Petroleum Club

The former Petroleum Club is the potential home for a planned Casper microbrewery. Once a hub for local business and politics, the club closed Oct. 1 after years of declining membership.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

A pair of local brothers are behind the plan to open a microbrewery and restaurant at the former Casper Petroleum Club site.

Daron Gruner has been brewing beer at home for 25 years and is now teaming up with his brother, Ben Gruner, to purchase the club property and take his hobby commercial.

“It’s just something we enjoy doing and we saw a need in Casper,” Ben Gruner told reporters Tuesday.

In order to create a viable business, the brothers realized they would need a microbrewery where it was possible to package and distribute beer.

“We wanted to make something that was a little larger than say just a brewpub,” Ben Gruner said. “It has to be able to produce enough product to make a profit.”

Following the closure of downtown Casper’s Wonder Bar, the city has been without a local microbrewery. While the bar’s new owner, Cole Cercy, announced plans to relocate the Wonder Bar’s brewing equipment to a liquor store in north Casper, the Wonder Bar never packaged or distributed its beer.

Ben Gruner said Gruner Brothers Brewing — the new company’s preferred, though unofficial, name — would distribute its product around Casper and Wyoming.

The brothers received a green light from Casper City Council on Tuesday to build a microbrewery on the property, which is in the North Platte Industrial Park, despite city code that does not explicitly allow for breweries.

“There’s a narrow list of permitted uses,” city planner Aaron Kloke told council. “You don’t see microbreweries anywhere on there.”

The plan submitted by the Gruners called for constructing up to six 35-foot grain silos in the parking lot. Kloke noted the maximum allowed height in the industrial park was 80 feet.

“The silos are not gigantic before everyone goes ballistic,” Ben Gruner said.

Kloke said Council was allowed to approve additional uses and there were no objections from members.

“We’re ready to rock and roll,” Mayor Kenyne Humphrey said.

Daron Gruner said he and his brother had been interested in opening a brewery for some time.

“We’ve been looking for real estate around town but were having trouble finding an area in which to build a building or repurpose a building,” he said.

When the Petroleum Club closed in October due to declining membership, the brothers realized they had found the right site.

The brothers said that once the sale closed, hopefully by the end of next week, they would release a statement describing their plans in more detail.

“We’re not really ready to share everything,” Ben Gruner said.

Several local bars including the Wonder Bar and Roaring 22, both downtown, are hoping to open or reopen in time for the August eclipse festival, expected to draw over 10,000 visitors to Casper.

But that simply wasn’t possible for the microbrewery project.

Renovation work could begin within the next few months, Ben Gruner said, but it would take up to 10 months to receive all the permits and brewing equipment necessary to open.

The brothers are co-owners of Compression Leasing Services, an oil field service company based in Casper and with offices in Gillette, Denver and Houston.


State Politics Reporter

Arno Rosenfeld covers state politics including the Legislature and Wyoming’s D.C. delegation, focusing especially on the major issues facing the Cowboy State like economic diversification and what it means to be the most conservative state in the nation.

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