The Granville Brewing Co. perfectly encapsulates the growing nano-brewery trend in the craft brewing industry. It’s a brewery built out of passion for brewing by Ross Kirk and Jay Parsons, who have transformed an old horse barn on Kirk’s property into a small 1 barrel brewery. Based in the small Ohio village of Granville — with a population of just 5,662 — Kirk and Parsons hope to fulfill the growing demand of local beer brewed in the community’s own backyard.
“I think there’s a desire for that little local brewery,” said Kirk, co-owner and brewer, as the brewery prepared for the unveiling of its three beers — The Betrayer, a Tripel; The Reaper, a Saison; and The Oppressor, a Belgian-style Amber — at a local fundraiser event on Feb. 2. “People are craving that ‘I can have it and you can’t because it’s right here in my backyard’ kind of thing. We’re as ultra local as you can get. I can look at people and tell them, ‘I made that beer.’”
Kirk started homebrewing about six years ago and has been working to make the Granville Brewing Co. dream a reality for the past two. As a biology major in college and current heavy highway construction estimator, Kirk still explains the brewing process with a sense of bioengineering wonder.
“The whole yeast aspect is exciting. It still fascinates me when the batch is actively fermenting to see the bubbles and everything,” he said. “I love the whole process. The engineering and building of the brewery I like a lot as well. At the end of the day, it’s the beer. I love all kinds of different beers.”
Right now, Kirk’s favorite beer to brew is Granville Brewing’s Saison. The yeast they use is “quirkier” than the other beers, and the spices that are added at the end of the boil fill the brew house with a welcoming smell. “It seems like it has its own personality. It needs to be babied a little more than the other beers we brew. Right now, it’s my favorite to drink as well,” he said.“Brew a lot. It’s hard work. It’s fun. It’s rewarding, but it’s hard work. It’s a lot of cleaning, and you have to make sure you really like to do it. When you’re homebrewing, you do it every third weekend and you get together and have some beers, but there is a lot of paperwork involved and a lot of work to do when you go into business. But if you can make a good beer, I think there’s room in the market for all of them.”
Granville plans to focus on Belgian-style beers. Kirk and Parsons have had great response to their beers with many non-craft beer drinkers enjoying their new craft offering. Kirk explained that while the word “Belgians” might conjure ideas of big, sour beers, Granville Brewing’s recipes add a depth of flavor for the advanced palate.
It’s been a long road for the Granville Brewing Co. The business is a part-time venture for both partners, and it’s one they are doing all themselves. The biggest hurdle the company had faced this far was waiting on licensing. While the state licensing process was a breeze, the federal license took a while — Kirk and Parsons filed in May 2012 and finally received their license at the end of September 2012.
“I think with the boom in the industry right now, the federal agencies haven’t increased their staff to meet the demand, and I think things are getting backed up,” Kirk explained. “We also did it all on our own. We didn’t hire an attorney and it wasn’t something we were pounding away on. We weren’t paying rent on a building or anything like that.”
With the recent debut of the brewery’s beers, Kirk and Parsons are already planning the next big step for the brewery — getting a tasting room open. After that, Granville Brewing Co. is only limited by brewing time and demand.
“We’d like to get our tasting room open sometime this summer. Beyond that, the way this industry is booming, it’s kind of a wait and see what happens,” Kirk said. “If we can find a niche, brew, keep it fun and make a little money then great. But if things take off, we’ve already established our business plan. We have the financing in place to cover the next step. I’d say we’ll brew on this system for at least a year and focus on Granville, Newark and a few select places in Columbus. If people are seeking us out, and we can’t keep up, I’d say that warrants an expansion.”