Adam Rhodes and Kevin Atkinson had been kicking around a few names for their new brewery.
Then, a friend and history professor at Denison University mentioned how they are modern day homesteaders. Neither is from Ohio. Both, along with their families, moved to Central Ohio for work.
The homesteader idea stuck and the Homestead Beer Co. was born.
Their production brewery, which they hope will be selling beer by mid October, is in the city of Heath, a town of about 10,300 people located 35 miles east of Columbus and right next to Newark in Licking County.
"There’s a great beer scene that’s starting to come on line here," Rhodes said. "And we want to take advantage of it."
Rhodes, 37, who’s originally from Washington, D.C., has been a homebrewer for about a decade. He’s in the software development industry now, and Atkinson, 38, who’s from Philadelphia, is in technical sales and support. Both were interested, though, in branching out on their own.
A brewery made sense because of their shared interest in beer and the growth of the craft industry. They started their brewery effort about 18 months ago – well before news broke about at least six new breweries opening in nearby Columbus, Rhodes said with a chuckle.
"We’re going to do almost solely session beers, principally ales," he said. "We’ll probably stretch out to lagers down the road."
The first three beers will be an amber ale and two American pale ales, one of those being a bit maltier than a traditional pale ale. They will use a variety of European yeasts with their ales.
"When you’re working with just a few ingredients you want to make sure all your ingredients are working hard to bring something to the table," said Rhodes, who took brewing classes through the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago. "Old school European yeasts bring a much different flavor profile to ales than do the cleaner American yeasts and it’s a flavor I’ve always loved in ales."
Homestead has a direct-fire, 15-barrel Premier Stainless brew system. Many new breweries are opting for tiny systems, saying they’ll expand as interest in their beer grows.
But Rhodes said they opted for the larger brewhouse right off the bat because there wasn’t that great of a difference in the start-up costs between the 15-barrel system and a nanobrewery.
The initial plan is to serve the Heath, Newark and Granville areas. Homestead will focus on draft beer only at first, and there are no plans right now to open a tasting room.
"We want to start slow," Rhodes said. "Our focus is on making exceptional beer. We’re really looking forward to it. We know we’re going to make super awesome, drinkable beer and we hope people are going to enjoy it."
Because the name Homestead Beer Co. has a turn-of-the-century quality, they wanted their logos to reflect that feel, as well. Two of the logos have a well-worn look and incorporate black and white images of Civil War-era men with pronounced facial hair.
They don’t even know who the two men are. They just fell in love with the guys with the crazy moustache and beard.
"They are emblematic of who we are," Rhodes said. "I love that beard. Isn’t that amazing? One of these days we’ll have to figure out who the heck they are."