Second craft brewery prepares for July opening in Columbia

Second craft brewery prepares for July opening in Columbia

By William Williams

Downtown Columbia is slated for what will be its second craft brewery.

Slated for a mid-July opening, Bad Idea Brewing Co. will join Asgard Brewing Co., which opened near the Duck River in 2016.

Zac Fox, who co-owns Bad Idea with Todd Rode, said the brewing business will operate from a 1,400-square-foot space previously home to the CAB Cafe in the Columbia Arts Building at 307 W. 11th St.

“Our space has a wonderful beer garden just outside the garage door,” Fox said. “So much of what goes on in the Columbia Arts Building is about connecting people and shared cultural expression — and our space is set up perfectly to facilitate that.”

Fox said that he and Rode, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business, are handling bulk of the work and have no paid employees. Fox focuses on the brewing and operations and Rode oversees finances.

“We have an excellent circle of family, friends, colleagues and fans who have bent over backwards to help us with anything we’ve needed — whether it is spreading the word, helping with build-out, or lending their skills in different trades/arts,” Fox said. “We want to get our legs steady beneath us before we start moving in the direction of hiring additional employees.”

Fox said Bad Idea will not focus on a particular style or type of beer, nor offer a flagship ale or lager. But it will feature a taproom.

“We’ll try to keep our tap wall balanced with styles to meet a variety of palates,” he said. “Given the small size of our brewing system (a three-barrel operation with a 93-gallon capacity), we can afford to be inventive on what we offer and experiment with new styles, hops and adjuncts. And that is something that is really appealing to us.”

Fox and Rode estimate they will have spent at least $100,000 to get operational.

“We’ve been trying to keep our costs low, as we are self funding the enterprise,” Fox said.

“The unfortunate nature of brewing economics is that the costs are all upfront and intertwined,” he said. “Just to get to the point that you can start brewing and actually sell a product, you end up spending the majority of your investment. Opening a brewery is a money fire. It’s important to have fun and roast a marshmallow or two over it, or else you’ll drive yourself crazy.”

Fox said Columbia’s craft beer scene can benefit from spillover from neighboring Williamson County, which is home to Mantra and Cool Springs brewing companies. Davidson County — Columbia and Nashville are separated by about 50 miles — offers about 20 breweries.

“I happened to stumble into the Columbia Arts Building after renewing my car tags,” he said. “I was instantly enamored, asked for the owner, and after sitting down with the multi-talented, kick-ass Holly Freeman (CAB co-owner with husband Robert Freeman), we jumped at the opportunity to have a space in the Arts Building. Shortly after signing our lease, my wife and I relocated to Columbia because we are in love with the city.”

In addition to Bad Idea and Asgard, Columbia is home to craft beer bottle shop and growler-fill station Taps Off Main, owned by Will Hoelscher.

“The city has a burgeoning beer culture,” Fox said. “We are excited to let the community see the process of going grain to glass at Bad Idea, all under one roof.

“We’re just hoping Bad Idea doesn’t live up to its name,” he added with a chuckle.

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