An interview with the crew behind the new Lewis Center brewery
With the continued growth of Central Ohio's brewing scene, the real standout breweries are the ones with broad appeal but a local focus. The neighborhood brewery becomes a draw, a point of pride, something to be celebrated by locals — think Lineage in Clintonville, Ill Mannered in Powell, Loose Rail in Canal Winchester. This year, Lewis Center will get a brewery to call its own: Olentangy River Brewing Company.
The new brewery is owned by a partnership of three couples: Jed and Darci Henry, Scott and Bethany Schweitzer, and Ryan and Sarah Wilkins.
“We live up in the Lewis Center area and thought, ‘Why is there nothing like a cool brewery here?'” said Ryan Wilkins, “and so we started daydreaming and thought, ‘Why don't we start one?'
“I woke up the next morning and got back to my normal life, but then a few days later I got a phone call from Scott, who said, ‘I wrote a business plan.'”
The issue facing the owners was that none of them brew beer. Fortunately, through a variety of connections, they found themselves with not one but two brewers: Josh Vogel and Enrique Iglesias, who goes by Quique. The two brewers met through common friends. Iglesias hails from Puerto Rico, where he headed up one of the country's first craft breweries. He moved to Powell when his wife, an executive in the health-care field, transferred to Central Ohio.
The owners asked each of the brewers to craft three beers, and then reached out to friends interested in investing to sample the brews. “That night we sold all of our shares,” Wilkins says, “We raised all the money we hoped to raise.”
Last week, the brewery announced its location: the former digs of a home-renovation company at 303 Green Meadows Dr. S. “It's a quirky building that wasn't made to be a brewery but felt perfect for us,” Wilkins said.
The building will house the taproom and production facility. The 10-barrel brewing system will arrive in a couple months. Wilkins said the brewery plans to host food trucks and will open a full-service coffee shop, too. “We benefit from being at the crossroads of Powell Road and Route 23,” he said, “accessible to the hyper-local community and easy to get to for anyone in Central Ohio.”
The brewery will also benefit from close proximity to Highbanks Metro Park and the Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center.
For now, the brewer is testing recipes and gathering feedback. Wilkins said the brewmasters don't plan to focus on any one particular style. “Our goal is to attract everyone from real beer aficionados to folks who have never had a craft beer,” he said.
Above all, the team is excited to bring Lewis Center its first brewery. “We feel like this community will be excited to have something local and unique they could call their own,” Wilkins said.