5 Star Story: Ghost River Brewing Co.

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 10:32 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There are roughly 20 different craft breweries in Memphis and this 5 Star Story is about one of them.

Ghost River Brewing Co. has “deep roots” in Memphis, and now, a second location on Beale Street that the owner hopes is bringing new life to the “quieter” side of that street.

The Ghost River meanders through more than 2,000 acres of Fayette County bottomland forests, cypress swamps and marshes. Conservationists consider it the “crown jewel” of the Wolf River, which helps recharge the Memphis Sand Aquifer that provides Memphians with some of “the sweetest water in the world.”

And according to the owner of Ghost River Brewing Company, “The secret to good beer is the water, because it’s the natural water available here that creates the actual craft beer that we make today.”

Bob Kesky is the owner of the brewery named after the Ghost River.

Every can from Ghost River Brewing is stamped with a cypress tree, like those found in the river’s wetlands. Kesky bought the brewery, in operation on South Main since 2007, three years ago.

Ghost River Brewing Company opened their first location in 2007.
Ghost River Brewing Company opened their first location in 2007.(Action News 5)

“Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which is--used to be--the beer capital of the world, so beer is my thing,” he said.

Owning a brewery was new for the businessman, but thanks to the pandemic, he had time to learn.

“And now I’m deep into it,” Kesky added. He also opened a second location in July of 2021, this time on Beale Street. “Supply Chain Solutions,” his logistics business, helped get the new location up and running.

“We had old semi-trailers that were no longer roadworthy, so I decided to tear all the wood flooring out of it and repurposed it, sand it and repurpose it. So all the wood you see in the bar, both at Main and here at Beale, and the outdoor stage is made from old wood, including the chairs that I’m sitting in, right now,” Kesky described.

Ghost River Brewing Company has a number of beers to choose from inside the brewery and in stores with names like Zippin Pippin, Grind House, and Rocket 88.

There’s even a specialty brew called “Brunch, Please!” - reminiscent of buttermilk blueberry pancakes.

“On tap currently, we have twelve that are on tap, add another four that are packaged in cans, sell it retail, we try to make a new beer every two weeks,” Kesky explained.

As for why Kesky decided to open another location so close to the first on Main, he said, “Well there’s two reasons, the Main brewery is a bigger production facility with a traditional tap room. We decided that we wanted our brewery and our name, the Ghost River name, in a very popular area of Memphis where people could walk to, and we’re on the side of Beale that has kind of been forgotten over the years. So we’re on the east side, the Fourth Street side of Beale. We’re trying to liven this side of Beale.”

Ghost River Brewing Company serves up brews at their two locations on Beale Street and South...
Ghost River Brewing Company serves up brews at their two locations on Beale Street and South Main.(Action News 5)

Kesky says the Beale location is a bit of everything: a sports bar, a family and music venue; food is there too, but Kesky outsourced that side of the business to New Wing Order.

“So New Wing Order is a food truck company that’s very popular, and I placed them in here in their first brick-and-mortar restaurant,” he explained.

Ghost River on Beale is an official Green Bay bar, and you’ll find a lot of Packers’ paraphernalia on the walls. “I brought my home to Memphis,” he said.

Don’t get it twisted, though, Kesky may be a Memphis transplant since 2010, but he loves this city.

“We’re big supporters of the Tigers, as well (that) go to the Tiger games. We’re actually formal partners of 901 FC and the Redbirds. We actually have a partnership with them. We’re massive supporters, season ticket holders of the Grizzlies--have been for 11 years. Al Capone comes and does his “Whoop That Trick” thing on the stage before every game,” he said with pride.

So, be it South Main or Beale, Kesky stakes his reputation on his beer and the atmosphere, and all are welcome.

“So people should expect to come in here and be in an environment that is open, diverse (and) friendly. And they get a choice of both worlds, quiet or vibrant,” he expressed.

Ghost River Brewing Company, showcasing craft brews using the natural resources that make us proud to call this place home.

Ghost River Brewing Company is also dog friendly, although you might not want to set up your pooch with a beer flight.

For more details about the brewery or the Ghost River, click here.

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