HEATH — A novelty Christmas gift Adam Rhodes’ wife bought him more than 10 years ago has turned into a new business venture with the signing of a lease and the purchasing of equipment this week.
Rhodes, who moved to Granville when his wife started teaching at Denison University, has brewed his own beer at home for the past decade. Now, he and a friend, Kevin Atkinson, plan to open their own microbrewery, Homestead Beer Co., in Heath.
“I always prefer the beer I make to most of the beers I can buy,” said Rhodes, who is a software engineer in Columbus. “Home brewing as an art grew out of a desire for people to replicate what commercial brewers are doing.”
The company will sell only kegs to restaurants and bars, at least for now. Rhodes said he hopes to open in August or September.
In late 2010, Rhodes decided he would like to start a brewery. He took online courses from Siebel World Brewing Academy in Chicago. He and Atkinson now are leasing a small building at the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority.
“It’s a great small business, economic development story,” said Rick Platt, director of the port authority. “Our hope is that they outgrow this building and need more space and need a site.”
The 4,500-square-foot building that will house the brewery formerly stored instruction booklets for Air Force equipment. Many of the smaller buildings have served as “incubators” for companies, such as a lightweight concrete company that merged with a larger Akron company, and Goodrich, which expanded to a new building at the port authority.
Platt said the site has a lot of qualities that larger breweries would look for.
“Heath has a wonderful water supply; redundant electric and gas,” he said. “Those are things that are needed for bigger breweries.”
A discussion with city water officials cemented Rhodes’ decision to brew in the city.
“They had a full brewing water report for me. It’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s just the exact kind of water you’d want to brew with.”
Initially, Homestead Beer Co. will make an American Pale Ale, an Indian Pale Ale and an amber.
The goal is to specialize in “session ales,” which generally have a 4 to 6 percent alcohol by volume.
“I like to be able to have two beers for dinner and not feel like you have to have somebody drive you home,” Rhodes said.
The equipment has been ordered, and Rhodes is excited about trying his favorite home-brewed recipes on a larger scale.
“It’s not just a multiplication process,” he said. “Those first couple of batches on that big system are kind of going to be feeling it out.”
It will be a big improvement over making the beer in his basement, where even tiny temperature changes can affect the taste.
“It’s really kind of fascinating how finicky beer is,” Rhodes said.
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