Ohio Brewing Company Readies to Open its Doors
Alex Hall, 07-25-2019

Chris Verich pictured here giving a tour of the soon-to-be open Ohio Brewing Company brewery and restaurant in download Cuyahoga Falls.
Stephen Mulé
Ohio Brewing Company might be one of the most anticipated new businesses in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, and after nearly a year and a half, the doors are now set to open any day. Owner Chris Verich recently invited the Falls Free Press on a tour of the 15,000 square foot brewery and restaurant for a sneak peek of what’s to come in the historic downtown space at 2250 Front St.

The ground level of the brewery will feature a lounge area with large tables made from an old bowling lane paired with church pews. There will also be couches, plush chairs, and a small area for solo music performances in this area. Regular table-and-chair dining room seating plus longer tables with both wall and chair seating will also be available. As for the main bar, it features a pure copper bar top with 25 seats and high-top tables situated around it. All told, there will be around 140 seats on the main floor. The basement of the space will host an arcade game room and a separate bar besides pool, darts, and live music, plus a men's room with urinals made from beer barrels. The third floor is part of what Verich calls phase two, which he hopes to open in the fall for various private event applications like banquets and group meetings. Outside, an extensive patio will wrap around the corner of the building.

The building itself opened in 1917 as a Buick dealership before becoming a general store in the 1950s. It was later a pool hall that is said to have hosted The McCoys, whose version of “Hang on Sloopy” became the official rock song of Ohio, providing some providence for a brewery with “Ohio” in its name later occupying the same space. After it was a pool hall, the building became home to the Studios of Jack Richard and Almond Tea Art Gallery until Richard’s death in 2014. Verich purchased the property from the subsequent owner and began the 16-month renovation process to house the brewery and restaurant—renovation that was extensive and necessary to get the building ready to house the brewery and restaurant.

As for the beer, 32 taps will serve 16 Ohio Brewing Company beers and 16 guest craft brews. The brewing equipment boasts a 15-barrel system with two 15-barrel fermenters and five 30-barrel fermenters, plus five horizontal brite tanks. There will be a full bar available besides the flagship and guest beer offerings, complete with wine and craft cocktails. There are even plans to install a beer engine to make cask ale available on tap regularly for customers. Food-wise, Ohio Brewing will have a full kitchen, and the menu will include pizza that uses spent grain from the brewing process to make a crust with rich texture and flavor. Also on the menu will be burgers and sandwiches, stuffed Hungarian hot peppers, seafood, vegetarian items, and desserts such as German chocolate cake with stout frosting.

Verich, who is originally from Warren, Ohio, founded the original Ohio Brewing Company in 1997 in Niles, Ohio. A craft brewery in the area at that time was a risky endeavor, but Verich’s background as a beer enthusiast provided the passion necessary to drive the business’s success. While a student at Kent State, he was able to travel to Germany where he fell in love with the history and many varieties of German beer. By the late-1980s, he was home brewing, and before long his beer was winning medals at regional home brewing competitions. This led him to take professional beer brewing courses and seminars to improve his skill even further, and he later traveled to the US west coast, whose growing brewpub culture was itself eye-opening. He would eventually serve as an apprentice at a brewery in Florida and train at still another brewery on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, after which he pursued opening the Niles location of Ohio Brewing Company. By around 2003, the brewery was slated to move to Youngstown, but a business partner bought out the business minus the name, which led Verich to brew in Akron in 2008. The Great Recession soon forced the closure of the brewery’s restaurant partner, so Verich set up shop in another Akron location strictly as a microbrewery, operating for five years until coming to grips with the fact that he missed having a pub along with the brewery. He helped craft legislation to combine the licensure for brewpubs to brew beer and sell their wares in an attached pub without a restaurant while serving briefly as a representative in the Ohio State Legislature. Soon enough, Verich opened the Highland Square location of Ohio Brewing, where he operated for about a year until city leaders in Cuyahoga Falls suggested he relocate to the city’s newly renovated downtown area, which he was convinced of when he saw the location he is now set to open.

Verich describes the new Cuyahoga Falls location of Ohio Brewing Company as his last location, and even though another location is opening simultaneously in Columbus with the help of a business partner, he said the Falls location “is the crème de la crème of Ohio Brewing in Summit County.”

Verich’s goal as a brewery operator is to provide a wide selection of beers, a selection that includes a variety of award-winning brews including a Kolsch-style ale called Verich Gold, an Oktoberfest-style beer called Ohiofest, an amber ale called Alt-ernative Amber, an Irish red ale called Cardinal Ale, an American stout known as the Steel Valley Stout, the summer seasonal Buckeye Blonde, a double Irish-style red ale called Double Irish Red, and the well-known Jingle Bell Ale. IPA lovers will be happy to know that there is not only a west coast-style IPA in the O'Hoppy Ale, but also a new IPA set to debut, a New England-style brew dubbed Western Reserve IPA.

A soft opening and VIP night are expected during the run-up to the grand opening of Ohio Brewing Company, and Verich suggested that two weeks might be a realistic timeframe at the time of our walkthrough. A staff of around 40 people has been hired and trained to run the operation once it opens, and many volunteers have helped with preparations.

“It's a beautiful facility,” Verich said. “We wanted to give a present to the city of Cuyahoga Falls and surrounding region. This is what I always wanted a brewpub to be.”

Of the sheer availability of craft beer in the city, Verich said “Cuyahoga Falls is really a beer destination,” and he attributes this to the demand for variety. “People deserve choices,” he said, and this was his goal when he began brewing, to provide a variety of quality brews. There is also a respect for the craft at Ohio Brewing that can be seen in the process—they even mill grain onsite. What's more, the production facility supports bottling for distribution, so it's clear that they are covering their bases as a brewery in their attempts to meet the demand.

With the opening of Ohio Brewing Company in Cuyahoga Falls on the horizon, the city is poised to have yet another player in the craft beer game, and it's no slouch. When the doors finally do open officially, the Falls Free Press will be sure to head back over as part of our “Tap Talk” series and bring our readers pictures of the fully-renovated space as well.

Look for Ohio Brewing Company to open pretty much any time now at 2250 Front St. and check out www.ohiobrewing.com for more info plus swag, upcoming events, and more.

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