The make-your-own-beer business has been a mostly West Side affair, with Strongsville's Brew Kettle serving as the go-to spot for concocting several dozen bottles of your favorite barley-based drink.
Cleveland Heights neighbors Brian Benchek and Dave Schubert are hoping their new place on Lee Road will attract East Side beer lovers who want to give self-brewing a try, but may not be as eager to make a crosstown trek to do so.
"We thought, If we don't do this, someone else will," says Schubert, who opened The BottleHouse Brewery with Benchek in May. The spot currently serves a rotating list of local and regional beers at its bar, while the on-premise brewing portion of the operation begins in August. When it does, plans are to offer approximately 50 recipes, including IPAs, wheat beers, porters and stouts. Benchek says he and Schubert will regularly expand the list, adding recipes that mimic a wide range of favorites.
"Any beer you like, there will be an equivalent," he says.
Making the beer is a three-hour process of collecting ingredients and following instructions. Brewery employees are on hand to answer questions, and depending upon the type of beer, a 72-count batch of 22-ounce bottles runs between $150 and $220.
The BottleHouse's official grand opening later this month will mark the culmination of Benchek and Schubert's 18-month effort to convert the former Zagara's Marketplace cold-storage facility into not just a do-it-yourself brewery, but a place to hang out. The 2,400-square-foot front room gives off a communal feel. Large picnic tables, board-game nights and live music throughout the week should all keep patrons from noticing there isn't a single television in the joint.
"It's more like a coffeehouse," Schubert says. "Nothing scary or threatening. Nothing you wouldn't want to expose your young children to."