Checkin' in with Wadsworth Brewing Company (Ernie Joy and Ericha Fryfogle-Joy)
Wadsworth is not usually a hot Ohio destination, but owners Ernie and Ericha are working to change that. Their downtown location has a great patio space and friendly feel in which to enjoy their awesome beers. If you follow their Facebook feed, you will discover Star Wars references aplenty and some pretty great product shots. I got to speak to Ernie a few weeks ago on how WBC came to be and what's coming up for them!
Fermenting Ohio: How did you come to open a brewery in Wadsworth, Ohio?
Ernie Joy: We’ve been brewing at home for over 10 years and just really enjoyed the process. We’ve been going to the area wineries for some time, and I kept asking “why isn’t there places out here for beer too?” As a few other breweries started popping up in the area, we got excited and started talking about opening our own. We got to the point where we’d been in the area for 18 years, our son is mostly through college, and we said can we do this here in town? We started running costs, talking to other brewers, and just kinda made it happen. I was mostly self-taught and just tried to talk to as many people as we could when we were planning this out. The folks at Grape and Granary were very helpful with questions and were a really great resource.
FO: What was this space before you made a brewery here?
EJ: It was occupied by another business that has ended up just down the road – they actually had a fire here 2 years ago. The brick in here had been plastered over for years, so that all came out as it was being renovated. We rolled into this space and saw the potential, it had a really good shell to work with and shape how we wanted. This back door and window back here had been uncovered after the fire, the previous business walled them in for 35 years so there are some neat features around the brewery like that, and our bar top is made out of the wooden slats removed from the Isham gymnasium.
FO: What size brewing system do you use?
EJ: We are a two-barrel brewery here. I’m fine staying at this level with the size of our taproom, I’m comfortable with this. We’re brewing about two days a week with double batches on brew days. We have 12 beers on tap which is the capacity of our draft system.
FO: How do you come up with your beer recipes?
EJ: The public really lets us know what they want. We’re really down for anything (except sours at the moment) - we try to have a variety. IPAs, something dark, accessible beers for the people drug here by their craft beer friends. I brew our double IPA every two weeks because I need to, and because I like to drink it. I like IPAs because there’s so many different kinds of hops and combinations you can do with that style. That part’s been fun. We’ve had five different IPAs here and are continuing to experiment with it. And by experiment, we mean just go ahead and brew a full two-barrel batch. Our IPA and Saison were first tried here on the big system. We just don’t have time to do smaller experiments, but so far it’s been working out. For ingredients, my preference depends on the beer I’m brewing, I like playing around a little bit. I used oats in our new IPA to give some more body and it worked well. I’m trying to read on what I can expect from certain hops, it’s a bit easier at this size system rather than something larger since I only need to buy a few pounds of hops and see what happens.
FO: What are your best sellers?
EJ: Best sellers are the IPA and our Thelma Lou Blonde Ale, one being the hoppiest and the other the most approachable beer we have, so opposites really!
FO: What was the most challenging part of opening a brewery?
EJ: Probably all the waiting. There weren’t any huge roadblocks, just a one or two-week delay added to another and things took a bit longer than we had hoped. It took almost two years for us to go from “let’s go” to actually opening. But overall we’ve been well received. What we’re finding is that a lot of people are making their first trips to Wadsworth for this. We’re even finding people that live here have never really had a reason to come downtown. We’re happy to be part of the revitalization downtown so that we won’t be just a strip mall town with big stores.
FO: What do you have coming up over the next few months?
EJ: We have a light food menu in the works, we have most of our kitchen equipment placed and we’re waiting on the utilities to be run for it. We’ll be doing a blueberry ale to be ready for a late June timeframe and my wife wants to do an ice-cream float type beer. We also opened our seating out into the sidewalk area, so there’s a nice patio space for the warmer weather.
A big thank you to Ericha for coordinating with me, and to Ernie and Liam for speaking with me at the brewery. Looking forward to stopping by again this summer!