BOLIVAR, Ohio - Lockport Brewery opened on one of the year's busiest shopping days, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. After a while, shoppers eventually head home and the buying frenzy ebbs.Lockport Brewery
Beer sales at Lockport, however, have not receded.
Lockport just passed its three-month mark and is going strong as the only brewery in Tuscarawas County. And on that opening day, apparently not everyone in Northeast Ohio was out shopping for holiday deals.
"We haven't matched that day since," brewer Andrew Marburger said. "We came close last Saturday (Feb. 18), but we haven't matched it. By noon, half the bar was full. We didn't sit down till after midnight."
"We're selling beer as fast as we can make it," he said.
First brewery in Tuscarawas County in more than 65 years.
Address: 10891 Ohio 212, Bolivar.
Getting there: It's 72 miles from downtown Cleveland, a straight shot down Interstate 77. Get off at Ohio 212 and head east for about a mile. The brewery is on your left. (It's 2 miles south of the Tuscarawas County sign on I-77.)
Hours: Closed Monday-Tuesday; 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; noon-midnight Friday-Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday.
Contact: lockportbeer.com, 330-874-6037.
Food: Small kitchen offers paninis and munchies.
Parking: Lot adjacent to the brewery.
The space once held an optometry office, beauty salon and marketing agency. Marburger gutted the walls with his wife and father-in-law, his vision of a brewery taking shape.
"We wanted it down to the bare bones," he said. And within those bones they
built a brewery based on two key components, he said: Quality and community.
Things are going so well, that when Marburger approached his financially-minded father-in-law about the possibility of buying additional fermenters before the brewery even passed its three-month mark, he found a surprising answer. His father-in-law, who he said usually takes a more cautious, conservative approach to growth, offered a quick reply: "Buy it now."
Marburger, 31, worked in human resources and safety compliance but was itching to work with his hands. About three years ago, he "pulled the trigger on full-time brewing." He worked for Millersburg Brewing Co. before venturing out on his own.
"For years a brewery was a pie-in-the-sky idea," he said. "It's cool to see it come to fruition."
Brewing grew out of a love of cooking with his wife.
"It's a confluence of those things," he said about enjoying flavors. So he made a couple batches of beer, and "they were bad."
"It made me motivated to get better," he said. And he did.
The growth of craft breweries in Ohio remains on a continued uptick, and it's not just urban areas. Craft breweries seem to be replacing the corner bar of generations past.
"If we can serve our communities we would have met our goal," said Marburger, who is from the county. "Owning your own backyard thing is cool."
The original business plan was to sell beer at the bar and have limited distribution, Marburger said. The distribution hasn't been realized, but that's OK since demand has been very good. So good, in fact, he just ordered those additional fermenters.
"We're selling everything we can make over the bar, and we're selling out," he said.
Lockport's new brewhouse equipment comes from Portland Kettle Works, and four seven-barrel fermenters come from Enegren Brewing Co. in Moorpark, California.
Interestingly, each of the four fermenters has a name attached - Heidi, Anita, Resi and Susanna. The names are found in traditional German Oktoberfest songs, Marburger said. But when the new ones come in, they will be tabbed MaryBeth and Kathleen, Marburger's mother and mother-in-law, respectively.
Flights are four for $7. Most pints range from $4.25 to $5.50, and most 4-ounce samples are $1.50. A double IPA is in the works.
* Gateway XPA: Extra Pale Ale - actually a Cream Ale - is the flagship. Similar to a smooth flavorful pilsner. This is the gateway beer to help educate folks who might be learning about craft beer. Cream Ale is rare as a flagship, though at least one other Ohio brewery - Warped Wing in Dayton - has a flagship Cream Ale. Info: 6.2 percent, 12 IBUs.
* Hefeweizen: With classic banana and spice in the nose. Info: 5 percent, 11 IBUs.
* Fort Laurens Amber: Named after Ohio's only Revolutionary War fort, its history museum is in Bolivar. Also Marburger's wife's name. Info: 6.5 percent, 35 IBUs.
* Uncle Drew's SMaSH Brew: An-all local ale with hops from Wadsworth and malts from Cleveland. Info: 6 percent, 44 IBUs.
* Ruckus India Pale Ale: Nice pine flavors without being harsh, made with Mosaic, Centennial, Columbus and Citra hops. ("When it comes to IPAs, I prefer juice bombs, but I wanted something balanced," he says.) Info: 7.5 percent, 68 IBUs.
* The Lockporter: Billed as having coffee and chocolate notes. Info: 6.2 percent, 33 IBUs.
* Big Debbie Stout: Chocolate flavors, a bit of roastiness and slight sweetness all mesh nicely. Served in a snifter. Info: 8.5 percent, 30 IBUs.
Six-pack of facts about Lockport Brewery
* The space is 3,500 square feet - "cozy," Marburger says, but the patio will add 50 percent more room. There is one large-screen television and one projector screen.
* A mug club is available. Patrons can drink out of a 21-ounce mug and pay for a pint, get $1 off growlers and a free birthday beer. Annual cost is $50. There are 100 spaces.
* The brewery keeps an extensive collection of vinyl albums.
* A table indoors has an artistic array of graffiti scrawls and portraits. "We toss 'em Sharpies," Marburger says, and customers' inner Picassos come out.
* For food, eight paninis (Cubano, Reuben, roast beef, others) and assorted munchies are offered.
* Wine and mixed drinks are coming down the road.
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