When Gravely Brewing Co. opens its doors near Phoenix Hill on Friday, Aug. 18, there will be a lot of wide eyes.
For one, the brewery’s opening has been highly anticipated since it was announced it was coming in 2017, and for another, the design of the place made outstanding use of space, with a music hall that is designed to hold more than 300 people, a 15-barrel brewhouse, a large taproom with a bar that spans almost the full side of the building, and a two-level deck overlooking a pair of caverns that date to the 1800s.
The taproom, brewery and an adjacent sitting area are accented with bright orange, while the music hall is equipped with a large, 3-foot-high stage and has splashes of burgundy red.
That hall, which doubles as a beer hall with six-top tables when there’s not a band playing, will feature games like darts, Ping-Pong, cornhole and others. There also is a permanent photo booth operated by Mag Booth.
One of the more impressive elements of the brewery-meets-music-venue is the bar back, which consists of a couple dozen vintage stereo components and speakers, including everything from turntables from the 1970s and ’80s, cassette decks and even eight-track tape players. Custom shelving holds everything in place.
Two flatscreen TVs set into the bar back will usually show vintage videos on silent as the stereo system provides the background music. While I was there, 1970s funk was the playlist, with the Ohio Players’ “Funky Worm” piping in as I spoke with co-owner Nathaniel Gravely about the stereo equipment.
“It’s kind of a labor of love,” he said of the bar back, adding that partner and head brewer Cory Buenning took on the task of collecting most of the equipment at thrift stores, flea markets, from Craigslist and other outlets.
When the bar is open, all the consoles will be on, with all the lights and displays providing a glow for the taproom.
Gravely also noted that the TVs behind the bar will only rarely show anything but silent videos and other music-related content. Only in the event of a big game will sports be shown.
“We’re not going to be a sports bar,” he said, adding he hopes to facilitate conversation in the taproom. “TVs tend to be a conversation suck in a bar.”
A garage door in the back of the taproom can be raised to create an outdoor bar that seats six. Meanwhile, the dog-friendly and non-smoking deck will be outfitted with tables and railings with a full view of the caverns that well over a century ago were used for fermenting lager beers by Phoenix Brewing Co., which operated from the mid-1860s into the early 1900s.
A portion of the former brewery sits next door to Gravely. A set of concrete stairs will lead to a small deck area above the caverns.
Also on the deck will be a permanent food truck operated by Mayan Café. The truck is called Mayan Street Food and will sell tacos and other Mexican and Mayan fare.
During my visit, the sound system was being installed, with speakers being hung above the stage and a subwoofer built into the bottom of the stage. The room is fully outfitted for good acoustics.
“I spent way too much money making sure that room sounds like velvet,” Gravely said.
He said a few music events likely will happen this fall, but he and Buenning want to get the brewery and taproom section up and running first, with an eye to a full music schedule in 2018.
The tap system accommodates 14 beers, although seven will be available for the grand opening. Each beer has a music-related name, and all have some connection to a song, be it Sweet Stout O’ Mine or La Bamba (a Mexican lager).
Other beers include Power Chord (a West Coast IPA), Test Pressing (session IPA), Analog (amber ale), Doc’s Hefe (hefeweizen), and That Cherry Bomb (a cherry stout).
“That’s the fun part,” Gravely said, “naming the beers and tying it to our overall brand.”
Gravely Brewing, located at 514 Baxter Ave., officially opens to the public Friday at 3 p.m.