Our New Brewery is on It's Way
The 20,000-square-foot building at Station Road and Knowledge Parkway, near Interstate 90, will house the company's brewery, brew pub and something new, a John's Wildwood Pizzeria.
"We're excited," Erie Brewing owner and General Manager Rob Lowther said. "We spent the last three years looking at locations in Erie, Millcreek, Summit and Harborcreek. We also looked at existing buildings in Erie. Renovation costs made it clear that it made more sense to build a new building exactly the way we want it."
The Harborcreek location is ideal, Lowther said.
"We wanted to be in a safe area with great visibility and easy access to and from the city. This site gives us the best of all worlds," he said.
The building will be built into a hillside with a mezzanine level and outdoor porch facing Lake Erie. The 3,000-square-foot mezzanine will offer views of the lake and, through glass, of the brewery and brewpub below, Lowther said. The mezzanine will be open to the public and available for private parties.
Glass behind the bar in the 3,000-square-foot brewpub will offer up-close looks at the brewery. The brew pub will also have an outdoor seating area.
The 2,900-square-foot pizzeria will have its own entrance for sit-down or takeout service. Customers also will be able to order pizza in the brew pub.
"John (Bellucci) has been in business for over 30 years. He's as passionate about pizza as we are about our beer," Lowther said.
Bellucci opened John's Wildwood Pizzeria in Erie in 1979. The restaurant moved to Erie Street in Edinboro in 1987.
Erie Brewing Co. was founded as Hoppers Brewpub in Erie's Union Station in 1993 and brewed 1,040 barrels of craft beers in its first year. The business grew into a microbrewery and moved to its current location at 1213 Veshecco Drive in Erie six years later. Lowther bought the company in 2012.
Erie Brewing currently brews more than 6,500 barrels of beer annually for distribution in six states. The company brews six beers year round, including Misery Bay IPA and Mad Anthony labels, and five seasonal beers, including Erie Oktoberfest. The company also brews specialty beers in small, 20-to-40-barrel batches throughout the year.
Visibility and parking became concerns at the brewery's current location, where it rents 9,900 square feet at the Veshecco Industrial Park.
"Even though we're right on (West) 12th Street, we don't have great visibility, and only very limited parking," Lowther said. "We do a lot of fundraisers for charity. A Dogtober Fest that my daughter (Erie Brewing Sales and Marketing Director Jennifer Hausmann) created was a huge success and raised something like $2,400 for the A.N.N.A. Shelter. But people had to park in all different areas and walk, and we had to put up tents and heaters because we didn't have room inside to accommodate everyone. We realized that, in a different facility, those kind of events would be that much more successful."
City taxes also were an issue, Lowther said.
"If you're a large, multinational firm coming to Erie, you could probably handle paying $100,000 a year in taxes. If you're a small business, you can't afford it," he said. "A lot of people thought that (decreasing tax breaks for several years) was the big deal in us moving, but the real deciding factor were the taxes in the city of Erie. The way it's structured, you can't build new."
The new Erie Brewing Co. facility is expected to be completed and open next spring, he said.