Last week, Bill Baburek drove to Wisconsin and back in two days, all to pick up the butcher block-style bar and table tops for Infusion Brewing Company, a new brewery in Benson.
Baburek, the owner and founder of Crescent Moon Ale House and several connected craft beer bars at 36th and Farnam streets, announced last year that he was planning to open a brewery in Benson. This was news that Omaha’s many craft beer aficionados were excited about — Crescent Moon was among the first of Omaha’s many craft beer bars, and Baburek is thus a bit of an unofficial founding father of Omaha’s quickly growing craft beer scene.
A year later, the completion of the brewery is finally in sight.
The brewing equipment — which was carefully extracted from the building that currently houses Blue Sushi downtown (it was a brewery prior to being a sushi restaurant) — was installed, a head brewer hired, the brewery’s facade returned to what it looked like when the building was new in 1917, and most of the construction completed. Infusion doesn’t have space for a full kitchen, so Baburek also set about planning a menu of lighter fare such as cheese curds, hummus, salami and, occasionally, beer-steamed bratwurst — a nod to the building’s original use as a meat market.
Baburek hopes to open in August or September, but on Saturday he’ll give fans a sneak peek of both the building and the beer.
He’ll host an open house at Infusion’s new digs at 6115 Maple St. from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. And earlier in the day, four of Infusion’s new beers — an IPA, a black IPA, a hoppy wheat beer and a vanilla bean brown ale —will be available for tasting at the second annual Benson Beer Fest.
This will be just a sampling of what the brewery will eventually offer, Baburek said. Infusion will likely start out with about six beers on tap, and that number will likely grow to about 15 once the brewery is more established. Many of those beers will be small batches of specialty beers that head brewer Aaron Bush makes in conjunction with local home brewers or visiting brewers from regional and national breweries.
The building itself will have the original hexagon tile floor, tile walls and pressed tin ceiling — all of which were uncovered during the remodeling process.
The project has been both cost- and labor-intensive, Baburek said.
“It’s not for the faint of heart.”
But he’s excited about the beer. And Baburek, who is a bit of a history buff, has appreciated all of the original architectural elements that have surfaced during renovations, too.
“Hopefully the people in Benson and Omaha will appreciate what we’ve done and what we’re trying to accomplish up there,” he said.