A hot air balloon in flight, the wind of artistic license angling its uplift, distinguishes the sign of the new Wonder Aleworks in Midtown Reno, in the former Under the Rose Brewing space between Rum Sugar Lime and Pizzava.
The balloon and the name Wonder celebrate a hot air balloon flight taken by Nick Fischella, owner of Wonder Aleworks, and the feeling it roused in him.
“It makes you wonder,” Fischella said of the flight. “You don’t have a motor. You’re floating thousands of feet in the air.”
Beyond this soaring sense of wonder, the name of the brewery also recognizes the sense of wonder that mingled hope, curiosity and perhaps a little doubt that Fischella said he felt as he recently turned 40.
“I wondered what I would do next. Will I have a family? Will I leave Las Vegas? Will COVID end? I was doing a lot of wondering.”
From this wonder and wondering, Wonder Aleworks was born.
The right energy, the right space
Fischella is a founder (and still a partner in) Banger Brewing, which debuted in Las Vegas in 2013. As he contemplated his next project, Fischella was open to leaving Las Vegas but not leaving Nevada.
Banger Brewing is on Fremont Street in Vegas, and when Fischella scouted potential Reno locations, he said the energy and renewal in Midtown reminded him of the revival of Fremont Street that has occurred over the past two decades.
So it seemed fortuitous the premises that once housed Under the Rose were sitting vacant in the heart of Midtown since the brewery’s sudden closure in November 2018.
“The were still rags on the counter,” Fischella said of the space when he first walked in. “There were still chemicals in the dishwasher.” But he could see the potential.
Debuting with 8 house beers on tap
Wonder Aleworks, at 1041 S. Virginia St., occupies part of a 1931 brick building that stretches from South Virginia to the alley behind. There’s a roomy front dining room with bar (and Nevada-shaped two-tops), an equally capacious back room with open kitchen, and a five-barrel nanobrewery.
Fischella said the brewpub would be tap-centric, with 24 taps total. If all goes well, the front room will open by Sept. 1 featuring at least eight house beers on tap. Fischella said he was hiring a local brewmaster, but he wouldn’t name names. Wines and cocktails on tap will be launched later.
A menu also is in the works, offering a modern take on brewpub dishes: hummus, shrimp and grits, elevated wings, sliders, Cubanos, quinoa bowls, sweet potato beignets, churros. The brewery operation will contribute to Wonder Aleworks’ food and drink, Fischella said.
“Hop-infused cocktails. Reduced wort for wort syrup. Grain flour for fish and chips. Tie it all together.”
As Fischella prepares to open Wonder Aleworks, there’s one thing he’s not wondering about: his decision to set up shop in Midtown. “How could I not make this happen?”
Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink writer for Reno News & Review. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsJLW or, for Reno News & Review food and drink content, at @FoodNevada. Sign up here for the Reno News & Review free weekly newsletter.