In the not-too-distant future, something other than coffee will be brewing in downtown Joplin.

Chaos Brewery is coming to the former J.B.’s Piano Bar at 112 S. Main St. This historic storefront is getting a complete makeover in preparation for a possible opening in November. The opening date will hinge on the obtaining of permits and licenses. Breweries are highly regulated.

This brewery is being opened by Dale Clark Jr., Daniel Crawford and Frank Ikerd, all of Joplin. This is their first venture of this kind. How these partners came together shows the importance of networking. Lori Haun, with the Downtown Joplin Alliance, connected the dots.

“Dale Clark told me he was looking for a site,” Haun said. “And then Frank Ikerd contacted me. I got them together, and now it looks like we’re getting a brewery. I think they’re going to do a fantastic job.”

Haun said a survey conducted last summer showed that a downtown brewery “was in the top three of what people wanted. It is a key thing for the downtown.”

It’s the kind of thing that drives visitors to a downtown area.

The arrival of the brewery is already having an effect on the 100 block of Main Street. Improvements to once-vacant buildings are being made. Haun said a meeting has been held with the current property owners in that geographic area to stimulate the possibility of collaboration. That section of Main Street has access to some on-street parking and a large parking area that has been created at the rear of 112 S. Main St.

Ikerd said he attended a craft-brewing conference in Denver to help him determine what type of brewing system to install and to identify the producers of suitable hops and grains.

“We are putting in a seven-barrel system. Smaller breweries have one-barrel systems,” he said. “We thought if we are successful we would outgrow a one-barrel system. That’s why we chose a bigger system to start with.”

A one-barrel system produces approximately 31 gallons of beer. It can take weeks to create a batch of beer depending on the ingredients. Light beers generally take less time than dark beers.

“People passing by on Main Street will be able to see the stainless-steel fermenters inside the brewery,” Ikerd said. “You will be able to see the brewing from the bar and what goes into the beer.”

Brewing is quite a process. It includes malting, milling, mashing, lautering, boiling, fermenting, filtering and packaging. The basic ingredients of beer are water and a fermentable starch, such as malted barley. A single-celled organism called yeast metabolizes the starch-derived sugars, creating ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide in the process. Most beer is fermented with a brewer’s yeast and flavored with hops.

Joplin, in its early days, had more than one brewery to sate the thirst of the hard-rock miners of the Tri-State Mining District. These breweries created great wealth. Among the notables were Edward Zelleken, a German-born brewer, and Charles Schifferdecker, who were partners in a brewery at Baxter Springs, Kansas. They made the move together to Joplin in 1875. Their homes in Joplin’s historic Murphysburg District are being restored for future generations to appreciate.

Chaos Brewery, the first brewery to operate in Joplin in decades, will not have a restaurant. Opening a restaurant and brewery at the same time would be daunting, to say the least. Ikerd said, “There are plenty of good restaurants in downtown Joplin. But we might let people people bring food into the brewery, and we might bring in some food trucks.”

The brewery has created a Facebook page and website. The brewery will have a newsletter with updates and activities, and a consumer feedback area.

So what’s the story behind the name?

“My wife, Valarie, was grocery shopping at Target. She was all stressed out about not being able to shop anymore at a full-service grocery store,” Ikerd said with a laugh. “She went into the next aisle, the wine aisle, and the word ‘chaos’ just jumped out her. That’s it. Everybody can identify with the chaos in our lives.”

Well said. You know, a good brew can help with that.

If you have news about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, dial 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.

Wally Kennedy is a reporter and columnist for The Joplin Globe.

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