JUNCTION CITY (KSNT) – A new brewery is set to open next year in Junction City, bringing with it new flavors and life to the downtown area.
27 News spoke with members of Highwind Brewing Company to get an inside look at Junction City’s newest and, soon to be, only local brewery. Owner Matt Hoover said that he hopes the brewery will help to revitalize Junction City’s downtown area when it opens in the summer of 2023.
“It’s an important deal for us in Junction City,” Hoover said. “Being able to be a part of that revitalization. It certainly takes time, money and effort on the part of the citizens to implement changes like this.”
Hoover said that the building chosen to house Highwind at 726 N. Washington St. needs significant repairs to get everything ready to move the brewery equipment inside. The building, referred to by Hoover as the old Waters Hardware building, is found in Junction City’s historic district. Built in 1866, it needs substantial renovations before it’s ready to open up next year.
“It’ll take a couple million [dollars] to get this up and running,” Hoover said. “We were a grant award winner. It had a lot to do with it [the building] being a historical landmark.”
Hoover said that Highwind received $70,000 through the Kansas Heal grant to get things going. This grant focuses on helping with building improvement projects in the downtown areas of Kansas communities.
The vision of making Highwind a reality was the product of a small group of friends and families in the Junction City area who wanted to see craft brewing enter their community, according to Hoover.
“Junction City is in the beginning stages of revitalization,” Hoover said. “We wanted to see our downtown grow. We really have been wanting to get our downtown going, our food and beer concept will hopefully bring more people to that area.”
Head Brewer Shawn Howard said he is looking forward to the grand opening next year and the chance to start brewing some local beer. Howard has prior experience working at breweries in Manhattan and Topeka.
“It’ll be awesome just to have local beer that’s made there for the community,” Howard said. “The closest breweries are in Manhattan. It’ll be nice to have a brewery there on Main Street for everybody to go to.”
Light lagers, imperial stouts, seasonal rotators and more are planned for Highwind, according to Howard.
“I think just having some fun honestly, brewing is awesome,” Howard said. “It brings people together, I really enjoy that. It makes all the hours and long nights… the blood sweat and the tears so to speak, worth it. When you’ve struggled to make something of quality and people are drinking it that’s what makes it all worth it.”
Hoover said the layout for Highwind will be somewhat unique for Junction City. In addition to the brewery, there will be two chef-driven restaurants located inside Highwind. A pizza kitchen has already been chosen while the other spot remains open until Hoover can find another chef to fill it.
Once completed, Highwind will feature two kitchens, a dining area, bar and a brewhouse on the first floor. The second floor will feature an event space that can be used for weddings, corporate events and more for parties of around 100 people.
“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Hoover said. “Summer 2023 is what we’re shooting for. Construction is underway and we’re really just excited to bring this to the community.”
To learn more about Highwind and keep up with its progress leading into 2023, check out their Facebook here.