CLEAR LAKE - The gift of a Mr. Beer brewing kit was the genesis for a new Clear Lake business.
Bob and Suzy Rolling of Clear Lake are the owners of Lake Time Brewery, 801 Main Ave.
Bob, a Bancroft native and former surgical equipment salesman, said he started brewing his own beer when his brother Ed presented him with a beer kit.
“How many times have you heard that? The funny thing is the beer was drinkable,” Bob said. “It wasn’t spectacular, and then I kind of laid off a little bit for a few years and then we moved back here,.”
The couple wanted to move back to North Iowa after living in Iowa City and South Dakota.
Lake Time is located on the corner of Eighth and Main in Clear Lake.
When renovations are completed, the place will seat 35 people.
The building is owned by Rhonda and Tim Clark of Clark and Associates Real Estate. Their business will continue to be located in the building but much of the current office space will be remodeled as the bar area and seating for the brewery.
Rolling said he wanted to strike while the iron is hot.
“The industry itself is just huge,” he said. “We would have liked to have a little more time to prepare. But I thought if I don’t do it now, somebody else is going to do it.”
They plan to start small.
“We want a real homey feel, a place where you can sit and hang out and have a drink,” he said.
Rolling hopes to have Lake Time Brewery up and running by Memorial Day weekend, and it will be open seven days a week.
He plans to offer his American wheat, brown ale and pale ale brews to start.
“That is going to hit most people’s palates,” Rolling said.
The beers will have names related to the lake.
Rolling said Lake Time isn’t a time at all.
“It’s a state of mind,” he said.
Past a pair of caramel-colored couches, Paul Terpilowski sips a pint of pale ale while a Bob Dylan ballad mingles with small talk.
It’s a Saturday night in Homewood, and the native Englishman, like other patrons, has found a place that suits his palette.
“I just like the ambience—an actual bar in America with no sports screens,” Terpilowski said. “It’s as close as I can get to an English pub. You’ve got quality beer and you have to use the art of conversation.”
Homewood, IL, USA
If not for the sign outside that reads Grape Grain Co., a passer-by might mistake the decor and warm lighting for that of a bookstore.
But the works that line the wooden shelves aren’t rare first editions. Instead, there’s quaffable treasures such as a Jigsaw pinot noir from Oregon or an Arrogant Bastard, a boastfully bold California ale featuring a smug, beer mug-gripping demon on the label.
A line of rear coolers is filled with carryout brews, eight craft beers are on tap and another three-dozen tap handles lie in wait above the bar’s wine glass rack for the next keg changeover.
But there is not a single television to draw eyes or drown conversation.
“This isn’t a sports bar,” Jim Rooke of nearby Glenwood said as he joined his wife and another couple for a round of drinks. “I wouldn’t be here if it was a sports bar.”
Homewood’s new nightspot puts hops before hoops and grapes over gridiron. Owner Ron Khalaf wanted it that way when he opened Grape Grain in September as a place where patrons could taste and learn about beers and wines, have a drink or two at the bar and buy favorites to bring home.
The Homewood Village Board welcomed the addition to an already bustling downtown just east of the Metra tracks at Dixie Highway. Trustees, however, held Khalaf to his no-TV pledge in late November when they agreed to pull the cork on what had been a two-drink limit.
Homewood typically requires bar owners to commit to a 3-1 food-to-liquor sales ratio. Grape Grain doesn’t serve food, so its initial license was limited to two drinks per customer.
“It’s not really that people need more than two drinks,” Khalaf said. “It’s just that when you get a customer who requests another drink and you tell them, ‘Well, we have a two-drink limit,’ they look at you like, ‘This is a bar.’”
The new license removed the limit while stipulating that Grape Grain could not install TVs or seek video gambling machines. Homewood officials said they wanted to support a nice addition to the town’s nightlife.
“I’ve been there several times and I don’t even drink,” said Trustee Anne Colton. “It’s a good place to talk.”
Khalaf aims to keep it that way. He plans to add more couches and a piano to bolster his live music offerings.
“I could’ve done a sports bar with 100 TVs and had the food, but we didn’t want that,” he said. “We wanted something different.”
Khalaf says his next step is to open a brewery in Homewood. For now, he sells home-brewing supplies and offers monthly beer-making classes.
There also are regular wine and beer tastings at Grape Grain, though Miller Lite and white zinfandel drinkers may be disappointed.
