Just in the last decade, downtown Springfield's brewery district has flourished, creating craft beers, as well as signature events, to go along with them. Local distilleries and wineries have also appeared on the scene, making Springfield the go-to destination in the Ozarks for breweries, wineries and distilleries.
When Springfield Brewing Company (SBC) opened its doors in downtown Springfield in 1997, it was the talk of the town. Missouri’s third largest city finally had a brewpub. The craft brewery and restaurant quickly became the go-to venue in the Queen City where visitors could grab a cold one in the tradition of English, German and American style ales and lagers.
“When SBC opened, it was the first revitalization project in downtown and it’s continued to be very popular ever since,” says Bryan Bevel, director of operations.
Since purchasing SBC from Paul Mueller Co. in 2010, Bevel and his business partners have focused on expanding the brewery to sell craft beer in market as well as the brewpub.
“This $1 million expansion will take us from brewing around 2,000 barrels of beer per year to somewhere north of 6,500 barrels per year,” adds Bevel. “We’re also adding 7,000 square feet of fermentation cellars to our production site.”
Along with the expansion, SBC is also home to Springfield’s new Trolley Bike. Riders can grab a growler of their favorite lager at SBC then take a guided tour through downtown.
Bevel also says the addition of new breweries such as Mother’s Brewing Company and White River Brewing Company in Springfield is good for business overall.
“It’s a community,” he says. “We’re all in this together to promote good beer.”
Just a few blocks away from SBC at Mother’s Brewing Company, a canoe filled with cans of Cucumber Saison beer greets guests at the release party for the brewery’s Backyard Beers series.
Kyle Jeffries, tasting room manager at Mother’s, shuffles back and forth between the beer tent in the yard and the inside tasting room where beer lovers are sampling a number of brews.
“We’re taking our love of craft beer and Springfield and representing that to the region,” he says. “Since we started brewing in 2011, we’ve produced a number of smaller batch beers that have only been served in our tasting rooms. Now, we’re moving some of these beers to market.”
Mother’s is a production brewery, focusing on packaging and distribution of their heady brews across a large territory. But, they’ve also become well-known for their backyard events where hundreds will gather to celebrate all that is beer.
“We have this beautiful backyard and it really is a community space,” says Jeffries. “People can bring their family and enjoy our beer and have a really good time. It’s a special place in downtown Springfield.”
Mother’s big event of the year is coming up — the 6th Ever Mother’s Day Festival on May 14 —where this year they will celebrate their five-year anniversary.
“It’s an exciting time for us and for the craft beverage industry in Springfield,” adds Jeffries. “We have three breweries in this town and we’re all making our own individual take on craft beer. Any beer lover would have no trouble spending a weekend in Springfield discovering everything on the craft beer scene. Then you add the wineries and distilleries on top of that...anyone who is into craft production, either brewing or distilling or winemaking, is going to find a wealth of opportunity to explore right here in the Springfield area.”
Perched on the west end of Springfield’s historic Commercial Street (C-Street) in a building that used to be home to a gas station, White River Brewing Company has quickly become a go-to destination for any beer lover.
Owner John “Buz” Hosfield began test brewing on the site in 2012 and tapped his first keg of beer on Feb. 1, 2013. “At the time, there was really only one production brewery in Springfield so it was the perfect time for us,” says Hosfield.
Word of mouth began to spread as more and more people visited the tasting room to sample the delicious lagers from the tap.
“After two years, we decided we needed to do something more and completely remodeled the tasting room,” says Hosfield. “We had the bar built, added a new patio building and finished the inside to get to where we are today.”
Above the bar in the new tasting room, a teaser for an upcoming brew promises a cilantro lime lager in the near future. “We’re always trying new things,” adds Hosfield. “It keeps it exciting.”
Hosfield says more and more people are discovering this gem of a spot on C-Street through word of mouth and with the help of friends.
“People will visit Mother’s Brewing Company and they’ll send them here and we do the same thing. We support each other.”
OOVVDA Winery boasts that it’s Springfield’s premier winery, and rightly so, as it’s currently the only winery in Springfield city limits.
Brian and Fran Overboe, owners of OOVVDA, began selling their wine in 2005 and started tasting at the winery in 2007. On this most recent “Twilight Delight” tasting event, Fran stands behind the bar of the tasting room, explaining the varieties as she pours samples for patrons.
“You should taste the drier varieties before the sweeter ones,” she tells one customer, who requested their very sweet Happy Birthday flavor first. The tasting room fills with people awaiting their turn to taste everything from a semi-dry Blueberry to their famous dry Tornado Tomato.
Outside on the grounds of the winery, more than 200 people have gathered, spread out in lawn chairs enjoying copious amounts of cheese and crackers and OOVVDA wine.
“We’re working at making Springfield a go-to wine destination,” says Brian. “The wineries in the area cooperate with each other to promote each other by word of mouth. It makes good business for all of us.”
