Add Earlybird Brewing to the long and growing list of Cleveland breweries. About a year in the planning, the small brewery is on schedule to open late summer or early autumn near the border of Ohio City and Stockyards neighborhoods.
Owner Pedro Sarsama says that had the legislation not recently changed, which dramatically lowered the financial threshold of opening a brewery, he likely never would have gotten this far.
"It would have been too cost prohibitive to open a nano brewery like mine," he says. "I would not have considered it had the legislation not been eased up."
As he stated, his plan is to start small — very small, with just a 1.5 barrel system, which is being fabricated by Rust Belt Welding.
"My goal is to be a small brewery that essentially serves the neighborhood," he notes. "I'm not interested in attracting people from all over the region."
Fittingly, Earlybird is going into the former home of the Spang Baking Co. (2701 Barber Ave.), a local bread company. Beer is often referred to as "liquid bread."
"Baking bread is actually what got me into brewing beer," Sarsama says. "I come from a family of bakers."
Sarsama says that drinkers can look forward to English-style ales, brewed and served on premises in a small taproom. He also will distribute to local bars and restaurants.
"I appreciated hops, but I'm not a hophead. You'll probably see a lot of malt-forward beers."
Sarsama adds that he's been thrilled at the early response he's been getting from neighbors and colleagues.
"One of the things I love about brewing in Cleveland is the level of collaboration between brewers," he says.