“We only serve craft beers and fine wines,” Khalaf said. “Our motto is drink something different tonight.”
When Francis Booth was of a tender age, he developed a fondness for science — for chemistry, in particular.
He later used that fondness to brew a batch of beer at home. It took only that first batch for him to realize his newest passion, which he worked on perfecting for a while before moving on with life and career.
But the fire still flickered. Three and a half years ago, he got back to home brewing, a hobby that has drawn in thousands of Americans since it was legalized by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
Much has changed since then. Basic brewing for many in the hobby has morphed into craft brewing, involving fragrant herbs, grains and hops that can produce just about any flavor imaginable.
For Booth, it turned into a business.
“I went to class, then spent a whole year brewing and experimenting with flavors and ingredients,” he said.
Then, he started Booth’s Brewing Bar Supply, at 333 Falkenburg Road N. The business draws 15 to 35 students on any given Saturday, eager to learn techniques they can take home and brew into a pale ale, dark brew or Belgian blond beer.
“Back in the late-1990s, only a select few people made craft beer,” Booth said.
Most people stuck to recipes that brewed up flavors more like Anheuser-Busch products, he said. But Booth had something else in mind.
“I wanted the equivalent of a good German beer,” he said.
But there is so much more home brewers can conjure up — from pumpkin ales to left-handed milk stout or even White House honey ale, a recipe created to mimic a craft beer enjoyed a couple of years back by President Barack Obama.
“The law says you can brew 200 gallons of beer at home per adult, per year,” said Gary Lynch, the assistant manager at Booth’s, who helps teach classes and gives customers pointers on perfecting their brews. Lynch made his first batch of beer in 1983 using a garbage can, a garden hose, screen and Fleishman’s yeast.
“I call this chocolate chip cookies for guys,” he said. “Some people like walnuts, some like pecans. Everyone wants to put their own spin on it.”
For about $200, Lynch can send a customer out the door with a setup that will enable them to produce beer.
And then there are repeat customers, like Chris Curran of Brandon, who now comes up with his own recipes, owns a freezer for his kegs and some specialty equipment that allows him to create the kinds of craft beers he loves.
“I had always had an interest in it,” Curran said.
After battling through a bout with cancer, he decided the time was right.
“I went to Booth’s, and they walked me through the entire process,” Curran said. “I started with the basic kit. If you can scramble eggs, you can make extract beer.”
These days, he’s set up to create all-grain beer, which enables him to decide on the texture, color, body and alcohol content.
“The more choices you have, the more choices you have to make,” Curran said, standing near his pool, explaining the brewing operation he has set up on the patio. “I don’t get too much into the science of it, but I like to take recipes and modify them.”
Zeke Myers, of South Tampa, on the other hand, is totally into the science of brewing. As a chemistry buff, it is one of the things that attracted him to the hobby, initially.
“My background is in chemistry, hands-on in the laboratory,” Myers said. “I bought a kit in April. Gary [Lynch] helped me pick it out. The first time I brewed a batch, I knew I wanted to do it full-time.”
Myers is preparing to open Zeke’s Brewing, a microbrewery he’s building right near Booth’s, hoping to sell four or five types of craft beer to local pubs.
“I love red ales, Belgian blonds, new pale ales and Oktoberfest lagers,” he said.
Eventually, Myers may try to market them all, but for now, he’s staying mum on which brews he plans to start out with.
“There is a confidence I have from my work in the lab,” Myers said. “It gave me the confidence to try to do this on my own.”
Myers said he hopes to begin selling in February or March.
“I think there’s a lot of room in this market for microbrews,” he said.
“Some want to know how to make beer so they can have a few on the weekends,” Lynch said. “And some want gold medals hanging on their walls.”
About 98 percent of first-time brewers are successful and anxious to try it again, Lynch said. “We’ll work anybody through the process.”
The idea of a new brewery that’s advertising home-brewed beers at its launch doesn’t really seem all that inviting. Typically, new breweries will present the credentials of their award-winning, well-schooled brewmaster–the impeccable standards of the region in which he or she studied the craft, and the breweries in which he or she has been employed previously.
So it was not without some trepidation that I attended a tasting session last week for newly-launched Liberty Village Brewing Company, which trumpeted the beers of brewmaster Eric Emery–a man whose sole official beer brewing credit was “3rd place finisher in the IPA category of the 2011 Toronto Beer Week Homebrewing contest.”
