While Jesse Sensenig and his wife, Amanda, were living in Colorado, they were immersed in and impressed with the culture – the beer culture, that is.
There was a huge diversity in breweries and beer styles, and lots of people were homebrewing. According to Sensenig, “there was this vibe of energy going on everywhere.” Customer service was a big part of this vibe, and everyone involved seemed to love what they were doing.
Now, 10 years later, Sensenig plans to bring that same feeling to Goshen with Goshen Brewing Co. Over the years of visiting family in Goshen, he fell in love with the town. “The development and downtown activity was starting to have much of the same vibe that we felt in Colorado,” he told me. “I decided that Goshen would be a great place for a brewery.”
Sensenig started homebrewing in Colorado with friends and continued when he and Amanda moved to the Toledo area. While there, he connected with Black Swamp Brewing and would help on brew days to continue his brewing experience.
About three years ago, the city of Goshen began accepting proposals for the old NIPSCO building on the Mill Race. Sensenig submitted a proposal for his brewery. Although he was passed up during the first round after the initial accepted proposal fell through, he got a second chance. This time he had completed more research and had a better plan.
The city accepted.
From the beginning, Sensenig has felt strongly about the location and character of the building. It is just a few blocks from downtown, with close proximity to the farmer’s market and the Mill Race Trail. An avid biker himself, he likes the fact that customers will be able to easily walk or bike to the brewery.
Many of the industrial characteristics of the building, such as exposed metal beams and brick walls, will be kept. New additions, such as metal siding and roofing on the outside, will complement this feeling. However, the demolition and remodeling has not been a small project.
Pretty much everything a brewery and restaurant would need was missing from the building. This made for a lot of planning and architectural work before they could even begin. Sensenig said they have been essentially working with a very expensive shell and creating everything new on the inside.
Demolition began in August of this year, and I am amazed at the progress each time I stop by. Concrete floors had to be removed and new ones put into place.
Bathrooms were added, as well as water and sewer hookup. And of course, a whole new kitchen will need to be built. Much of the brewing equipment has been purchased and is already on site, and the staff has been busy acquiring new equipment for the kitchen.
At this point, the building is pretty much roughly framed out inside. Much of the wiring is done, and ceiling-mounted electric heaters have been installed, but there is lots of work ahead before opening day.
There is a slight chance the brewhouse might be up and running in January, which is good news for Sensenig. He continues brewing on his small system at home, working on recipes he hopes to bring to the brewery. But just multiplying your ingredients in a recipe to make a bigger batch is not as easy as it sounds. Sensenig said bigger professional systems are much more efficient, so in order to get a beer to taste the same, different calculations need to be made, and most often recipes have to be tweaked. His plan is to be able to brew on his big system for a while before he opens the brewery.
The pub will seat 65 people, with some standing room and additional seating on the patio in warmer weather. Goshen Brewing Co. will definitely be a family-friendly environment, which will be a great addition to the community. And of course, Sensenig will emphasize the fun, friendly atmosphere he experienced in Colorado.
Some of the key positions have been filled, such as Jesse Shoemaker and Justin Ramer in the kitchen; Jason Heatwole as the house manager — or as he is calling himself, the “fun conductor”; and Vicki Graber, who will help with brewing and other parts of the business. They may begin looking to hire more staff as early as January.
There is no plan for TVs in the pub at this point, but there will be plenty of other fun things. Sensenig hopes to brew some collaborative brews with other breweries, as well as brew lots of barrel-aged beers.
You can expect a large variety of beers, including some I have had the opportunity to enjoy: Old Soul (Wee heavy Scotch Ale, 8.6 percent ABV), Imperial Red Ale, Tailwind (American Pale Ale, 5 percent ABV), Pumpkin Sour Brown and Bourbon Black Raspberry Stout (7 percent ABV). There will be beer and food pairings, firkins (a small barrel of beer in which the beer is naturally fermented and carbonated, and also from which it is served), and outside events such as bike-in movies.
Sensenig is very happy to be opening his brewery in Goshen. He said the support they have received from the community has been just amazing. Their very successful Indiegogo campaign raised over $30,000.
At the December Goshen First Friday, tours of the building were available, and a good crowd showed up to see what was going on. I expect to see more events like this and hopefully sometime soon some revealing and tasting of some Goshen Brew Co. beers. You can check in with Goshen Brewing Co. on its Facebook page.