Keeping it classy at 515 Brewing Co.4/24/2013
They’re not the Brady Bunch, per se, but the way the 515 Brewing Company was formed was a similar joining of families.
Two women became friends while working together. They had lot in common, hence the friendship that formed. One of those commonalities was their husbands. Both men shared the hobby of home-brewing beer. Both also had a best buddy who shared in his hobby. So when the two ladies got their men together, and the two men got their buddies together, a destined four-some — Brandon Criger, Bailey Forrest, Dave Ropte and Ryan Rost — was created. They pooled their tastes, experience and resources to form a cohesive brewing endeavor that eventually would be named 515 Brewing Company, which opened its doors in a vacant former bar-and-grill in Clive last month.
The new brewery offers new house flavors that rotate so frequently that 515 is a perfect place for the fickle beer-lover or for people who like a lot of diversity, variety and change for the palate. The chalkboard menu last week included cleverly-named flavors such as Stout of the Closet and the awkward-to-order Hopititis A, names that are “fun and memorable,” said Criger.
“The flavors always rotate, because we do a small batch of each one and add it to the tapper until it runs out,” Criger said. “So next time you come in, there will probably be three different beers on tap than there were last time.”
Because of that fluid system, 515 doesn’t have a list of “house beers” the way other breweries offer, and the selection is often filled out by guest beers from other local brewers, such as Peace Tree and Confluence. It’s a quaint operation that goes on in a small once-kitchen that is now the guys’ brewing area. The brew house is merely a back room where the flavors are created in three kettles, and the fermenter works its magic in a separate compartment-room behind viewing windows.
“Fermenters are like brewing real estate,” Criger said. “When we upgrade and get a new fermenter and a bigger brew kettle in the brew house, we’ll be able to add more taps. But we’ll still always have one guest tap at all times.”
When 515 digs its roots a little deeper, Criger said they plan to offer growlers as well as some live music gigs in the spacious tasting room, which encompasses several high tables, a long, L-shaped bar and lounge seating, as well as the uniquely refurbished bumper pool table.
For now patrons can order four five-ounce flights ($8.50) to taste-test that week’s flavors. When a favorite is decided, each offering is served in a different-shaped and -sized glass, which Criger said serves two functions:
“It helps the server know immediately which beer you had, and the shape of the glass can also help with the flavor of the beer and the smell. We also take into consideration the alcohol content,” so you don’t get a 9-12 percent alcohol-by-volume elixir in a disproportionately large glass.
This beer is for tasting and enjoying and conversing about, not for slamming toward a state of drunkenness. 515’s got class. CV515 Brewing Company 7700 University Ave., Clive (515) 661-4615 • 515brewing.com Hours: Thurs. 4-9 p.m., Fri. 4-11 p.m., Sat. 12-11 p.m., Sun. 12-5 p.m. Capacity: 60 seats, plus standing room. Entertainment: Comedy nights, Euker card tournaments, bumper pool, live music to come this summer.