Just a mere hour and change from Columbus proper is a building in Zanesville, Ohio, that by day, almost looks deserted. However, once 4 p.m. rolls around during the week or 3 p.m. on Saturdays, Weasel Boy Brewing Company comes alive.
Weasel Boy is the collective effort of Jay and Lori Wince, a local couple that turned their love of craft beer into a successful and thriving business. Jay began homebrewing in the mid-90s, with his wife Lori getting more and more invested throughout the following decade. After homebrewing for several years, Jay and Lori came up with a plan to open their own brewery in Zanesville. However, at the time this idea was conceived, the central Ohio region was not exactly a microbrew mecca. The couple put the idea aside until 2005 when they decided the area was ready for a pub that offered a different kind of beer-drinking experience.
In addition to its microbrewed beer, Weasel Boy is also focused on offering its patrons great live music and an alternative to the sports bar scene that is often so prevalent in smaller communities. Opened in 2006, this formula has proven successful as Weasel Boy pulls in crowds every weekend. While the atmosphere is enticing, so is the wide selection of craft beer brewed on site.
The founders of Weasel Boy strive to introduce their patrons to styles and flavors that "have been unavailable for them to experience locally for almost 100 years," according to Jay.
"In our opinion, it's a fact that the product is locally produced and of the highest quality that makes our beer special."
Year-round, craft beer connoisseurs can enjoy Brown Stoat Stout, Dancing Ferret IPA, River Mink Mild Brown Ale and White Weasel Wheat Ale, as well as their two most popular offerings, Ornery Otter Blonde Ale and Plaid Ferret Scottish Ale. They also have a great selection of seasonal microbrews that include Das Frettchen Oktoberfest and two-time Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medal winner, Anastasia Russian Imperial Stout.
The struggle to keep up with the demand is one the Weasel Boy team is happy to attempt. In 2012, they produced more than 450 barrels and found that many of their offerings are quick to sell out. For the upcoming year, Jay said they are working on releasing a wheat beer-based IPA, as well as a smoked porter that will be bourbon barrel aged. But that's just the beginning for what they have planned for 2013.
"We'll continue to mix in our seasonal and rotational beers as usual, and of course do our popular summer fruit beers as well," Jay explained. "Typically our own taste inspires us to create new beers, but also we watch trends in the craft industry to see if we see something that we are interested in doing. We see a lot of great ideas at GABF in Denver every year. It is always thought-provoking."
While this year's production is in the works, the future is always in any microbrewery-owners mind. For Jay and Lori, the initial years of Weasel Boy has flown by. For the foreseeable future, they hope to increase traffic and make Weasel Boy a hot destination for the craft beer fanatic. Expanding their reach into the Columbus market is also high on their priority list. One thing they don't see in their future is bottling or canning their creations.
"That is just not an avenue we see ourselves going down," Jay said. "We feel that draft best represents us and that's where we'll focus for now."
If you haven't already tried Weasel Boy's brews at some of the local Columbus watering holes and can't make it out to Zanesville, look for them at the 8th Annual AleFest being held on Saturday, February 2nd at the Aladdin Shrine Center.