Big Grove Brewery expanding distribution in Nebraska

New taproom in Omaha set to open in early 2025

Big Grove Brewery Omaha Nebraska Catalyst location
A rendering showing the Catalyst development at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, which will include Big Grove Brewery's new taproom and restaurant. The new taproom is set to open by spring 2025. CREDIT BIG GROVE BREWERY

Big Grove Brewery has announced plans to open wide-scale distribution in Nebraska, starting this month, Big Grove officials announced March 6.

This marks the second state outside Iowa for Big Grove expansion, after the brewery launched with Stern Beverage in IllInois in December 2023.

Partnering with local distributor Quality Brands of Omaha, Big Grove’s flagship beers, including Easy Eddy Hazy IPA and Citrus Surfer Citrus Wheat, started hitting shelves and draft lines at select accounts March 1.

The Solon-based brewery also announced plans to open a full-scale taproom and restaurant in Omaha by spring 2025.

“Seeing the success of Big Grove in their home state of Iowa has us extremely excited about our partnership,” said Justin Burr, director of brand development at Quality Brands, in a release. “We are looking at our future together as not only an opportunity to bring some more great beers to Nebraska, but Quality Brands is privileged to be one of Big Grove’s first steps to becoming a major regional brewery. We have a commitment to excellence in its simplest form, to provide the best service possible, both for our customers and our supplier partners. Big Grove checks all the boxes.”

Quality Brands had always been on Big Grove’s radar as they looked westward, Big Grove CEO and co-founder Matthew Swift.

“We have been very intentional as we discussed extending outside of Iowa, and have done a lot of market analysis, to determine not just where we are going, but also who we would work with,” Mr. Swift said. “Quality Brands was always seen as a potential partner who could allow us to not just enter the market, but also leverage their distribution footprint, team, and support assets to scale it quickly.”

The Omaha taproom will mark Big Grove’s firth location and would be similar in scale to their Iowa City, Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids locations in Iowa, with an over 10,500 square foot taproom and a 6,000 square foot patio. Big Grove’s newest taproom in Cedar Rapids opened in December 2023.

The new Omaha taproom will be a cornerstone in the ongoing Catalyst development at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).

The Catalyst project, which began construction in 2023 as a redevelopment of the Omaha Steel Works Facility and to provide an innovation hub for the Center, is set for completion by late 2024.

“This development is Omaha’s newest and most exciting infill project, With more than $250 million in active development and ultimate vision of over $600 million in new office, retail, housing, and park space in the heart of the city,”  said Jay Lund, principal of GreenSlate, who oversees the Catalyst development in partnership with Koelbel Companies and the UNMC. “This project is connected to Omaha and Nebraska’s largest economic generator in the UNMC. There is a decade or more to come of announcements ready to fill this space, of which Big Grove is one of the first.”

“Omaha needs a Big Grove of their own,” Mr. Lund added. “This concept and these operators are going to raise the bar. Catalyst is an innovation hub, and what better place to innovate than a brewery.”

Big Grove leaders say they saw the opportunity right away at Catalyst.

“We wanted a location in the center of Omaha, and we always love being part of the revitalization of the communities we are part of,” Mr. Swift said.

Touring the plant building last June as part of the selection process was “inspiring and a little overwhelming,” Mr. Swift noted. “A lot of people have asked where we might be headed next, and I can’t think of a better site and partner to mark our first location outside the state of Iowa.”

Big Grove Brewery is among Iowa’s top craft beer producers and ranks in the top 2% for barrel production nationally. The brewery started as a 3.5-barrel brewhouse in Solon in 2013 and focused on freshly-made craft beer and elevated pub cuisine.

The brewery opened a 28,000-square-foot production facility four years later, anchoring the Iowa City Riverfront Crossings redevelopment project with additional concepts opening in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Big Grove has received multiple craft brewing medals, including a gold medal for Easy Eddy, its flagship Hazy IPA, Citrus Surfer Fruited Wheat and most recently, a Great American Beer Festival (GABF) 2023 silver medal for Festbier, a Bavarian-style Märzen.

Quality Brands is a family-owned and operated beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic beverage distributor that represents over 100 suppliers and more than 2,500 brands. They employ over 400 across their locations, operating eight warehouses in Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado that cover over 80 counties and 4,600-plus retail accounts.

The “Catalyst” project is the redevelopment of a historic 170,000-square-foot structure that formerly served as a steel works facility. The development will be an innovation hub at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  The project, which is part of the larger Saddle Creek redevelopment, broke ground in early 2023 with a targeted completion of late 2024.