Since opening three years ago in Cleveland Heights, BottleHouse Brewery (2050 Lee Rd., 216-214-2120) has continued to improve, grow and expand its offerings. Late last year, the brewery swapped out its makeshift 2.5-barrel system for an efficient 7-barrel system, while adding new fermenters, bright tanks, glycol chillers, keg washers… “The whole nine yards,” says owner Brian Benchek.
And it’s a good thing they did as plans for a second location, this one across town in Lakewood, will have them brewing up a storm to keep up with increased demand. That second location, in the former home of Sullivan’s Irish Pub (13368 Madison Ave.), will allow Benchak and assistant brewer Jason Kallicragas to expand their product line even more.
“Brian and I really want to do a lot more sour beers,” Kallicragas says. “In this facility there’s just no way to make that a priority; it’s just too risky.”
That risk, of course, is of cross-contamination between the sour beers and the others. Sour beers are inoculated with wild yeasts and bacteria that can easily infect other beers in proximity if you’re not extremely cautious.
“We started carefully here, with everything contained in barrels,” Kallicragas says of those sours that he and Benchek already have produced.
The Lakewood BottleHouse will have a 24-tap taproom that will sell eight sours, eight meads, and eight other brews culled from the BottleHouse portfolio. More importantly, the building has plenty of room to store and age the large wooden barrels required to make sours. Depending on the style – fruity and funky to tart and puckery – the beers need anywhere from three months to two years on wood before they are ready to drink.
BottleHouse was the city’s first official meadery, crafting and selling a lineup of various mead styles and flavors. Ohio Gold, made from local honey and apples, and City Mead, a light, sparkling beverage, both will be tap regulars in Lakewood.
Since closing three years ago, the Sullivan’s space has been home to a few short-lived concepts, the latest being Saloon on Madison. Both the space and the neighborhood immediately appealed to the BottleHouse guys.
“That area really reminds me of Lee Road [in Cleveland Heights], surrounded by homes,” says Kallicragas. “And we’ll be going for the same community-based feel.”
That means come late winter when it opens, Lakewood residents can look forward to roomy communal tables, chalkboard menus, art-glass chandeliers and zero televisions.
While the new Lakewood spot will be used for storage, aging and serving, Cleveland Heights will continue to serve as the production facility. By freeing up a lot of space currently used for storage and aging, Bottlehouse will be able to expand its roster of beers, says Kallicragas.
“We really like to do the barrel-aged stuff, and once we move out the sours, we’ll really be able to do more of it here.”
The team already is in possession of 20 bourbon and rye barrels, to be used for brews like bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout and honey brown ale.