench drains and a tap room would come with any location, so at least this place already includes the basics needed to build these new pieces. The only downside is the yellow stucco, Matt prefers the exposed brick found inside.

“It looks like a dentist’s office from the outside,” he said.

Matt no longer thinks a homebrew store is in demand now that BrewChatter opened in Sparks and the Reno Homebrewer recently upped its game. Matt still wants to give people the opportunity to make their own beer using on-site ingredients and equipment, but he won’t sell homebrew supplies. And if people want custom-made beer, he’ll try to fit that in too, but it’s less of a main pillar of the business for now.

Instead, he’ll focus on a membership model, Community Supported Ale, as a big part of the brewery. Matt hopes the CSA will help fund the startup as business grows into a full-scale brewery. At IMBĪB, CSA members will take part in creating exclusive beers. Members will vote on a monthly recipe and automatically receive a pre-determined portion of each brew. At first IMBĪB might consider contract brewing to build reputation, buzz and membership. Then when all the funds come together, they’ll start the process of buying their own brewery equipment and opening the tasting room.

“If all goes well, we’ll probably open between January and February and start brewing for a summer release,” Matt said.

IMBĪB Custom Brews

Online: Facebook, website
Address: 785 E Second Street

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Mike Higdon

Editor & Publisher at Drinkable Reno
Mike Higdon is a journalist passionate about beer and cocktails. He started the site because no one else covered Reno's growing craft scene at the level of detail required to stay in the know about all things drinkable in Reno.

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