A new brewery launching later this year in downtown Canton is in experienced hands. Brewmaster David Sutula, who’s setting up the Canton Brewing Co., has quite the beer resume.
In his younger days, he started a little newsletter that eventually grew into the Great Lakes Brewing News. He trained at the Siebel Institute of Technology and also trained in Ireland.
His industry background includes helping start the now-closed Diamondback and John Harvard’s breweries in Cleveland, and working at the Willoughby Brewing Co. in Willoughby and former Crooked River brewery in Cleveland. (Diamondback won a few medals at the Great American Beer Festival while he was there.)
And he authored the book Mild Ale: History, Brewing, Techniques, Recipes.
After a lengthy brewing hiatus when he co-founded and ran a marketing firm with his wife, Sutula, 42, of Jackson Township is jumping back into the industry.
He hooked up with Canton businessman David Beule who was talking about opening a brewery in the community. And he realized that the more they talked, the more he was getting the itch to brew professionally again.
“I said, ‘If you really want to do this, let’s do this and I’ll put it together,’” Sutula said.
And that’s what he’s doing now with the goal of opening on Dec. 13.
Canton is the second largest city in Ohio without a brewery in the corporation limits. (The largest is the Cleveland suburb of Parma.) And the company will attempt to join in on the continuing growth of the craft beer industry. There were about 2,822 breweries nationwide last year, up 14.9 percent from the previous year.
Canton Brewing, 120 Third St. NW, will be both a production brewery and restaurant in a 20,000-square-foot space. A Rite Aid occupies the front half of the yellow brick building, which once housed the McCrory’s five and dime store.
The vision for the operation is something akin to Hoppin’ Frog Brewery in Akron, with the production brewery feeding the restaurant. But that’s where any comparison would stop.
Canton Brewing will be spread over two floors. A 15-barrel JV Northwest brewhouse will be in full view as visitors enter the brewery. The first floor also will feature a bar, dining area and kitchen — and plenty of exposed brick. There also will be an outdoor patio.
The menu is still being worked out but Sutula said it will feature pizza and pub-style food like burgers and grilled cheese.
The basement, with its high ceilings, is being turned into an old school rathskeller with local bricks. This giant area will house a barrel aging room (where Sutula would like to do sours), private dining area, fermenters and another bar.
Workers — who are busy inside the place now — are building brick arches that resemble the window arches from the original Canton Brewing Co. The Canton Brewing Co. was founded in the 1880s and went through various incarnations and owners before closing in the 1940s, according to the book Brewing Beer in the Buckeye State: Volume 1.
It’s not just arches that the new Canton Brewing will paid homage to.
The brewery will focus on pre-Prohibition lagers that date back to its namesake.
“I did a hell of a lot of research on what beers were like prior to Prohibition,” Sutula said in reference to his book. “There’s some crazy things we used to do.
“We’re bent on that pre-Prohibition idea,” he added. “It’s where American traditional beers meet the new craft classics.”
The original Canton Brewing had a beer called Tuscora and Sutula is will bring back that brand. He wants it to become the brewery’s flagship beer.
Other regulars will be a schwarzbier and a pale ale.
The brewery will have eight taps, meaning there’s plenty of room for rotating beers.
There likely will be a session India pale ale and a British mild among those.
He’s especially proud of plans for the pale ale, which will feature whole cascade hop cones grown locally. The brewhouse is set up to handle the cones.
Canton Brewing also will release four special bottle-conditioned beers a year in 22-ounce or 750ml bottles, depending on the style. They will be available at the brewery and for limited distribution.
Plans also call for distributing beer in kegs on a limited basis. The brewery also may dabble in cans.
The Dec. 13 opening date holds some significance. In numbers, it’s 12-13-14.
The Tuscora will be 12 degrees on the Plato scale, while the schwarzbier will be 13 and the pale ale will be 14, Sutula said. (Plato relates to the density of wort.)
“I’m committed to hitting that date,” he said.
The reaction in the community has been positive.
“I think a brewery downtown would be awesome,” said Robin Cotton, who lives in Bolivar but works in Canton. “I think they need it in the area.”
She and her family attended the Arc of Ohio-Stark County’s Rhythm & Brews beer tasting this week at the Canton Cultural Center for the Arts.
“I like to see breweries coming in because all the people I know are winery people. I like beer. I’m a peasant,” Susan Cotton said with a laugh.
“The two Daves make a great team: hard workers, great vision, and years of expertise combined — one in the business world and the other in the brewery world,” she said. “Plus, they’re just plain fun. A new Canton Brewery Co. Facebook post is something I always read. Informative, interesting, and leaves you with a great teaser of things to come.
“Around these parts we already have a term for what Dave’s project is,” she added. “We call it ‘The Gervasi of Breweries.’ If you’ve been to Gervasi Vineyards, you know that’s the highest compliment.”