Doug Muranyi is the brewmaster at Kelleys Island Brewery. He and his wife Patti Johnson-Muranyi also own the brewpub, one of four brewpubs on the Lake Erie Islands and the only one on Kelleys Island. Because of its location, the brewpub is a seasonal operation and relies on island tourism for business. It’s also one of the most difficult breweries to visit in Ohio since you have to take a ferry to get to it. Kelleys Island Brewery has one of the most beautiful brewery settings in the state. A stone patio overlooks the lake and mainland, giving visitors a gorgeous view while enjoying a beer. Kelleys Island Brewery is set to open for the season April 27.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I became a brewer with my brother in the late 80's and early 90's because we were looking for a better product. All the beers were watered down. It was so far from tasty. Back then Coors was the cat's meow. Now look at our beer shelves.
Q: Since Kelleys Island Brewery is on a Lake Erie island, it relies on tourism and is closed during the winter. Are there special challenges operating a seasonal brewery?
A: Having a seasonal business is challenging in many ways. First off, financially. It takes a lot of planning to save nuts to get you through the winter. Patti and I have worked out of state for years to sustain the brewery.
Another challenge is that each season we have to train new employees that are critical to the success of a three-month season enjoyed for six months.
We enjoy being able to meticulously clean and close down all the equipment. It is part of the challenges to know when to close and when to open.
But most of all the largest challenge is financial, the catering business has improved our bottom line. We throw some great private parties on the cottage lawn with kegs of great ales.
Q: Your brewery dabbled with distributing and bottling a few years ago. Do you have any plans to try that again?
A: We have our beer available at our location only. We are working with some ideas for November so stay in touch at www.kelleysislandbrewpub.com.
Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?
A: Our best-selling beer is Island Devil. People come from all over for it. They take coolers of it home. it has a high gravity and a light taste. People love it. The name says it all. Most travelers that find our brewery on the lake like a little “dance with the Devil.”
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: We focus on our six hand crafted ales and our customers for the most part. We leave the wishing to all the fishermen!