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From fire hoses to fresh hops

Station 1 Brewing Company offers a space for the community to come together

By Rachel Sankey

The outside of Station 1 Brewing Company. The brewery opened its doors in September 2021. Rachel Sankey Photos

A building serving the community since the 1950s is still serving the community more than 70 years later, though its mission and aesthetic appeal has changed a bit.

In 2019, the Village of Suamico’s Fire Department began the process of replacing its aging Fire Station No. 1, located at 1745 Riverside Dr., with a brand new station less than a mile away.

In that same year, Pete App said he began playing with the idea of opening a brewery in the old fire station, and things took off from there.

“At that point, there were plans in the works to build a new station,” App said. “That same week, I called up the village and asked to take a tour.”

When September 2021 rolled around, the garage doors that once opened for fire trucks now opened to Station 1 Brewing Company’s patio, with App as one of its five owners – the majority of them being family members.

“We had to go through a process to be able to buy the building,” App said. “The village had put out to various parties, including myself and other developers, a request for a proposal. They wanted to have a place that fit what’s happening downtown here and at the right price in the village… fortunately, we fit those two.”

The name Station 1 Brewing, he said, wasn’t hard to come up with.

“We take our name from the building, which is the Suamico Fire Department’s original Fire Station No. 1,” he said. “How could we name the brewery anything else?”

As a home brewer for more than 10 years, App said opening a commercial brewery was exciting while simultaneously intimidating.

App said to help aid him in the endeavor, he took an eight-week course at the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to learn how to write a business plan.

Continuing his scope of knowledge even more, he said he is attending school online through Siebel Institute for commercial brewing.

The atmosphere

An inside view of Station 1. On top of beverages and appetizers, the brewery offers live music, trivia and other events.

When the Station 1 team worked on rebranding the facility to their liking, App said they made sure to keep some elements of the fire station alive, while, at the same time, creating a new and personal image for themselves.

“We’re in an old fire station,” he said. “That’s our origin story, but it’s not our identity.”

App said most of the ownership team grew up in big cities, such as Chicago and Los Angeles, and wanted to incorporate a big-city, modern feel into the brewery.

App said mixed in with the comfortable and cozy vibes of the space are remnants of the old fire station, which make for great conversation starters – especially among firefighters.

“You see elements of the fire station, like this climavent system that the fire department left behind,” he said. “Firefighters come in and immediately know what that is. We wanted to have enough fire-related decor where you know what this once was, but not so over the top that it becomes overwhelming.”

The offerings

The old fire station was built in three different sections, App said. The first section of the building, where the firetrucks were housed, is now the brewery and music hall for Station 1.

Outside of hops and appetizers, Station 1 also offers live music, trivia nights, a space for private events and more.

“Thursday nights are our main music nights,” App said. “We have mostly local, but some regional acts performing. It’s been well-received. Being a musician myself, I wanted to create a place where there’s good music, at least one night a week. Hopefully more in the future.”

The farthest left room of the building stands as the brewery, as well as the music hall.

Eventually, once the music hall is fully finished, App said Station 1 will have ticketed music events.

As of right now, the music nights are free.

At the heart of Station 1 Brewing Company, App said, is the community.

“We love beer, but we love the community more,” he said. “We want to create a place where you can be with friends and remember what you did the previous night. We’re constantly hearing that people like the vibe and that people feel seen here.”

App said the brewery’s creed brings the mission and passion for community full circle – with all involved doing what they can to continue the community-centered focus, both in the present and in the future.

Rachel Sankey is the associate editor of Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached via email at [email protected].

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