Bellevue brewery opens expansive, riverside location

River Ridge Brewing opened its new location along the Mississippi River in Bellevue, Iowa, on Friday, April 9, 2021. Pictured are two of the co-owners, Kelly Hueneke (left) and Allison Simpson. PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Kettering

BELLEVUE, Iowa — A Bellevue brewery opened a new expansive location Friday.

River Ridge Brewing opened its new location at 303 S. Riverview St. The new riverside facility replaces its former location at 118 N. Riverview Drive.

Over the past year, the owners of River Ridge Brewing worked to renovate the lower portion of the aged building to create a comfortable and inviting taproom that leads to an expansive porch overlooking the Mississippi River.

Co-owner Nic Hockenberry said the building last served as a dealership for agricultural equipment manufacturer International Harvester, which went defunct in 1984.

“The building was in rough shape when we first checked it out,” he recalled. “When we walked outside and saw we would have a patio that was right on the river, we knew we wanted to do whatever we could to make this building work.”

The new brewery taproom can seat up to about 120 to 140 people, while the outdoor patio space can hold 80 to 100 patrons.

River Ridge Brewing was opened by Nick and Kelly Hueneke in 2016 at the North Riverview Drive location. Hockenberry and his wife, Allison Simpson, later joined as co-owners. Hockenberry also serves as the director of the Jackson County Economic Alliance.

Along with the owners running the brewery, Hockenberry said five part-time employees have been hired.

River Ridge Brewing will provide the same beers it offered at its previous location, along with introducing new drinks including stouts and India pale ales. The new location also allows River Ridge Brewing to dramatically increase production, expanding from a one-barrel system to a 3.5-barrel system.

Throughout the summer, the brewery will introduce special events and drinks centered around the new outdoor patio space, including serving beer slushies and what Hockenberry described as “a brewery version of sangria.”

Hockenberry said River Ridge Brewing intended to open the new location earlier but the timeline was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The brewery owners also originally intended to fund the renovation through continued business at the original location, but that taproom closed due to the pandemic and never reopened. Without the continued support of customers ordering beers through curbside service, Hockenberry said, the new location might not have opened.

“We couldn’t have done this without the community support,” he said. “We are incredibly thankful to them.”

While Hockenberry declined to say specifically how much money the company spent on the renovation of the new building, he noted that it was five times what was spent on the previous brewery location.

While the renovation was designed to give the brewery a more modern feel, Hockenberry said, attention was given to retain aspects of the building, primarily through exposing the original limestone walls.

He said the brewery’s former location soon will be home to a new restaurant, though he declined to offer further details on the incoming business’s identity.