But then, after I met the company’s founders–Cassandra Campbell, Steve Combes, Kosta Viglatzis, and Emery himself–some of their clear enthusiasm for their company couldn’t help but rub off on me.
Plus, I must admit, there is some beer-nerd appeal to the idea of a savant whose homebrew is so good that others would want to launch a brewery around it–which may well be the case. I spoke to Emery about his introduction to homebrewing in Toronto and he confessed that, having moved here from BC and finding the craft beer scene lacking, he had a panic attack and thought, “Oh my god. What am I going to do?” And so he started brewing beer. When he wanted a new style of beer he couldn’t find here, he’d make one.
But the cynic in me was still willing to brush that off as deft marketing–it’s certainly an interesting narrative for the company’s origins. How, I wondered, did the beer actually taste?
As it turns out, pretty damn good.
The first beer we tried at the tasting session, held Tuesday night in the Liberty Market Building, was their “Penitent Pale Ale”–a beer which assured me that yes, Liberty Village Brewing Company was indeed the real deal. In fact, for my money, this beer would rank as highly as any other pale ale currently on the market in Ontario. It had citrusy, grapefruit notes and was assertive and hop-forward. Basically, it was a great example of the exact style of beer that’s currently doing extremely well in beer bars and LCBOs across the city and the province. But at 6%, it would also be a little easier drinking than some of the higher alcohol offerings currently on the market.
In addition to the more superficial appeal of their event–flashy glassware, thoughtful food pairings, a space donated by Lifetime Developments, and a collection of Liberty Village’s young, good-looking, professional demographic–after one drink, it was clear LVBC had done their beer homework.
And it’s also clear they plan on doing some more homework before they make any big moves. Their tasting event Tuesday was all part of a larger plan to gauge public interest before they officially launch their company. This public tasting was the first of a handful of planned outings at which they’ll actively solicit public input on their brews, with an eye to narrowing the field to one or two to brew on a larger scale once they decide on a place to contract brew their products. Eventually, once they’ve introduced their product to Liberty Village’s restaurants and bars, they’re aiming for broader expansion, an LCBO release and, ultimately, an actual space in Liberty Village where they can brew their beer, offer tastings, and let people walk out with a case of their product.
In addition to their pale ale, on Tuesday they presented a dry-hopped IPA with slightly more bitterness and piney notes; a fantastic robust porter with nutty, chocolatey characteristics; and, the surprise of the evening, an imperial amber ale. In my opinion, any of these beers would fare well if they were kegged and sold tomorrow (which is saying a great deal for a brewery’s first public outing), but the imperial amber ale was clearly the hit of the party. This subtly spicy, malty anomaly with caramel biscuit notes and a slightly bitter finish had the distinction of being unlike much else that’s currently on the Ontario market, but also proved to have enough mainstream appeal to please the frat-boy sect–some of whom were certainly in attendance Tuesday and one of whom I actually overheard say, “I usually drink lagers, but I would drink this amber. Fully.”
Fully indeed, sir.
If you want to participate in future tastings, you can get on LVBC’s mailing list and help them shape the beers they’ll eventually present to the public. While it seems a dubious feat to attempt to launch a brewery with beer brewed on home stovetops and cooled in bathtubs, if what I sampled Tuesday is indicative of the product to come, here’s hoping they pull it off.
Photos by Paul Aihoshi
Rob Croxall is a born-and-bred El Segundo man currently living what many would consider the new American dream: he ditched the corporate world and now owns a killer brewery with beers appearing on 45 beer lists full-time and 140 total restaurants and beer houses.
Ten years ago, deep into a career in the aerospace industry, he gave home brewing a shot, thanks to a friend at Boeing who passed along a kit to him. With some help from the folks at Culver City Home Brewing Supply, Rob ignited a solid hobby that, over a decade of increased practice and painstaking sampling, began to overshadow his nine to five. His first beer, named simply Blue House Pale Ale in homage to his house, attracted a huge following among his friends as it was perfected into a light entry-level craft brew.
But the pastime likely would have remained as such had it not been for a series of fortuitous developments: Croxall developed a tight relationship with Thomas Kelley, then general manager and Cicerone (beer sommelier) at Library Ale House in Santa Monica; Rob was accepted into the prestigious Professional Brewers Program at UC Davis; and he was suddenly faced with the lay offs of his staff at Northrop. He took a severance package to spare his staff, threw himself into the Davis program, and opened El Segundo Brewing Co., with Kelley as director of sales and marketing.
