Brian Seelinger and Rick Mack figured that offering craft beer would be the perfect complement to their three-year-old homebrewing and wine-making shop in Mentor. So last month they took the plunge. The Brew Mentor is now also a nanobrewery and tasting room.
"It’s always something that we wanted to do," Seelinger said. "We are able to sell beer that we make but it’s not that we want to be a bar. It’s a nice cross-over sell. People come in and they want to talk about craft beer. And we can provide craft beer that they, in turn, can go home and make."
The Brew Mentor has a 30-gallon Ruby Street Brewing system.
Seelinger expects to offer six or seven beers on draft at any given time once the operation is in full production. As of last week, there were three available: Headlands Blonde, Cardinal Red and James IPA Garfield. All the beer names will reflect local themes.
The IPA is an homage to Garfield, who served as U.S. president for 200 days in 1881 before being shot by an embittered attorney who wanted a consular post. The beer features 81 IBUs, started out at 1.081 original gravity and is 8.1 percent alcohol by volume.
Seelinger will soon add Route 2 Stout, Lakeshore Porter and Plaza Pale Ale to the mix. The beers will rotate.
The Brew Mentor — the name is a play on words because it’s in Mentor and the owners enjoy mentoring people — is offering just draft beer. There’s no immediate plan to bottle. But Seelinger said he will eventually put together brewing kits that allow homebrewers to recreate The Brew Mentor beers.
"We’re getting really nice reception from the bar," Seelinger said. "Today at lunchtime, there were half a dozen people sitting in the bar all talking about brewing. The people who are coming in are excited and interested in craft beer."
Growlers will be added in the future. But the nanobrewery would run out of beer too quickly right now if growlers were sold, Seelinger said.
He added that The Brew Mentor is expanding quite a bit to fill out its 4,300 square feet. In addition to the tasting room and nanobrewery, the business is building a kitchen area and party room for private parties, and expanding into coffee.
Fans of the television show Treehouse Masters on the Animal Planet might recognize the name because The Brew Mentor installed the brewing system in a treehouse in Knox County for the program. To watch the show, click here.