Defiance Brewing Company owners opened a new location in Hays — and this one serves food

Alice Mannette/Hays Daily News
Co-owners Matt Bender and Dylan Sultzer of Defiance Brewing Co. in Hays show off their craft beer, which will be a part of Brew on the Bricks this year.

Although the owners of Defiance Brewing Company enjoy brewing and drinking beer, they are also foodies at heart. That is why when they had the chance to open another location downtown, they took it. 

"We get to bring all this creativity to the beer side while neglecting our foodie side," said Matt Bender. "Now we can do both." 

On June 9, the downtown brewery and taproom opened on 7th Street and Fort Street. In addition to their locally-brewed beers, the new location sells thin, brick-oven pizza, chicken and all sorts of burgers. 

"We want to treat the menu downtown the way we treat the beer," said Dylan Sultzer, co-owner of the brewery. "We want to change the ingredients often."

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Matt Bender, a co-owner of Defiance Brewing Co., folds t-shirts at their new location on Fort Street.

Bender and Sultzer started the original brewery in 2013 at 2050 Old Highway 40 on the southeast edge of town. Their goal was to distribute their beer across the state and even outside the state. Before COVID-19 hit, they had reached their goal. But then came the pandemic and things changed. 

"Everything turned more hyper-local," Sultzer said. "The local communities are supporting their local breweries." 

Sidney Splicha attaches caps to canned beer at Defiance Brewing Co. in Hays.

The two realized their success was in their location and their loyal customers from Ellis County. While they watched sales outside of Hays decrease, their sales in Hays remained steady. They will continue to sell their brew throughout Kansas and in Kansas City, Mo., but they want to make sure they continue to serve their customer base. 

Both breweries will serve around 10 beers on tap at any given time, and two to four canned options are always available, including seasonal offerings. 

Along with unique graphics, some designed by Sultzer, who studied graphic design while at Fort Hays State University, the beers have interesting names and blends. These include Steady Mooving, an imperial stout with coconut; Sweet Love, a double IPA; Fuzzy Knuckles, an imperial stout, and Kansan, a beer made out of U.S. grown wheat. Defiance also sells lemon-lime flavored hard seltzer and recently introduced their newest beer, Twisted Logik, an IPA.

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Matt Bender, a co-owner of Defiance Brewing Co., stands in front of the brewery's new location on Fort Street in downtown Hays.

Along with continually changing the beer flavors and can designs, Bender and Sultzer are using aged barrels for their downtown endeavor. The space also features stylish wooden chairs, large murals (designed and painted by Sultzer), a tiled tap and plenty of parking.

"There’s a great resurrection over the past 15 to 20 years downtown," Bender said.  "Going downtown is something we've been interested in for a long time."

Bender and Sultzer are excited to participate in downtown events, as well as open their location to some Fort Hays events. As they both have German heritage, they are excited to be a part of Oktoberfest this year.

"We want to be involved in anything the city does," Benders said. "We're so excited to get downtown."