Tom Schaeffer is the founder and CEO of Black Cloister Brewing Co., 619 Monroe St., which will open March 20. The brewery will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesdays through Sundays.
This is the debut of Raise a Glass, a monthly craft beer column covering what’s brewing in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. It will appear in The Blade’s Peach Weekender the last Thursday of every month.
Did you hear that collective cheer Tuesday at 619 Monroe St.?
That’s when Black Cloister held its first official brew day, setting the stage for March 20 as the opening for the much-anticipated downtown brewery.
“We’ve taken a lot longer than a lot of breweries take to get started, but we feel like we’ve positioned ourselves for success,” said Tom Schaeffer, CEO and founder of Black Cloister Brewing Co.
It took a lot of hard work to prepare the building, which had sat vacant since the 1970s.
Schaeffer and his business partners — Bob Hall, Mike Kennedy, and Scott Biddle — installed a seven-barrel, electric brewing system, which is fitting since the structure built in 1874 is believed to be the first building in Toledo to be wired for electricity.
The brewery will have the ability to produce close to 2,000 barrels of beer a year, Schaeffer said. The renovated space also has room for additional fermenters to be installed on the ground level as well as in the basement, which would increase production.
Maybe the most intriguing aspect about Black Cloister’s plans, however, is Schaeffer and primary brewers Hall and Shannon Speight will allow the consumers to decide which beers will be taproom staples.
“We have a number of beers we think that are going to be those beers, but we may put those out there and find something else rises to the top,” said Schaeffer, one of the founders of the Glass City Mashers homebrewing club. “So rather than pigeonhole ourselves and say this is our year-round or this is our flagship, let’s see what those who are drinking the beers say and make our decision then.”
There are plans for nine different beers in the first four weeks of production, with emphasis on Belgian-style beers. Other styles such as American IPAs, Porters, and Irish reds also will be brewed.
Black Cloister won’t serve any food, and doesn’t have a kitchen. It strictly will be run as a taproom, but that doesn’t mean customers can’t eat at the brewery. Schaeffer said patrons will be able to order “take-in” from neighboring restaurants, including Table Forty 4 and PizzaPapalis. And in turn, the brewery’s beer will be available at those restaurants — but those won’t be the only ones.
“I have verbal agreements with 27 restaurants to serve our beer,” Schaeffer said. “Even though we don’t have our own kitchen, in a lot of ways we’re going to have more of a selection than most restaurants do. It’s a symbiotic relationship.”
The interior of the taproom takes advantage of gorgeous brick arches, making it seem as though the brewery has been in existence for decades.
The bar top is hammered black steel and is the showcase of the brewery. A bar rail that runs the length of the far wall is made from 100-year-old cherry wood and will have a mural above it.
“It’s a monastic theme we’re looking at, so when I walked into this place I just knew it was the right building for us,” Schaeffer said of the brewery named of the original Black Cloister monastery in Wittenberg, Germany. It was the onetime home of Martin Luther, whose wife was a brewer.
“We want to provide an experience. I really think beer is about community. When you get a really nice beer, a craft beer, you want to drink it with a friend. That’s the way I drink craft beer. I really want it to be about promoting a sense of community in this space.”
Taps are ready for their first pulls on opening day.
Black Frog Brewery needs your votes
Black Frog Brewery is participating in the annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. Chris Harris operates the commercial brewery in his Holland garage. If Black Frog Brewery wins one of the 10 grants, Harris plans to use the money to help open a taproom. To read about Harris’ story and vote for the brewery in the contest, go to tinyurl.com/n29tjzz. Voting runs through March 17.
Glass City Beer Festival tickets
The ninth annual Glass City Beer Festival will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. March 6 at the Lucas County Rec Center, 2901 Key St., in Maumee.
There will be more than 200 beers from more than 40 microbreweries on site for tasting. Admission, which includes 12 tasting tickets, is $30 in advance and $35 at the door. There also are a limited amount of VIP tickets (18 tickets with access to food from Swig, $50/$55) available. Tickets can be purchased at The Andersons.
Proceeds will benefit the Northwest Ohio Hemophilia Foundation and Camp Courageous & The Arc of NW Ohio, Inc.
For more information, go to glasscitybeerfest.com.
Contact Bob Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6506.
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