Croxall carved out a spot at 140 Main St. and the brewery made its first delivery in May of 2011 to Rock Brews, right across the street. He, his brother, and his father had the first three pints served, and Croxall remembers watching anxiously as people around him at the bar started to try it.
His beer was a hit. ESBC has been on a roll ever since, quickly becoming one of the most respected new craft beer producers in a quickly expanding market. Croxall was shocked by and incredibly grateful for Kelley’s ability to move the first few batches of the beer.
“But it also scared the hell out of me,” Croxall said. “Right out of the gate, we were on every A-list beer menu in town.”
All of this nervousness was for naught: El Segundo Brewing Co. has not only earned and maintained its position on these lists but also managed to double its capacity only a year in. A canning system is on the horizon, way ahead of schedule.
Kelley said that the burgeoning craft beer scene throughout LA is particularly hungry for locally made beer.
“The LA market is so ready for beer that is being made in LA,” Kelley said. “Everybody is going to give you a shot. And I already know everybody, so it’s just, ‘Hey guys, try our beer.’”
If you can’t wait a few months to bring Croxall’s beer home, ESBC opened a small tap room at the brewery in April to fill growlers for the locals and for the impressive amount of beer enthusiasts that come down from the city. The tiny but charming spot also satisfies the growing demand for an inside peek at the process (check out the events section of their website for hours: (www.elsegundobrewing.com/events.htm).
Blue House Citra Pale Ale, White Dog Wheat IPA, Two 5 Left Double IPA, and Hyperion’s Double Stout were on the tap when I stopped in last Saturday. The Citra, a double dry hopped pale, drinks like a hard-nosed IPA but comes in at an easy-drinking 5.5 % ABV. It’s a crowd favorite, for sure. I went gaga for the White Dog Wheat IPA –it has the cloudy, smooth character of a hefeweizen without the sweet, coating mouthfeel thanks to an influx of hops. (Did I mention Croxall’s love for hops? It’s borderline maniacal and right in step with the current demand for hop-heavy IPA-style brews). The humble brew master attributes his success to his small, dedicated team – Kelley is his only full-time employee – and the incredibly supportive relationships the local breweries have with one another. Joel Elliot at Strand and Henry Nguyen at Monkish Brewery, Croxall says, have been instrumental in the success of ESBC. The community of South Bay brewers knows that the better the product the local spots produce, the bigger the interest in the scene here.
“The LA beer scene is just exploding,” Croxall says.
And ESBC’s hop-centric approach promises to firmly establish itself in that scene.
“Godspeed people making crazy beers,” Kelley said. “But they are not beers selling all day long every day – hoppy beer is one of those things that at the end of the day, you just want a beer, and to me, that’s a pale ale or IPA.”
El Segundo Brewing Company, 140 Main Street, El Segundo. (310) 529-3882.
Joe Zonin: I’m one of the owners, and I started the company with Greg Shuck in 1995. The festival opened 10 or 12 years ago, and since it has started, we’ve gone to it every year.
Dive: How did the brewery’s creation come about?
JZ: We were originally home-brewing as a hobby, but then we decided that our brewing was something we could expand upon and make into a business. Greg and I spent a lot of time together in school at Cornell, and moved out to Seattle after graduation. Living in Seattle, we made the decision in 1993 to do something with our brewing. At the time, there were 10-12 breweries in Seattle and 2-3 breweries in North Carolina, and because the area was lacking them, we made the decision to start the company in Chapel Hill. Though it took us a few
years to get off the ground, we eventually got to where we are today.
Dive: What is unique about your brewing processes?
JZ: We use 100 percent malted barley for our base, while a lot of larger breweries will substitute corn and rice. We make very traditional beers, and focus solely on them as opposed to the experimentation into fruits, nuts, coffee, and chocolate beers that other companies tend to attempt. Carolina Pale Ale, Carolina Nut Brown Ale, and Wiggo are all flavors we’ve
continually produced since our home-brewing days.
Dive: What flavors are you bringing to the festival, and can you tell me about them?
JZ: Carolina Octoberfest is one of the beers we will be bringing to the festival. It’s one of our most popular seasonal beers, and it’s been the same recipe for 15 years. Carolina Pale Ale, Carolina IPA, and Carolina Nut Brown Ale are some other recipes that we’re bringing there as well.
