Friday, April 10, 2015

Glasshouse Brewing to Open on Ann Arbor's West Side Later This Year

Founder and brewer Brent Payeur stands in front of the building at 2350 W. Liberty St. that will house Glasshouse Brewing Co., scheduled to open this summer.

It started with Short's Pandemonium Pale Ale.

That was the "A-ha!" brew that introduced Brent Payeur to the world of craft beer. Seven years later, his relentless explorations of that world have him poised to take the ultimate plunge: opening his own brewery.

After long delays, construction is set to begin next week on Glasshouse Brewing Co., and Payeur couldn't be happier to finally begin making his dream a reality.

"We got our microbrewery license cleared by the feds over a year ago, but the city has been harder," says Payeur. "They had a problem with classifying our building and the number of parking spots and so on, but we have our building permit now and we're good to go."

The brewery will be situated in an unusual spot: the 1,600 square feet in the back end of the same building that houses Diamond Glass & Feiner's, a glass window and door company founded in 1884 and now owned by Payeur's father.

"My dad bought the business in 1982, and I grew up working here," said Payeur, who originally hails from Saline.

When he approached his father about converting part of the building into a brewery, Payeur says the old man was initially a bit skeptical.

"But he did a lot of research and saw how vibrant the beer business in Michigan really is," said Payeur. "Then he got on board with the idea."

The brewhouse will consist of a seven-barrel brewing system from G.W. Kent of Ypsilanti, similar to the one used at Original Gravity Brewing in Milan. A homebrewer for the past six years, Payeur says an employee of Kent he knows will guide him in the setup and running of the system to make sure things go smoothly as he transitions to commercial brewing.

Payeur plans to have six beers on tap for the anticipated early summer opening, but intends to continually add new beers – at least one a month – until Glasshouse has 20 drafts going at all times.

He said that in his beer travels around the state including to brewery-heavy cities like Grand Rapids and Traverse City, he always came back to Ann Arbor wishing one of the locals produced large varieties of more experimental beers.

"We've got good breweries in Ann Arbor, but I feel like no one's really pushing the envelope like Short's or Dark Horse, which one year brought 99 different beers to the Michigan Summer Beer Festival," said Payeur. "We want to be the kind of brewery that does stuff like that."

Plans for the tap room include a seating area for about 70 people, but no kitchen – at least to start. Payeur has already made arrangements with next-door Chela's Restaurant and Taqueria, and patrons will be encouraged to order and bring in outside food when hunger strikes.

Future home of the Glasshouse tap room.

"Chela's has told us they'll bring over food and are even willing to come over and bus our tables," he said. "Depending on how things go, we could add a kitchen down the line and put in more tanks, maybe a canning line. We have some room to grow."

In the warm months, part of the parking lot will be converted into a patio, approximately doubling the seat space. Payeur said the tables will have gas lines running into them to provide heat in the cooler spring and fall months.

Along with his brother, Payeur will brew beers from his homebrewing reportoire, which has included things from bourbon stouts to megahopped IPAs to a porter that tasted like s'mores to more experimental styles.

"The excitement of new beer is key," he said. "The beer drinking community in Ann Arbor is great, and I think they'll accept us really well."

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