Tomorrow is Eric Anderson’s last day as lead brewer for the Tremont Tap House
and Butcher and the Brewer
family. After two years in that post, he is leaving to pursue a business of his own.
“It’s exciting; every brewer wants to own their own brewery,” he says.
That brewery is called Saucy Brew Works, and it has quietly been taking shape for a year. Anderson’s partner in the project, Brent Zimmerman, recently purchased the Steelman Building in Ohio City's Hingetown neighborhood, a 14,000-square-foot space at Detroit Avenue and W. 29th Street that will become a fun, casual brewery and pizza concept.
“It’s actually my concept,” notes Anderson. “The concept is not new by any means, but it is unique to Cleveland. It’s a self-serve brewery and pizza place.”
By self-serve, Anderson means that customers will place their orders for beer and food up at the counter and grab seats in the open, industrial space. Based on the popular West Coast chain Pizza Port, the concept employs pizza ovens with baking stone conveyor belts that bake pies in less than two minutes.
“They will be New Haven-style: medium-thin crust with lots of sauce and toppings,” says Anderson.
The name obviously refers to pizza sauce, but it also is a reference to Anderson’s at-times unconventional brewing practices. This is the man, after all, who concocted a white stout called Albino.
“It’s a double entendre,” he says. “Pizza is saucy, but it also refers to the way I approach beer with a little irreverence.”
Anderson’s brewery is in production now and is scheduled to arrive onsite in November, with brewing to follow in early 2017.
“It’s a little bit bigger than what I use at Butcher. It’s a 20-hectoliter, or just over 17 barrels. But what’s cool about it is it’s the Rolls Royce of brewhouses. You can control it from your iPad. It’s a fully automated four-vessel system that takes out a lot of human error. We can start small and scale up from pub-size to production-size as we want to.”
The plan in year one, he adds, “is to set the roots and get the sour beer barrel program rolling because it takes 12 months of aging. Year two we plan on doubling production until we’re nearing 30,000 barrels.”
In addition to the sours, and a full slate of classic styles, Anderson will push the boundaries when it comes to experimental beers and hybrids that straddle the line between beer and wine. He's a graduate of the Master Brewing Program at the Siebel Institute of Technology, the nation's oldest brewing school.
“I’ll use my microbiology background to make some mixed-yeast fermentations to create some new flavor profiles that just don’t exist with standard off-the-shelf yeasts,” he explains.
As for the space, the partners could not have found a building more conducive to lugging around heavy brewing equipment.
“The building is a former machine shop, so there are working cranes that run the full length of the building and boom cranes that come off the walls that will hold our TVs and beer lists,” he says. “We have built-in rigging.”
When the dust finally settles, the space will have an open, industrial feel softened with wood and texture. The entire west-facing wall will be replaced with glass and large garage doors that open up to the sun and a roomy patio. Solar panels on the roof will power much of the operation, while 44 on-site parking spots will provide easy access for visitors. Occupancy figures are in the 120-plus range, says Anderson.
Look for an early 2017 opening.