Firefighters Work As Brewers For Salina’s Microbrewery

blue skye brewery

A pair of firefighters are doubling as brewers for Salina’s first microbrewery.

Josh Foley and John Goertzen work together at Fire Station No. 1 and are also responsible for creating the craft beers at Blue Skye Brewery, which is set to open in downtown Salina this fall.

Foley’s grandparents lived in Salina and he’s been in the area for 10 years. He has been home brewing since the 1990s, but really got serious in 2005.

The firefighters created a brew club in town that year.

Goertzen was born and raised in Salina. He’s been brewing since 2008.

The brewery’s owner, former Salina mayor Monte Shadwick, works with Goertzen’s sister-in-law.

Shadwick came up with the idea of opening the city’s first microbrewery, but needed brewers.

One day at the office, Monte asked if anybody knew someone who was into brewing beer. Goertzen’s sister-in-law said Goertzen was and that got the two talking.

Goertzen knew he could’t do the brewing alone and so he brought Foley along to an informal meeting in a bar between the three. After that, the trio began making plans for the brewery and buying supplies.

Foley says they are all about brewing beers that the region and locals will enjoy.

“Being connected with the community like we are, we really feel like we have a good idea of what people are going to like.” 

He says they are designing four flagship beers, including of course, a wheat beer. 

“You can’t be a Kansas brewer and not have a good wheat beer,” Foley said. “So we’re going to have a real light colored, light all the way around, wheat beer called 6th Street Wheat.”

The brewery is located on Santa Fe Ave., which if was numbered like the rest of the streets, would be 6th St.

They are naming their red ale, Fire Engine Red.

“Introducing people to color, while keeping everything else mild, is where we’re going into a red.

“It’s kind of an ode to our firefighter background and our brothers there.”

They are providing an introduction into hops with a real light colored pale ale called Blue Skye Pale.

“We’re going to introduce some people to some pretty floral, piney, resiny at some points, hops.”

Foley says they are also creating a yet to be named stout beer.

“It’s amazing how many people get into drinking good beer through stout,”.

The brewery will also supply seasonal beers on tap.

Goertzen says that craft brewing in a pub atmosphere allows them to adjust their flavors based on the community’s preferences.

“We’re not stuck on one little recipe,” Goertzen said. “If there’s one little thing that a number of people in our community say ‘that’s got kind of a weird flavor’, we can always change it.

“That’s what our plan is. To mold our beers for what the people in our community want.”

Goertzen says after sampling their beers for a long time, the other firefighters are very excited that the pair is responsible for the beer at the new brewery.

“It’s not hard to convince a bunch of firemen to come try our stuff.”

He says there is a lot of buzz in the community about the opening of the brewery.

“There’s lots of people that ask us when it’s going to open, so I think the anticipation is going to work for us in a big way.”

Foley says they both work at the fire station, but different shifts, which will allow them to brew on their off days. 

“We’re able to cover everything we need to for the brewery, but still, of course, do what we need to do for the Salina Fire Department.

“John and I are both real dedicated firefighters, but we tell some of our best friends, these are the best two jobs in the world, so couldn’t be much happier.”

Blue Skye Brewery will be located at 116 N. Santa Fe Ave in Salina.