Last week, Notch Brewing founder Chris Lohring thought that he’d finally found a location where he could build his company’s first production facility.
Lohring, who launched Notch as a contract craft brand in 2010, had already visited a dozen properties in Salem, Mass., a coastal town located about 40 minutes north of Boston. He was negotiating lease agreements at three of those locations, but each time the deal fell through.
“If you talked to me last week, I would have said we’d have a brewery in nine months,” he said. “After this latest building fell through, it is looking like another year.”
Salem, a tourist destination with a vibrant arts scene, would be the perfect place for Notch to build its 10-barrel brewery and beer garden tasting room, said Lohring, who also resides in town.
“We’d be piggybacking on what already exists here,” he said. “But if you can’t find a space that works financially, you have to walk away.”
So Lohring, who plans to invest upwards of $500,000 in the project, said he’s now also considering locations in surrounding towns like Lynn, Beverly and Peabody.
A new production facility would allow Notch, which currently produces its beer under contract at Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, Mass., and Two Roads Brewing in Stratford, Conn., to brew a variety of new offerings, including a line of sour and wild beers. Lohring said he plans to finance the project with a combination of bank debt and private investments.
“The equipment costs will run about $300,000,” he said. “I’ll have a keg line and I plan on using a mobile canner.”
The facility itself wouldn’t increase Notch’s current production significantly, but it would allow the brand to have a “home.”
“As a brewer, people know I am honest about what I do, where I come from and my involvement,” he said. “But as Notch grows, consumers shouldn’t care about me. It should be about the beer and where it comes from.”
He plans on building a traditional, German-style biergarten, complete with communal seating and “large pours” of lager.
“I want to give people the experience of session beer,” he said. “It will be very in tune with what the session experience is in Czech Republic or Germany.”
That means no tipping, no tulip glasses and no waitresses.
“You go up to the window and get a beer,” he said. “The waitress doesn’t come to you. You gotta get off of your ass.”