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As published in Toledo Business Journal - July 1, 2017

 

The Lab brewery planned for Tiffin

Laird Aracade building in Tiffin

The Lab, a brewery and taproom planned for downtown Tiffin, is being developed inside the Laird Arcade building by three local partners who came together to support their community.

Part-owner Eric Kuebler said he hopes to have the 1,200 square foot space open by August. Andy Flechtner, the brewery engineer, is currently working on fixing up the space alongside an interior designer. Part-owner Rob Weaver has been brewing in his home for 20 years, while Kuebler and Flechtner have been brewing together for 10.

“All three owners are from Tiffin,” said Kuebler. “There’s a revitalization going on downtown in Tiffin right now that we are very excited about being a part of as a way for us to give back to our community, and give a sense of a beer identity, so to speak, to Tiffin. We have a lot of local pride, and our focus is on local business and procuring local ingredients.”

“Breweries are being added to a lot of communities, and contribute to the livelihood and revitalization of downtown areas,” Weaver said. “Downtown revitalization is already going on in Tiffin and we’d really like to be a part of it.”

Logo for the Lab Brewery

“Tiffin has a long and interesting history of breweries like this run by local entrepreneurs,” said Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz. “This is an exciting venture, and we’ll give them all the support we can.”

Tiffin’s Zoning Board granted the brewery zoning classification in January, pending approval by the planning commission and Tiffin City Council. According to Senecca Success, the next major steps will be filing a federal brewer’s notice, a process that takes six to eight months, and obtaining a State liquor license.

“As far as what work needs to be done, it’s mostly cosmetic – just getting it designed up as far as the taproom is concerned,” said Kuebler. “We’ll have to add a bar and tables. Back behind where the brewing is actually taking place, we’ll need fermenters and a brew-house, and kegs, and a CO2 line to run all of that. The site that we’re at was an old Iron Gate, and then a Little Athens, so it was a restaurant and we’re repurposing it as a brewery. It was pretty much gutted when we got the place.

“There’s a malt house getting ready to open up just outside of Tiffin, which we’ve already had meetings with them,” he continued. “It’s actually pretty exciting. We’d potentially be able to have an all-Tiffin beer if we got the grains and the hops from them. We just went to a conference not too long ago and everyone was excited about an all-Ohio beer for the first time. So we were actually just making it even smaller and trying to shoot for that all-Tiffin beer instead, which is something that’s kind of cool. The money we’re spending on ingredients is staying within the community, instead of buying it from somewhere out in Oregon or something, and having it shipped in.”

According to Kuebler, the taproom will offer 10 varieties of beer, including five year-round selections and five that change seasonally and experimentally.

“That is our goal to start with,” he said. “We want to try and have something for everyone, so of the five year-rounds, I imagine we will have something along the lines of a Berliner Weisse or a Hefeweizen, something on the lighter end, and then work our way into a Scotch Ale, a red ale, a porter/stout, IPA, so just something that kind of spans the spectrums.”

Half-gallon growlers will be sold and filled, and there are plans to make kegs available to select Seneca County bars and restaurants. The Lab also plans to offer locally produced snacks, but leave heavier fare to local restaurants.

“We plan on working with the local eateries,” said Kuebler. “They’re part of our business plan, and part of our mission statement is to be as local as possible, so we want to work with the local eateries that are already in Tiffin and utilize them. We’ve got Put-N-Pita right there in the Laird building, we’ve also got Reino’s pizzeria. We’ve got a couple of other eateries that we’ve discussed bringing in once a week or once a month, where we feature their food. We do want to have some local snacks. We’ve got Ballreich’s Potato Chips, obviously. There’s a salsa company that we’ve met with out of Tiffin, so we’re exploring all of our options, but we do not plan on making our own food.

“This is a cooperative venture with our neighbors, at the Laird and in the surrounding community,” he added. “This will benefit them as much as it benefits us.”

Kuebler and his partners are partially financing the operation themselves, and taking out a loan for the remainder. They also plan to hire one or two more bartenders, and one or two assistant brewers to start with.

“We don’t want to overstretch our expectations,” said Kuebler. “We’re trying to be as modest as we can with our expectations to start with. I have had bar and restaurant experience when I was in college. I worked at a bar at a restaurant for about seven years or so, and I bartended periodically throughout after that. Rob’s been brewing in his house for 20 years, we’ve been brewing in my basement for 10 years, so it’s just a progression into the next level at this point for us.”

According to The Brewers Association, Ohio is one of the leading states for craft beer, ranking fourth in barrels produced annually (1.4 million) made by 143 craft breweries statewide.