HECTOR, N.Y. — The Lucky Hare Brewing Company started with the fascination of a nearly 100-year-old barn in Hector.
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“It was screaming, ‘Put a brewery in front of me and make really great beer,’” said co-founder Ian Conboy.
The former marine biologist said he never thought he’d open a brewery and the idea literally snowballed after finding the barn at 6085 Beckhorn Road.
He said he was driving with his mom, Sue Thiel, and stepfather, Richard Thiel, when they saw it up for sale in February 2013. He said he and his stepfather were already making beer for themselves and became taken by the thought of sharing their love for brews with others.
They purchased the barn that October and the co-founders have spent nearly two years prepping the site and perfecting their craft.
“We wanted to do it right, so we took our time instead of just rushing and getting it out there,” he said of the nano-brewery.
The company has three barrels, which each make 31 gallons of beer, and is averaging making about 186 gallons of beer a month.
Conboy said the brewery is making four styles of beer for now: indian pale ale, milk stout, extra special bitter and saison.
He said he wants to make different styles of beer for people to enjoy, but is most excited about the IPA.
“I think that that style is like the vanilla ice cream for a creamery. You get judged on that. If you can’t make good vanilla ice cream I don’t think you could make anything else,” he said.
To go along with the beer, Conboy said Ricky Emberley — Co-founder, assistant brewer and chef — will be cooking up food that includes smoked meat and vegetables. Emberley does private catering and cooking throughout Ithaca, but the two have been friends for years.
“I don’t like to tell him that we can’t do it without him,” Conboy said, but added that it’s true.
Emberley’s sample menus so far include rabbit and pork sausage braised in ale with homemade toppings; citrus braised pork shoulder served on a sweet roll; and vegetarian potato and paneer dumplings served in creamy tomato sauce, among other things.
The brewery is hosting its grand opening from 2 to 6 p.m. Aug. 22 and can accommodate about 150 people. The admission to get in is $5, which includes a commemorative cup and the first pint of beer. Conboy said people should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
“I’m most excited for people to try the beer and I’m most afraid of people trying the beer because you open yourself up to people jugging you on what you do on a pint-by-pint basis,” he said.
He said the company plans to eventually sell beer to bars at least in Ithaca, Trumansburg, Hector and Watkins Glen, but said it’s too soon to name specific bars that have expressed interest in stocking the brews.
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