Terrestrial Brewing Co. plans to open its doors later this month (April) in Cleveland’s Battery Park neighborhood. A specific opening date hasn’t been set yet, but here’s a 12-pack of facts about the upcoming brewery:
1. Co-founder and head brewer Ralph Sgro wants to brew beer in a fish bowl.
Yes, he used the term “fish bowl.” In other words, he wants customers to watch the brewing process and he doesn’t mind being under the microscope.
Unlike a real fish bowl, though, there’s no glass between beer drinkers and the brewing system. There’s only a short wall with stools facing the five-barrel Portland Kettle Works system and fermenters.
“We didn’t want to put anything hidden in the back,” Sgro said. “We wanted everything to be out front in the open.”
(Truth be told, the brewing system isn’t in the round like a fish bowl, either, and there’s no treasure chest that occasionally pops open releasing air bubbles.)
2. Terrestrial wants customers to feel free to be part of the brewing process. If they want to ask a question, that’s encouraged. The brewery will hold some brewing demonstrations on Friday afternoons when people can watch the process.
3. Terrestrial is the brainchild of Sgro, 31; Ryan Bennett, 38; and Drew Lang, 37 — three guys who live in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood. Sgro and Bennett hatched their brewery plan over beers while Sgro was working for the nearby Platform Beer Co. Bennett is in the corporate finance world. Meanwhile, Sgro and Lang, who’s in the bartending business, have been homebrewing together for about a decade.
4. The brewery occupies nearly 4,000 square feet of the first floor of a gorgeous two-story brick building that once helped produce Eveready batteries. (More on that in a sec.) There are plans to expand into the second floor as long as business is strong.
The building sits smack in the middle of a massive complex of high-end townhomes tucked between Detroit Avenue and Edgewater Park. Giant white-framed windows look out onto the townhomes, which start around $300,000. This isn’t some downtrodden Cleveland area. There’s a built-in customer base all around, as Terrestrial tries to develop a tasting room with a neighborhood feel.
5. Speaking of neighborhood feels, Terrestrial will be 100 percent dog friendly.
6. Terrestrial hopes to take full advantage of Edgewater Park, the swimming beach along Lake Erie with the phenomenal views of the downtown Cleveland skyline.
The brewery looks out over the park and has views of the lake. An outdoor patio offers an even better view.
The West 76th Street tunnel runs beneath a railroad line and the West Shoreway, meaning people from the neighborhood can pop over to the beach and people from the beach can pop over to the neighborhood.
7. Yes, railroad tracks are just feet away from the back of the brewery and trains rumble by several times an hour.
“We thought we were going to hate them but they are pretty awesome,” Sgro said.
8. The building itself once produced Eveready batteries. There’s a giant smokestack on top of the structure. The building owner gutted the building to the foundation and walls so it feels brand spanking new with its concrete floor, exposed brick, open ductwork and new wooden ceiling. If you’re looking for a comparison for an interior feel, think Masthead Brewing Co. in Cleveland, HiHO in Cuyahoga Falls and Streetside in Cincinnati.
One area that definitely doesn’t have a fresh feel is the basement, which has that musty old basement smell and several rusted boilers. Down the road, the brewery would like to launch a barrel-aging program there. (The basement isn’t open to the public so there’s no reason you’d be wandering around there anyhow.)
9. The beer! Get to the beer!
Terrestrial will launch with five to seven beers. What will be on tap?
• No. 1 Denali, a pale ale.
• Pocket Flower, an imperial IPA.
• Ras El Hanout Porter, a porter.
• Space Chimp Wit, a witbier made with passion fruit.
• Watch Party, an American pale wheat ale.
• Saison D’Boognish, a saison collaboration with Corey Miller at Hansa Brewery.
“We’re going to take a little bit of a culinary approach,” Sgro said. “Right now, we don’t have any set stable beers. We’re going to brew whatever we want until someone tells us that they can’t live without us making the same beer again.”
The brewery has 16 taps and would love to fill them all with Terrestrial brews. But in the meantime, there will be guest beers, along with Ohio spirits and a limited wine selection.
There’s also an infusion tower built into the bar, allowing the brewery to infuse beer with everything from — as Sgro said — fresh fruit to gummy worms.
The tap system is built into a long, reclaimed piece of wood. The flight paddles also are made of reclaimed wood.
10. The brewery will offer snacks but no food. It’ll have relationships with restaurants in the neighborhood. Cha spirits & pizza kitchen occupies the other half of the first floor of the building.
11. At nearly 4,000 square feet, Terrestrial isn’t a big space once you add in the brewing system, fermenters and bar — although the high ceilings give it an open feel. Knowing its space constraints, Terrestrial built a walk-in cooler outside the building to house the serving tanks and kegs. Hmm. Maybe that’s a walk-out cooler then?
The cooler houses one of the cooler — sorry — items in the brewery. Terrestrial is acting as a guinea pig for a new Norlake Manufacturing electronic keg system.
The equipment moves the kegs and weighs them, as well, making sure they are filled properly.
“I’ll never have to lift a keg another day in my life,” Sgro says.
12. Terrestrial will be open seven days a week. The hours are 3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; noon to 2 a.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.