Saucy Brew Works' pint glass runneth over in Ohio City, so they're expanding to Independence

More than two years after opening Saucy Brew Works in Hingetown’s Steelman Building, Brent Zimmerman and Eric Anderson are brewing again—this time in Independence.

Co-owners Zimmerman and Anderson, director of brewing operations, will break ground on the new Saucy Brew Works location on Rockside Woods Boulevard, next door to the upcoming Topgolf, in the upcoming weeks. They plan to open the doors by fall 2020, Zimmerman says. The two are also preparing a location in Columbus.

Business has been booming in Ohio City's Hingetown since they opened in July 2017 at 2885 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, Zimmerman says. Saucy Brew Works brews 16,000 barrels annually there, with 600 to 700 distribution accounts, and they’ve won both Best Pizza and Best Brewery awards.

Opening an Independence location will allow them to meet demand and introduce their New Haven-style pizza and beer to a larger audience.

“Business is up 25% this year, and production is up a couple hundred percent,” Zimmerman says. “At the production facility downtown, we’re beginning to run out of space. We love this opportunity and location.”

The $17.5 million project will allow the brewery to brew nearly 60,000 barrels, with the capability of expanding.

The location was a main driver for the choice of Independence. “There are 111 million cars a year that drive by the site,” Zimmerman says. “It’s the highest traffic spot in Ohio.” Being next door to Topgolf doesn’t hurt either, he says. “If it’s not the best location, it’s one of the best in Ohio,” he says. “I’m a big believer in Topgolf’s model, so being next to them as an entertainment option [is ideal]. And there’s a hotel right next door.”

Designed by Cleveland architect David Maison of Maison A&D Architecture and Design, and built by Independence-based DiGeronimo Companies, the 26,000-square-foot steel building will have a glass façade from the ground up. “It will have a California-like feeling brewery in Cleveland,” Zimmerman says, adding that he’s visited breweries around the world. “It’s really grandiose and cool. We’re not interested in generic, four-wall boxes. This has architectural significance, and we have good beer.”

While they kept the industrial feel of the former factory and warehouse for water treatment facility parts in their Hingetown location, Anderson describes the Independence site’s atmosphere as more of an “industrial ski lodge.” Building a new space rather than converting a former warehouse allows them more freedom, he says. “We won’t have the constraints of conforming to an existing building with its issues.”

About 11,000 square feet will be used for production space, “where the beer is actually made,” and the remainder will serve as the brewpub and multiple event spaces—with one space large enough for weddings, Zimmerman says.

Outside, Saucy Brew Works will have a 16,000-square-foot patio with a full bar, natural gas heating systems, and a fireplace. They will have a playground area for kids, as well as walking paths around the building, Zimmerman says.

“I have two small kids myself, so this is an opportunity to go enjoy some food and have a beer or two,” he says. “The kids can play on the playground by themselves or meet some friends.”

Zimmerman says a “huge” digital screen on the patio will display Browns games and children’s movies.

Twenty beers will be on tap, including their popular IPAs and their top-selling beer—Habituale Kolsch style golden ale, drawn using the state-of-the-art BrauKon system. The pizza—with thick crust, edge-to-edge sauce, and choose-your-own toppings—will be served made-to-order. They will employ food runners at the Independence building because of its larger size, Anderson says.

They plan to follow their ritual visit to Germany to “bless the BrauKon” before they open the doors, Zimmerman says. “It’s a lot of fun to meet everyone who did the work,” he says.

Saucy Brew Works Independence will employ about 60 full-time staff members. Per company policy, all employees receive health insurance benefits and three weeks of vacation a year. “We don’t want to lose employees; we want to retain employees,” says Zimmerman. “We keep the good people around, and we have a ton of employees who have been here from day one and are still here.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.