Beer is personal at Wolf Hollow
New microbrewery eyes customer role
GLENVILLE Don’t expect to find bottles or cans of Wolf Hollow Brewing Co.’s beer at the local supermarket or beverage center.
Owners Pete Bednarek and Jordan White want their customers to experience the full flavor of their hand-crafted beers, which means they only intend to serve it from draft. But more importantly, they want a chance to meet the people drinking their hyper-local product and gather their input.
In short, Wolf Hollow’s beer is about building community, Bednarek explained. It’s about bringing back the type of small local operations that once dotted the landscape centuries ago.
“It’s really kind of harkening back to the days when there was a brewer in every town,” he said.
Wolf Hollow plans to produce about 50 gallons of beer a week at its base of operations in the small kitchen at the West Glenville Grange Hall. The start-up nanobrewery is now marketing its product at the grange on Mondays and Thursdays, when customers can purchase either 32-ounce or 64-ounce growlers of the three flagship beers and one seasonal recipe.
This way, the two owners can get to know their clientele. And that’s a driving goal the two partners have in starting Wolf Hollow.
“We want to know the people coming in to buy our beer,” said White, who serves as Wolf Hollow’s brewmaster. “We can respond to their needs and brew the beers they want.”
Bednarek and White began mulling the concept of starting a small local brewery while kicking back a couple of home brews together on a front porch nearly three years ago. Though both know their way around a brewing operation; White had the formal training in the craft and was already working for a microbrewery in Lake George.
In starting Wolf Hollow, White wanted to bring brewing to an even more refined level. He wants his customers to taste the subtle nuances and flavors of his beer that would get lost if it were produced on a large scale.
“When you get to a certain level, you either have to go big or die out,” he said.
That shouldn’t be an issue with Wolf Hollow though. Part of the start-up company’s business model is based on maintaining a core group of customers dedicated to buying their beer.
Paid members of the Wolfpack get a growler, a Wolf Hollow T-shirt and significant discounts on beer. The partners very quickly sold out of the 60 memberships they took on to start and are already on a waiting list.
Of course, getting a nanobrewery together wasn’t easy or inexpensive. The partners invested roughly $15,000 into the business themselves, along with another $20,000 in start-up funds from a variety of contributors.
Wolf Hollow also needed to petition for a change to the town’s zoning laws to sell their beer from the grange. Last year, the town adopted a new use for its rural residential and agricultural zones, which allow small operations like the brewery to be established.
“And this is the perfect place for a business like this,” said Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle during the grand opening Monday.
The brewery is a labor of love for White and Bednarek, both of whom have other jobs. Bednarek is principal of Scotia-Glenville High School, while White serves as the education director at the Reformed Church in West Glenville.
White brews at the grange twice a week, a process that usually takes him from the pre-dawn hours until sometime in the afternoon. Each session usually nets him about 26 gallons of product, which is stowed in a carefuly monitored temperature-controlled room in the basement of the hall.
The flagship beers produced by the company all speak to its roots in rural West Glenville. The India pale ale is dubbed “District 6” after the West Glenville Fire Company and the amber after the company itself.
“Our motto is ‘Your beer brewed here,’ ” said Bednarek. “We want to brew for our friends and neighbors.”