By Polly Lynn
PLYMOUTH — A new brewpub will be opening mid-December in the Salt Ash Inn in Plymouth, Vt., owners Paul Kowalski and Tad Dedrick recently announced. Five Corners Pub & Brewhouse has started brewing small-batch microbrews for its anticipated public opening date of Dec. 18.
Kowalski and Dedrick share a passion for tasting, talking about, and brewing beer. For several years the two were separately planning to open a brewpub or brewery-related business. Their individual searches for a good location brought them together and they decided to become partners in their shared endeavor.
“We can’t wait to share our love of beer with you,” said Kowalski.
Paul Kowalski lives with his wife and family in Plymouth, where they’ve made their home for over 20 years. Kowalski was one of the earliest Long Trail Brewery employees and has written about beer for 18 years, first as Vermont state editor for Yankee Brew News, and currently for The Mountain Times in Killington.
Tad Dedrick and his family live in nearby Brownsville, Vt. Dedrick is a skilled and creative longtime home brewer. He has a penchant for local foods as well as kitchen experience at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock.
Additionally, Ray McNeill, a close friend who owns McNeill’s Brewery in Brattleboro, has joined the team. He brings decades of experience in brewery and brewpub operation and access to critical purchasing channels. McNeill has owned and operated McNeill’s Brewery since 1992.
McNeill will also advise on permitting, brewhouse set-up and operation, and compliance.
“His participation shortens our learning curve and greatly increases our chances of success,” explained Kowalski.
Phase one is to open the pub and eatery in space leased at the Salt Ash Inn. While waiting for the federal and state permits needed to begin brewing operations, which can take several months, they’ll brew their beer recipes at McNeill’s Brewery in Brattleboro.
“We hope to be licensed to brew in spring of 2016,” Kowalski explained.
McNeill has agreed to share some of his brewing capacity with Kowalski and Dedrick so they can provide guests with their unique brews from the start. It will be “our recipes, brewed under our supervision here in Vermont by Vermonters, practically from opening day,” Kowalski said.
Five Corners Pub & Brewhouse will feature foods from local producers like Plymouth Cheese, Vermont Fresh Foods in Cavendish and Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester, to name just a few.
It will also play host to community groups “for spirited discussions,” and invite Vermont-based writers and personalities to speak on a range of topics, Kowalski added.
Phase two is to start brewing on-site. Kowalski and Dedrick have secured long-term use of a 10-gallon, rack-style brewing system which they’ll employ upon receiving federal and state brewing permits. (Think small-batch, fancy beers.)
Phase three is to upgrade from the 10-gallon system to a 5-barrel system.
As with all businesses, particularly food startups, Kowalski and Dedrick needed adequate capital to begin, so they launched a crowd-sourced funding campaign on Indiegogo to help finance the initial startup of the project and opening of the pub.
“Our start-up needs include: a POS system, getting adequate insurance in place, start-up inventories for food, beer, wine, and branded merchandise, and 2-4 weeks of working capital to cover payroll, utilities and cash flow,” Kowalski and Dedrick explained on Indiegogo. “If met, our campaign goal of $18,000 will start us off fairly well capitalized. At bare minimum, we believe we can open the doors, cook and serve with $10,000 to $12,000 raised. Funds raised beyond that will improve our ability to hire a great staff and improve efficiencies in many aspects of our operation – particularly in purchasing food and buying branded merchandise at larger quantities to reduce per unit cost.”
In addition to crowd-sourced funding on Indiegogo, the pub and brewery has also secured bridge financing from a private investor.
Kowalski and Dedrick are putting it all into this project, quitting other jobs and commitments to devote themselves to the pub and brewery.
“We willingly accept the risk we are taking by launching this pub and leaping into the economic unknown, and we are up to the challenges,” they wrote on Indiegogo.
The Salt Ash Inn is in the heart of historic Plymouth, birthplace of Calvin Coolidge. Given its location between the Killington, Okemo and Woodstock resort areas, Plymouth has great potential and “could be doing much better,” Kowalski said, adding that “a thriving brewpub could help raise the economic tide to attract more commercial and activity to our corner of Windsor County, and more community activity to our corners of Plymouth.”
What’s in a name, a place?
The name of the new establishment, Five Corners Pub & Brewhouse, comes from the historic Plymouth Five Corners, a quiet agricultural village of the town, where gold was discovered in 1858, triggering a gold rush in Plymouth that lasted for four years. Nods to Plymouth’s history will be seen in some of their beer names and also on the menu.
In addition to “helping two decent family guys who want to launch a business… lift the economy and spirits of our neighborhood, you will be helping to create a Third Place,” Kowalski explained on Indiegogo. “A Third Place” as defined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg is a place existing outside of home (first place) and workplace (second place) where members of a community gather to spend time. “Third places are anchors of community life. They facilitate and foster broader, more creative social interaction,” he added. Characteristics of a third place include being affordable, offering food and drink, being highly accessible, involving regulars, being welcoming and comfortable, and being a place to meet new and old friends, Kowalski explained.
Recent times have seen a decrease in Plymouth’s available “third places,” with the closure of the elementary school, the country store, and the River Tavern at Hawk. Yet neither the year-round population nor the huge bed-base of local vacation homes have decreased, and the number of families with school-aged children is climbing, Kowalski stated. “There is a need and desire for the type of third place that we hope to create,” he said.
For more information visit www.saltashinnvt.com. To contribute to their crowd-sourced funding, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/five-corners-pub-brewhouse.