When Jay and Lori Wince opened Weasel Boy Brewing Co. in Zanesville, they wanted to create a little different atmosphere for a brewery – at least for Ohio. They took inspiration from a few brewpubs in Colorado that are set up more like a coffeehouse than a brewery. The brewing equipment is up front and customers have to walk past it to get to a small bar. And the bar area has no televisions, forcing people to – gasp – actually talk to each other.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: We would have to say first and foremost our love of craft beer was the main reason! We started enjoying craft beer in the early 1990s and took the next evolutionary step by getting involved in homebrewing shortly afterward. By 2003 we were pretty seriously involved in the homebrew scene both locally and nationally. As many homebrewers do, we always thought about going pro and opening our own brewery. It was just a fantasy at first but as time went on, we started talking to professional brewers about commercial brewing. We also started to seriously look into equipment availability, locations, and what aspects of the brewpubs we had visited we would want to incorporate into a venture of our own. Things started coming together and the time seemed right so we did our planning and started work on the brewery in late 2006.
Q: What sets Weasel Boy Brewing apart in the crowded beer industry?
A: We feel that it’s difficult to stand apart from others in the industry based on product alone, although there are a few that do. We were more concerned with high quality standards for our products and the right feel for our pub. We wanted the pub to stand out in our city. We nixed TVs from the start as there were too many sports-type bars already. We wanted our pub to be a place where people came to relax and congregate with friends to enjoy each other’s company and conversation and to listen to live music. We wanted them to get to know each other and make new friends. Beer is social and we wanted to promote that aspect of the beverage. We wanted our clientele to feel as if they were part of the brewery so we put the brewery out there in front of them with no walls or glass to separate them. We wanted comfortable old mismatched furniture to give the feel of a cozy coffeehouse or comfy old den.
We would concede, however, that our approach to our beer lineup was definitely not with the trends when we started. In 2007 everything was going bigger, bigger, bigger with an ever-increasing amount of big, high-alcohol and bold overbearing beers. That’s all fine and dandy but we wanted our customers to be able to enjoy a few pints over the course of an evening without becoming intoxicated or suffering from palette fatigue. We chose to fill our main line of offerings with styles that are moderate alcohol smooth drinking beers. We do offer bigger bolder seasonal and rotational offerings but they are still usually on the small end of their style. I guess you could say that our way of standing out was to try and not stand out when everyone else was trying to.
Q: Where did you come up with the name Weasel Boy? And why are nearly all your beers blessed with weasel-related names?
A: The Weasel Boy name came directly from our pets, which are ferrets. Domestic ferrets are members of the weasel family and are descended from European polecats of the eastern steps of Europe. When we were trying to decide on a name for our new venture, we threw around a number of serious sounding names that would have tied us geographically to the area. A couple were pretty good names and strongly considered but when it came right down to it, we wanted to express our individuality and decided to use the name we had always used for our home brewery. The nickname Weasel Boys came from friends who used to visit and ask how the Weasel Boys were doing. It just felt right to us. We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously and we wanted customers to think of our place as fun. That’s also why we chose the logo we did. It’s not the stately, traditional logo with waving grain and cascading hop vines. It’s a goofy weasel looking thirsty!
As for our beer names it was just a fun thing to do. It maintained our identity in our brands. It made coming up with a new beer name almost as much fun as coming up with a new beer. So far we’ve used any number of different members of the weasel family and have also used Flemish and German variants.
Q: What’s your favorite beer that you brew and why?
A: This is one of those loaded questions like asking a parent which is their favorite child. We appreciate each of our creations differently based on their own uniqueness but in the end love them all. Depending on what day it is, what the weather is like, what kind of mood we’re in we may not drink the same beer more than once in any given week so as for what beer is our favorite to brew in that context, it is very, very difficult to say.
Now from a pure brewing aspect we like to brew moderate strength traditional styles based solely on how smooth the brew day usually runs. Brewing higher alcohol or big hoppy beers can create some logistical issues that can cause headaches during the brew day.
That being stated when it’s all said and done if we’re brewing, we’re happy. That means customers are enjoying our product and we need to brew more for them to enjoy!
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: That’s not a question we can easily answer if we even can. Let’s just say that it would be cool to create a beer that would become widely copied or a world recognized style, much in the way pilsner did. Beyond that we don’t think we could pick any one beer!