On the last Saturday of every month (March through October) OOVVDA Winery comes alive with their “Twilight Delight” event that features live music, food and a great selection of wine.
Just a short drive from Springfield in Walnut Grove, is another hometown winery that’s well-known for its wines and meads (wines made from honey). On a sunny Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people have gathered at 7C’s for their annual Sippin’ n Sawin' event billed as Missouri’s only chainsaw carving festival.
From a college fraternity who brought their moms to the festival to local officials and busloads of tourists, the property is bursting at its seams with wine lovers.
Guests are getting a taste of 7C’s new, and interesting meads for the year including: Wildflower, Clover, Afterburn (jalapeno), Hades Ambrosia (habanero), Afterlife (ghost pepper) along with its regular selection of meads.
“The wine industry is growing in southwest Missouri,” says Dwight Crevelt, owner of 7C’s, along with his wife Jean Anne. “There are several wineries in the area who are producing better and better wines every year. We like to have festivals to get people out of the rat race and enjoy themselves. And at the same time, events like this helps build our notoriety and demand for our products in stores.”
Just off of Interstate 65 between Springfield and Branson in Walnut Shade, Bear Creek Wine Company sits back in the woods in a setting that exemplifies the Ozarks. Also home to a bed and breakfast, Bear Creek is the perfect place for a pit stop that can include a good wine and a picnic.
Mandy Bonzer helps manage the 15-year-old family business. Standing in the tasting room, she pops open a bottle of a dark red wine and pours a sample. “We started producing our private label wines four years ago,” she says. “Then this past fall, we started producing our blackberry wine on site and it has been a huge hit with visitors.”
The blackberry wine, officially called Cobbler, is a sweet and tart wine. Bonzer says they are currently working on an elderberry wine as well. Guests at Bear Creek can purchase Askinosie Chocolates, cheeses, meats, crackers and even pizza to enjoy anywhere on the property.
“I really think we are different than any other tasting rooms in town,” says Bonzer. “We wanted to have something for people who came out to taste our wine that represents Ozarks culture and history and I think we've done that. We’re from here and in fact, both of my grandfathers went to prison for a bit for making moonshine, so here’s to family traditions.”
Speaking of moonshine, just down the road from Bear Creek, Copper Run Distillery & Tasting Room has plenty of it — and much more.
Walking into the distillery, the smell of whiskey is unmistakable. It’s almost as if you can taste it before even making it to the bar. Katherine Smith, marketing representative for Copper Run, greets guests and offers up her extensive knowledge of the spirits produced here.
“Here in the Ozarks, people tend to like bourbon best, so naturally, whiskey is our most popular spirit,” she says. “And everything here is all natural and handcrafted from grain to bottle.”
Copper Run, in operation since 2009, is the first legal distillery in the Ozarks. White Oak trees on the property are used to make the whiskey barrels and they use fresh well water, rich with limestone, that acts as a natural filtration.
Along with the whiskey and moonshine, Copper Run also distills both a white and dark rum. All the spirits are available for tasting where you can also purchase one of their popular infused cocktails, a famous Bloody Mary or simply a whiskey neat.
“Some people say we serve the best Bloody Mary they've ever had,” says Smith. “And our most popular fusion is Apple Pie Moonshine.”
Cooper Run partners with Bear Creek Wine Company to encourage visitors to visit both attractions and, in fact, a visit to both makes a perfect afternoon or evening. Copper Run also works in tandem with Springfield’s breweries and recently distilled a whiskey using hops from Mother’s Brewing Company.
“We get a lot of our praise from customers because we've kept it local by working with local wineries and breweries,” adds Smith. “Keeping it local to feed the community is important to us.”
Scott Shotts found his love for distilling spirits working at Copper Run and opened Missouri Spirits in Springfield in 2011 on the city’s south side before moving the spirit house downtown in 2014.
“We wanted to bring fresh, handcrafted spirits to Springfield,” says Shotts. “Springfield has had great beer for years and now we have great spirits as well.”
Located in a former body shop next to SBC, Missouri Spirits acts as a tasting room, bar, restaurant and event center all in one.
“Our spirits are as fresh as they can be,” says Shotts. “Our motto is eat and drink local and we pride ourselves in being a place where you can eat or drink something you can’t order anywhere else.”
As with Copper Run, bourbon is the most popular spirit at Missouri Spirits. They produce vodka, corn whiskey and bourbon all under the label and are working on rum and gin.
Shotts says Bill’s Bullet, bourbon infused with red apple and tobacco shrub, lemon juice and smoked ice, is their most popular cocktail. A close second is the Missouri Mule, a local take on the famous Moscow version. The pork sliders with housemade barbecue sauce are also a favorite.
“There’s a lot more you can do with bourbon than just drink it straight,” says Shotts.
Now that you're more familiar with what the Springfield area has to offer in craft beverages, it's time to plan your tour of these most unique places in southwest Missouri.
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