Out of This World
Planetary Brewing lands in Old Town Greenwood
Writer / Matt Roberts
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
What started out as a hobby for Andrew Groves grew into an avocation, then a growing business and now provides a new anchor for the redevelopment of Old Town Greenwood.
Planetary Brewing opened in 2013 as a nano-brewery in an office park just east of downtown. The space was functional but not especially conducive to retail traffic. Groves decided to expand into a historic location and help bring visitors and customers into the Old Town section of Greenwood at the corner of Madison and Main Streets. The original space still operates as Planetary’s beer production site, but in November 2016, Groves opened the new taproom at 188 South Madison.
“The brewery space is tucked away and surrounded by neighborhoods. Most people didn’t realize it was there and still don’t,” he says. “It’s limited space and not easy to find. We talked to the mayor and he said, ‘We need to get you downtown’. The city is starting a facade renovation project, and it was the right time for us to move. Over the next five or 10 years, this area is really going to grow.
“Revery (restaurant) came in just a few months before us, and I think the city saw us as a good addition to the area.”
Initially, Planetary leased the space for the taproom, but Groves’ family purchased both the present building and the one next door. They’ve begun renovation on the second building to turn it into an expanded taproom with a kitchen and space for events.
The property dates back to the turn of the century and has housed a variety of businesses over the years.
“The two buildings used to be joined, but the city’s records only go back to about 1900,” Groves says. “It was originally a grocery store, and by 1920 it was a restaurant. After that it was a barber shop, a boutique, a bike shop, and in the 90s it was briefly a coffee shop. Over the years, the area declined and it sat empty for several years.
“Like any old building, there are at least five layers of brick underneath the floor,” he adds. “The building next door has 18-foot ceilings, and at some point the owner created a second floor. We hope to make that into a reception/events center and then expand the taproom and kitchen on the first floor.
“We really need to add food,” Groves says. “We don’t mind patronizing other businesses and allowing customers to bring their food in, but we want to offer our own as well.”
Groves can’t project an opening date for the kitchen. “Everything seems to take about a year,” he laughs. “It all depends on the building. We have a lot to do structurally, with new plumbing and electrical.”
The taproom highlights the astronomical theme throughout the first floor and a second-floor alcove. There is a space mural on the wall, a rocket on the ceiling and various sci-fi and space references throughout the room.
“I like science fiction,” Groves says. “I like astronomy and took some classes in college. The deeper you get to it, the more mathematical it gets, and that’s kind of tedious, but I’m still interested in it.
“When I started, there weren’t many space-themed breweries. There are a bunch now. But back in the 90s there was a video named ‘Planetary Traveler’, and I wanted to make several different beer styles, so I started thinking of each beer style as being a planet. And I wanted to visit them all. You’d never guess you were walking into a space-themed taproom from the exterior. And we like that surprise factor.”
Until there is food made on premises, Planetary’s beer selection will have to draw the customers in. Though the operation will triple beer production with its new space, Groves must carefully schedule his equipment to make sure he can keep a variety of beers on tap.
“Our Chemtrails Cream Ale and McGilvery’s Irish Red will always be on tap,” he says. “And then we’ll always have a dark beer, alternating between Parallax Citra-hopped Amber and Solar Milk Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. That gives me one fermenter to play around with.
“Our customer base dictates which beers we make, and we’ve got a pretty good handle on what sells the most,” Groves adds. “We’ve hung our hats on providing our customers with a variety, because that’s what they expect.”
Planetary Brewing Taproom is open from 4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-10 Fridays, 2-10 Saturdays, and noon until 6 on Sundays.