Just a few months after it opened its brewery resort complex outside Taylor, Neb., Sandhills Brewing Co. will return to the Grand Island Liederkranz for its Aug. 20 Craft Brew & Sausage Fest, to help raise funds for the historic facility. Sandhills Brewing Co., A.K.A Bootleg Brewers, opened the doors on its a brand-new 20-barrel brewery complex on in May, offering not only great craft beer, but also offering modern cabins for recreational tourists visiting nearby Calamus Reservoir or hunting in the Sandhills. All this offers a great retreat that is just a couple hours away from Grand Island. While they just opened their doors, brewing isn't anything new to Sandhills Brewing Co., the beginnings of which were sprouted in 1978 when Ron Worm's father-in-law included him in a home-brew session. They affectionately called their beer Musketeer Beer, because it was so musky it brought tears to their eyes. Worm wore many different hats over the years, from ranching and working as a foreman on the railroad, to cutting the first live tree out of the Halsey forest, and then on to owning his own sawmill, kiln, and more, but he never lost his passion for brewing. As brewing ingredients became more readily available, his hobby grew, and in 2001 Worm decided to brew a batch of all-grain beer with a friend in his wife Dodie’s kitchen, using his five-gallon buckets in which he had drilled holes They were pleasantly surprised with the resulting brew. Shortly thereafter, with the brewing help of a few friends, Worm created an all-grain home brew system in the basement of their home, using common household items. From that hard work, the brew "Cling On" was born, which got its name because of the large amount of grains required to make this tasty brew that also increases the ABV to about seven percent. "Easy drinking and high in alcohol can sneak up on you and before you know it you are looking for something or someone to 'Cling On' to," explains the brewer's website. "Sorry Star Trek fans, no relation here." As Worm's concoction attracted more visitors, in 2001 he decided to start his own brew club called Bootleg Brewers. The fall of 2015 will mark an achievement of having his very own brewery, one with cabins allowing visitors to stay a couple days and enjoy the Sandhills. "Bootleg Brewers got started with just my dad brewing beer in a basement, and it just kind of escalated from there. He was actually just doing too much beer at one point, so we thought we better get a license, better open up a small little pub out on our ranch," said Stephanie Clang with Bootleg Brewers to KBEAR 92.3. "And then it just kind of expanded from there to five cabins, a steakhouse and a twenty barrel brewing system, so it got a little crazy.... But, this is his dream and something he's always wanted to do, so we're all supporting him and we're having fun doing it."
Sandhills Brewing Co., Bootleg Brewery, with the cabins in the foreground and the brewery and restaurant in the background.