When it came to choosing a hobby to explore with avid interest, Jason Spurrell picked homebrewing. That avocation—making beer at home—has grown to be a business for the Jackson Township resident and his wife, Amanda. At a store called Final Gravity Home Brew, a shop they opened earlier this year at 4255 Portage Street NW in Portage Square plaza, the Spurrells sell the grain and hops needed to brew beer, as well as all the equipment necessary for home brewing.
The brewery has grown a good bit since starting on Labor Day in 2014. We went from a glorified homebrew setup that could brew about 10 gallons of beer at a time and brewing on that three times a day, four to five days a week, to installing our current brewery which is a Deutsche Beverage Technology 15-barrel system.
My girlfriend introduced me to homebrewing in 2009, and I have been playing with the idea of starting a brewing company for several years. I decided to start the long journey in 2014 and started working with SCORE in Cincinnati. In 2016, I decided to move, as I felt that there was a better opportunity to expand the independent craft brew market in Canton.
Shale Brewing Co. started out of a passion for easy drinking brews shared by co-workers who started homebrewing together. That passion grew to starting a nano-scale brewery turning out batches of Roughneck Red one keg at a time. As demand grew, it was clear bigger equipment was needed to keep up. Partnering with a local brewery to produce some larger batches, Shale began the work of building out its production facility.
Royal Docks Brewing Co. was founded in 2014 and opened its taproom, brewery and kitchen in Jackson Township in September 2015. In 2016, it began distributing beer on draft, and in May 2017, RDB became the first Stark County brewery to release beer in cans—Tanglefoot IPA, Pendragon RareWit and Yardarm IPA.
Before 2014 when Canton Brewing Co. came back to life, Canton was the second largest city in Ohio without a brewery. The space on Third Street and Market N is based on the history of the five breweries that were in Canton before Prohibition. They drank Canton Brewing Co. beer the night professional football was founded in Canton.
Maize Valley Brewery is one of about 244 craft breweries in Ohio, according to the Ohio Craft Brewers Association. The brewery, coming on the heels of a successful winery, opened Labor Day weekend 2014. Brewmaster Jake Turner has been at the helm from the start.
I first met John and Adriana Bikis in January at their home. Sitting across from them in the dining room, we sampled experimental brews, chatted about the region of London that served as the creative catalyst for the brewery and discussed the strategic crossroads in which they found themselves. To be a brewery, or to be a brewpub? That was the question.