Dive: What are your thoughts on the upcoming World Beer Festival, as a whole?
JZ: It’s a great time to meet new people, and a great time to reacquaint with old friends.
Dive: What are some of your future plans for your products?
JZ: The biggest plan for us on the near horizon is that we’ll be bottling our seasonal beers for availability in grocery stores, bars, etc. Starting with our Winter Porter, which will be available in a six-pack, it’ll be the beginning of our seasonal beers being available beyond our own facility.
For more information visit Carolina Brewing Company online.
It takes a village to raise a child, according to an African proverb.
Carter Park resident Jerrad Isch’s philosophy is that it takes a neighborhood to brew a batch of beer.
Isch’s beer-brewing equipment was gathering dust in the basement for about a decade. The discovery in spring 2011 that nearly all of his neighbors were brewers, however, revived his enthusiasm for the craft.
“I thought, why not brew together?” Isch said.
Isch resumed his brewing hobby and invited his brewing neighbors — Dylan McGee, Dutch Brooks and Craig Fitzherbert — to join him in the craft at a gathering at his house.
“I am kind of an instigator,” Isch said. “Dylan had been brewing beer (for eight years) on his own; I tend not to do it without 10 other people around.”
The gathering marked the first meeting of the 29th Street Brewers Guild, an informal gathering of Carter Park neighbors who brew beer together and swap tips, praise and critiques.
Isch knew for some time that McGee and neighbor Brooks sometimes brewed beer together the old-fashioned way, a method known as all-grain brewing, which doesn’t use extracts and takes nearly all day. But it wasn’t until spring 2011 that Isch found out another neighbor on the four corners at West 29th and Daniels streets was a brewer.
Isch was outside on 29th and noticed that the tailgate was left ajar on Fitzherbert’s parked SUV. Isch shut it, then called Fitzherbert to let him know. During the conversation, Fitzherbert revealed he also was a brewer.
Isch started to count. There were at least four brewers who lived in houses around the intersection.
“Jerrad decided to have a gathering,” Fitzherbert said. “We were kind of doing our own thing, bringing beer to each other. Then, we decided, ‘Let’s get together and brew together.’ It’s good community-building; it brings the neighborhood together.”
Since then, Isch’s brewing equipment is back in working condition. He’s planted hops in his backyard. He even won a third-place award in a brewing contest held by the Timbers Army, a fan club of the Portland soccer team.
Isch said the social aspect of the 29th Street Brewers Guild fueled his enthusiasm for brewing, Without it, that brewing equipment might still be in the basement.
“I love gathering people, connecting neighbors together,” Isch said.
That enthusiasm was contagious. A fifth neighbor at the four corners — Gary Kokstis — recently retired from a career at Nike and decided to take up brewing. He took a brewing class in August at Vancouver’s Bader Beer Wine Supply.
He said he’s also learned a lot from his neighbors. Many of the gatherings are spontaneous, and other neighbors who join in to taste the beer also get to know each other better, said neighbor Angie Russell.
“One of us will have a brew idea, and one of us will call and see if we want to get together,” McGee said.
At a guild gathering Sept. 17 in Kokstis’ backyard garden, Fitzherbert brought an idea for an Earl Grey IPA. Meanwhile, Isch decided to craft a traditional American pale ale with an infusion of peach blossom honey. Both Fitzherbert and Isch prefer extract brewing, which is quicker than all-grain. But they opt to bottle their beer, while McGee and Brooks store their beer in kegs.
“I’ve been impressed with Craig’s tea infusions,” Isch said.
Fitzherbert also has made a pale ale infused with Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea and a black IPA with Tahitian vanilla.
“It’s like cooking,” Fitzherbert said. “You just find something. If you want to try it, you try it. It’s usually drinkable.”
The brewers whipped up their concoctions on two propane grills in Kokstis’s backyard garden.
“We’re missing an important part; we’re not drinking beer,” Kokstit said, heading for some coolers.
He presented a bottle of one of Fitzherbert’s brews to the brewers and some of their friends and spouses. Fitzherbert called the beer Silenus after the Greek god of drunkenness; alcohol content: a wee bit. That’s a running joke among the guild.
“You can come up with something you like, which isn’t always the case with things you buy,” Kokstis said.
