Uncap your growlers! The long-awaited Chelsea Alehouse Brewery officially opened its doors next to the Clocktower Complex in downtown Chelsea on Thursday.
The brewery is the brainchild of Chris and Aubrey Martinson, longtime residents of Grass Lake, who said they wanted to open a business to cater to the beer connoisseurs underserved in the local community.
"We heard people were looking for a place that had a casual atmosphere, that wasn't fine dining, and had good beer," Aubrey Martinson said.
Chris Martinson, a home brewer for almost a decade, decided to put his skills to the test, and after planning for more than three years, quit his day job in the biotech field last spring, found five silent business partners, and took out a loan in order to launch the business.
Martinson leased the 4,000-square-foot building adjacent to the Chelsea Clocktower that served as the former warehouse of the Chelsea Teddy Bear Company. After extensive renovations — which included a pub area with seating for 75, an outdoor seating area and beer garden, dart games, an old fashioned pinball machine, and a wooden bar made from repurposed school bleachers — the pub opened to a packed house this week.
"It's a huge step for us, but so far, things are going well," he said.
The pub currently serves three types of beer — a porter, IPA, and white ale — but Martinson said he plans to have 10 different ales on tap, which will be rotated seasonally once the brewery's operations are at capacity.
"It's a matter of making sure the system is working properly before we are able to keg the beer we have now and begin to brew others," he said. "Once we have eight to 10 beers on tap, we'll be brewing twice a week."
Martinson said he will also bottle beers and begin selling his own soda as well.
The Alehouse currently has four serving tanks, and uses a seven-barrel brewing system, all of which can be viewed from behind a plate glass window while customers enjoy their drinks, Aubrey Martinson said.
She said in addition to beer, a small kitchen will produce light fare such as sandwiches, soups and appetizers, which patrons can order at the bar.
"By serving food pub-style, people aren't anchored to their chairs and can get up and mingle with other patrons," she said. "The whole idea is to give this place a sense of community."
The pub will also eventually include an area to add live music once warmer weather permits, Aubrey said.
Public interest in the pub has been strong, Chris said. The Alehouse sold more than 800 annual memberships through its "Founders Club" to residents in Ann Arbor, Dexter and Manchester prior to opening. Martinson said the club membership is closed currently, however he plans to open it up again in 2014.
The Chelsea Alehouse is currently open from 3 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays; and 3 to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. A grand opening event will be scheduled later this year.
For more information, visit http://www.chelseaalehouse.com/, or call 734-433-5500.