Brewery taps into expansion
A brewery in the region has begun a long-needed expansion.
Paw Paw Brewing Co. has needed to scale up its pub for nearly three years, co-founder Ben Fleckenstein said.
Now, thanks to a trailhead project and the foresight of the Village of Paw Paw — and a hoard of other players — the brewery is getting that chance.
“The basic clues were there three years ago,” Fleckenstein said. “People would come in and leave, because it was too packed, too loud. We were basically leaving money on the table.”
The new building is a former winery and canning facility, but has been vacant for large parts of the last 60-plus years.
At 145 Industrial Ave. in Paw Paw, the 22,000-square-foot building sits on the trailhead of a new 10.7-mile trail that will connect Paw Paw to Lawrence. Later phases of the trail could connect to Hartford and South Haven.
Fleckenstein said the village came specifically to Paw Paw Brewing for the building at the trailhead.
Paw Paw Brewing currently has two facilities, one is a 1,000-square-foot pub at 929 E. Michigan Ave. The other is a roughly 10,000-square-foot facility for brewing.
The brewery expects to make about 2,700 barrels next year, Fleckenstein said. Brewing will not be moved, and that facility is across the street from the new pub.
The pub is where the strain has been and would continue to be.
“We’ve been needing to make a move,” Fleckenstein said. “It was do or die. People were at the ropes.”
Fleckenstein didn’t share the financial details of the investment, but said because seemingly everyone in town was on board making it work, the brewery “got a really good deal on it.”
He said the brewery hopes to be in the space by about this time next year, but currently it’s basically a box with no water, electricity or other utilities.
Because the neighboring property was polluted in the 1970s and 1980s, the project is a brownfield redevelopment site and will receive financial relief in the years to come.
More than 15,000 square feet of the building will be sectioned off, used as storage and can be expanded into later. About 4,500 square feet of the space will be used to make up the new pub.
Fleckenstein said the increase in space will allow for much more than the old pub, including a restaurant with menu items such as pizzas and appetizers.
He said now the brewery, village and other developers are working together on roughly 34 acres in the area to make it a cool place.
“We’ve jumped in with no reservations, and without the village, this wouldn’t be possible,” Fleckenstein said. “We really want to play a bigger role in community connection, and this gives us the opportunity.
“This move is about home base.”