by Mark Tichenor
Every homebrewer dreams, at some point or another, of going into business brewing their own beer, but most don’t have the capability to pull it off. In launching Knucklehead Brewing, longtime homebrewing buddies Len Dummer and George Cline show a rare affinity for both the business and brewing aspects of taking their hobby professional.
Dummer is outspoken about his beliefs, and refreshingly candid. “We have a passion for beer, a love of beer, but the number one reason we opened the brewery is to make money. We’re a family business, the Cline family and the Dummer family. Anyone behind the bar at any given time is family.” The brewhouse is as local as possible, sourcing furniture, fixtures and equipment from Webster, Monroe County, and the rest of the USA.
Originally planning for a 15 barrel brewhouse, Dummer and Cline made the decision to scale back after having difficulty finding backers, and wound up going with a 5 barrel system instead. It was a shrewd decision that ultimately enabled them to open for business free of the obligations or external stresses that come from having to please investors.“This place literally fell in our lap” Dummer says. We’re both Christian families, the Lord put it in front of us.”
That place would be the former Seitz’s Grocery Store on the corner of Ridge and Bay Roads, in Webster. The building has a colorful history, having served as a local general store, a restaurant, and, allegedly, a house of ill repute. After a thorough renovation, it’s now a brewhouse and expansive taproom, easily able to handle a crowd.
“We consciously opened the business wanting to be local,” Dummer continues.” I can tell you, everything in this building we purchased, except for a couple of iPods
Knucklehead primarily brews high alcohol ales, not shying away from intoxicative potential, but also not resorting to gimmick ingredients or novelty styles. They are simple, well-formulated brews that deliver balance and taste with no flaws or off-flavors. Out of their current range, there is not a single beer that should not be readily recommended.
“We don’t make light beers. We make the beers we like,” Dummer explains. “Will we ever make a rice beer? Probably not.”
Currently, Knucklehead is pouring Kick-It IPA, a chunky citrusy, resinous brew, 100% of the proceeds of which go to cancer research. “The Kick-It is my baby,” Dummer explains. “Both our families have been impacted by cancer, and we said, if we ever opened a microwbrewery, wouldn’t it be great to give it away?”
As new as the brewery is, Knucklehead is already pursuing growth. Their kegs are beginning to show up in area pubs, just a couple for now, but the opportunity is vast. “Our five-year plan is to go large. We’d like to have a large system, one that’s not so labor intensive. Brewing is a young man’s game.”
In other beers
The Rochester Taproom is no more. Owner Joe McBane sold the popular Corn Hill Landing spot and will focus on his principal pub, The Tap and Mallet. The space will reopen as The West Edge Restaurant and Lounge. It is to be hoped that the new ownership will respect her patrons’ love for craft beer, and keep it flowing in the new establishment.
Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at beercraft.wordpress.com. Find him on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.