Once Kokstis brews his first batch of beer, the four corners will be a perfect square of beer brewers.
“He better make a lot; he owes you a lot of beer,” quipped Kokstis’ wife, Katlin Smith.
This past Saturday I attended the home-brew competition at the 8th Street Jazz Festival in Downtown Lebanon.
The weather was perfect, there was live jazz music in the background, and there was cold beer in my glass.
You can’t ask for much else.
While billed as a competition, there was plenty of beer available for those not actually involved in the competition … like me.
Two local home-brewers dolled out samples of their beers; a representative from Troegs also gave out samples of a few of the Hershey brewery’s beers; and there were cold beers on tap for purchase, including a Troegs Oktoberfest beer from their scratch-beer series.
Oh yeah, there was wine too, but we’ll not get into that.
This was the second year for the competition. In all, 17 beers were submitted for judging from five different brewers.
“They are all quality beers,” said Cheryl Umberger, owner of Wet Your Whistle Beverage in Lebanon and one of the event’s organizers. “There’s a lot of different beers. We had a pumpkin, we had a wheat, we had porters, we had stouts. They’re all very drinkable beers.”
The beers were judged in four categories: light, medium, dark and specialty. There was also a best-in-show award and a people’s-choice award.
Snitz Creek Brewery’s Opening Day IPA won the best-in-show and people’s-choice awards. Two Hoppy Campers’ Pilsner took second place for best in show.
Snitz Creek’s proprietors, Adam Szajda (pronounced Shyda) and Patrick Freer were on-hand with samples of some of their beers. In addition to Opening Day, they also had Springhouse Lager, Apple Wheat, Dry Fly Pale Ale and Brown Trout Stout.
I particularly enjoyed the Springhouse Lager and Apple Wheat.
Szajda and Freer have been brewing for about four years and do the majority of their brewing in a barn behind Szajda’s West Cornwall Township home.
“It started out as a Christmas idea, a brewing kit,” Szajda said. “Once you get started, either you like it or you don’t like it, and we got hooked, so we started making more and more.”
Szajda’s home sits along the Snitz Creek, hence the name. Most of their beers also have names relating to the creek or fishing.
Springhouse Lager gets its name from the springhouse on Szajda’s property in which they ferment it.
“To ferment a lager, you need cooler temperatures,” he explained. “We got a springhouse on our property so we just put the whole carboy under water, and it maintains a year-round 52-degree temperature. It’s like a free fridge.”
Although they didn’t enter the competition, Glenn Rambler and Andrew Miller, the proprietors of Speakeasy Craft Brew, were also on hand giving out samples of one of their beers, St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, a Belgian strong ale.
I enjoyed my sample, but, as the name implies, it was pretty strong.
Rambler and Miller have been brewing for about three years, after talking about it for several years. They do most of their brewing at Miller’s South Lebanon Township home.
“Our wives told us that we needed to find a hobby,” Rambler said. “We kind of looked at each other and jokingly said we can’t see ourselves making sock puppets or collecting coins, so we looked at them and said, ‘How about if we make beer?’ They just wrinkled their faces, and here we are.”
Speakeasy makes 11 beers on a regular basis. You can learn more about the beers on Speakeasy’s website. Like the brewery itself, most of the beers’ names have some sort of Prohibition-era theme.
“When we looked into doing this, going legal, we found that Pennsylvania is not always that receptive for home-brewers or micro-brewers,” Rambler said. “We decided to kind of stay under the radar and kind of do it in fun for our friends, let our friends give us donations for drinking the beer. That’s how we came up with the name Speakeasy, because that’s how it was done during Prohibition.”
Overall, the event was successful, Umberger said. And, she said, she is hoping it gets even bigger in the future.
“We’re hoping that next year we’ll be able to draw some people from other counties,” she said. “We had more enter this year than we did last year, so we’re going to continue to build.”
Umberger, whose business recently began selling home-brewing supplies, said home brewing is becoming very popular.
“It’s huge! It’s huge!” she said. “We just started carrying supplies in April, and I thought we’d start off slow. I’ve been running non-stop because you have to learn about all the grains and the hops and the yeast, and there’s more and more and more people doing it.”
In fact, Umberger said she just finished brewing her first beer the day before the competition.
“It’s really a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun once you get involved in it. People are surprised, even with their very first beer. If you can make cookies, you can make beer.”
Szajda agreed that the home-brewing scene has gotten big in the last couple years.
