HANNIBAL, Mo. — A new chapter officially starts Monday when Friendship Brewing Co. takes over the Mark Twain Brewing Co. building.
Friendship Brewing founder Brian Noland and his business partner, and his business partner, David Brewer, first learned Mark Twain Brewing Company was seeking a buyer for its Hannibal location on March 30.
Around 7 p.m. that evening, a friend of Noland’s from Hannibal sent him a text message asking if he was following the online auction of the building, 422 N. Main.
Noland was unaware of the auction before viewing the details through an online link. By 7 a.m. the next day, he and Brewer drove to Hannibal to spend several hours examining the property.
They discovered a great deal about the business and the historic building. Noland was seated in a diner in Wentzville by noon and submitted the winning bid to purchase the property from his cellphone.
“That’s a whole lot different than buying something on eBay, to buy an entire property of that magnitude,” he said with a laugh.
Noland explained he and Brewer agreed the risks were worthwhile. There was a bit of anxiety involved initially, but they are “very, very pleased with the outcome.”
“We liked the property a lot. We liked the community a lot. It fits our vision of what our brand fits into,” he said.
Mark Twain Brewing’s Hannibal location will close when the building changes hands, but a company representative explained beers would continue to be available at County Market and Huck’s Convenience store, as well as on tap at Rumor Has It Bar and Grill.
An expansive sale on beers is underway at Mark Twain Brewing, and merchandise will still be available through their website, marktwainbrewingcompany.com. People can also discover updates about Mark Twain Brewing and future plans to return to Missouri through the company’s Facebook page.
The representative said Mark Twain Brewing Company staff have made a great deal of memories since 2014.
“We’ve enjoyed Hannibal. We’ve enjoyed the community. We made a lot of friends — Mark Twain Brewing family,” he said.
Monday will be the first day of a “new chapter” for Friendship Brewing Company, Noland explained. The original location is in a historic site in Wentzville. Crews are concluding a one-and-a-half-year restoration of a large industrial building in Flint Hill.
Noland said the Flint Hill location will quadruple brewing capacity, and add a distillery for creation of bourbon whiskey, rum, gin, vodka and moonshine. The distilled spirits will join a lineup of beers at Friendship Brewing’s Hannibal location when it opens.
Historic buildings are a perfect fit for Noland. He studied architecture in college and worked for most of his career as a commercial developer.
Noland gained personal and professional experience in working with historical properties. Architectural firms are preparing blueprints and plans so proposals and construction can begin in earnest after the ownership change is official.
Noland described “major enhancements” in store for the location.
One of the first projects will entail reopening the door on the Main Street side. revising the flow and layout of the first floor. Additional outdoor seating will be set up for a beer garden-like atmosphere.
Additional outdoor seating is in the works on the second level to afford more views of the Mississippi River. Maintenance and repair efforts will also begin as soon as possible.
Architectural firms are working on blueprints and plans to submit to the city for approval. Contractors will be sought for the work next.
Noland expressed his excitement for the planned improvements, stressing it was not a negative reflection in Mark Twain Brewing in any way. Noland said he was using lessons learned at his company’s other locations in how to make the spot even more welcoming.
“We have a lot of work to do, and the process is going to take time,” Noland said, noting he felt it was important to move forward with an entirely new experience.
“We’re glad to have it, we know we’re going to miss some tourist season, but we feel like we need to make a clean break with what has transpired on the property in the past,” he said. “We feel like it’s in our best interest as a new brewery to make all the improvements that we feel like we need to do, including both visual and functional.”
Noland said though the lights will go out momentarily, he felt it was in the best interest for Friendship Brewing and for Hannibal.
“So, that when we do open, it truly is a new chapter — it’s not just a new iteration of what was already there,” he said. “It’s our intention that it’s a very new experience from top to bottom.”
More information about Friendship Brewing is available through the company’s social media outlets. Noland said there also plans to set up signage right away, including a QR code and link to online updates. The website is friendshipbrewco.com.
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