“A lot of people have been getting into it,” he said. “Now in Lebanon we have our own home-brew shop, which is fantastic. You don’t have to drive to Harrisburg or Lancaster to get the supplies that you need.”
Rambler also agreed that interest in home brewing is taking off. In fact, he said, he and Miller have converted some of their friends from domestic light-beer drinkers into craft-beer drinkers.
“Since we’ve been doing this, we turned a number of our friends on to trying different beers,” he said. “The biggest pleasure we get is having someone tell us, ‘Normally, I don’t like X kind of beer,’ and they drink it and they say, ‘Oh my god, I do like this.’”
Holiday sales were taking off at the Boulevard Brewing Co. gift store in 2011 and the Country Club Plaza came calling, proposing a pop-up store for the season. /ppBut as with Boulevard beers the best ideas take time to ferment. /ppSo instead of just filling up a retail space, Boulevard asked for another year to gear up and source out some additional products – beyond those they were already selling, but still the same high-quality that would reflect their brand. /ppNow the new Boulevard Dry Goods Store is nearly full for its scheduled soft opening Wednesday at 4703 Broadway. The store, right across from the Apple Store, will operate through at least mid-January 2013. /ppOur gift shop killed last year leading up to the holidays, said Steve Mills, chief operating officer of Boulevard Brewing Co. But this is more of a destination. (Consumers) are more likely to be on the Plaza shopping anyway. It will be more accessible./ppBoulevard-themed items include Patagonia fleece vests and pullovers, Tank 7 bracelets, tasting glasses, Spiegelau beer glasses, sweaters for beer bottles, bottle openers, hefty coffee mugs, kitchen towels, jars of Boulevards Pale Ale Mustard, rows of caps and more. But no Boulevards beer. The company didnt want to compete with the Plaza restaurants and bars selling its beers./ppKansas City companies also provided some custom Boulevard pieces: jewelry from Scarlett Garnet, screen printed T-shirts from Kansas Citys Bandwagon Merchandise, and postcards, art prints and coasters from Hammerpress. The shop also will soon carry some products from Baldwin Denim./ppWe wanted to co-brand with the highest quality businesses that put out a fantastic product, Mills said./ppIf the pop-up store is successful, Boulevard will consider opening another seasonal store next year, either on the Plaza or at another area mall, but just one. It is, after all, in the beer brewing business not specialty retail./ppIf you really like our beer or like things that are locally made or just like quality things, we will have something for you, Mills said./ppspan class=”subhead”Anticipation/span/ppThe countdown is on for the metros first Ross Dress for Less stores./ppThe Pleasanton, Calif.-based chain said it will open stores on Oct. 6 in Adams Dairy Landing, 1320 N.E. Coronado Drive, Blue Springs, and Independence Commons, 18910 E. 36th St. South, Independence./ppRoss also has confirmed a lease for an Olathe store but has not confirmed an address. However, some area real estate sources say the company will open a store at 119th Street and Strang Line Road. /ppRoss offers first-quality in-season, name brand and designer apparel, accessories, and footwear for the entire family, along with home fashions. It says its customers save 20 to 60 percent off department and specialty store regular prices./ppspan class=”subhead”Quick bites/span/ppbull;nbsp; Kellys Westport Inn, 500 Westport Road, is winterizing its rooftop deck for the season. A large skylight and an extended awning system will make the entire deck available during the colder months. Work should be completed by early October. /ppbull;nbsp; Waldos longtime Dairy Queen, a franchisee-owned location at 434 W. 85th St., has closed. The Dairy Queen location first shows up in city directories in the mid-1970s.
The owners of Triple C Brewing Co. promoted the company even before it opened at the Queen City Brewers Festival in NoDa.
Associate Editor/Online- Charlotte Business Journal
Former bankers Chris Murphy and Chris Harper opened Charlotte’s newest brewery this week in South End, News14 Carolina reports.
Along with Murphy’s wife, Christina, the pair formed Triple C Brewery Co. in October after home-brewing beers as a hobby. The brewery and taproom at 2900 Griffith St. is now offering its Light Rail Pale Ale, Smoked Amber, Greenway IPA and Baby Maker: Double IPA.
A grand-opening event is planned for Saturday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Jen Wilson coordinates the Charlotte Business Journal’s online operations, chronicles local events for CBJ Seen and takes photographs.
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