BRISTOL, Va. – BFW, Bristol Helle Raiser, Double Loco, Piedmont Pilsner, Redneck Amber and Sunset IPA are names of the initial offerings of the new Bristol Brewery.
Beginning this afternoon, the downtown’s first craft brewery will open its doors in the former Piedmont Avenue bus station. Owner Ken Monyak won a Believe in Bristol contest in 2013 and used the $5,000 grant as seed money to begin a “long” journey toward opening his own business.
“I’m very fortunate. Entering this contest and winning this contest has led me to turn my passionate hobby into my livelihood. Not a lot of folks can say they’ve been able to do that,” Monyak said Thursday. “I’m proud of the fact I’ve been able to take this entrepreneur’s contest and really turn it into something that makes me happy. And it’s something good for the city.”
A former safety director a W-L Construction, Monyak has been brewing small batches of beer at home but the 3,200-square-foot former bus station now boasts a series of large stainless steel tanks that comprise a 10-barrel combination brewing system capable of producing hundreds of gallons.
“People ask me about what led me to get started. I was a home brewer for many years. It was my passion. It’s what I did in the evening. I loved to brew beer and give out and see people’s reactions – good or bad. Folks are critical but I can take it.”
Six different types of beer will be on the menu in the opening weeks, but Monyak said patrons can expect that lineup to grow and evolve.
“We have a mix of ales and lagers. In styles, we have everything from an American light up to a porter – which is darker,” Monyak said. “We also have some light alcohol content beers and some with higher gravity, which is more alcohol,” Monyak said. “We’ll add our porter, our bock and our lager – both of those are darker beers. We’re starting out with lighter beers for summer time. We’ll also do Belgians, stouts, a roasted pumpkin and ginger porter. And we’ll experiment. Being a brewer is like being a chef so we’ll try different flavors. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.”
The project was announced a year ago, but a series of events delayed the opening until now. The business will open with eight employees but Monyak said he expects that will quickly rise.
Bristol Brewery is scheduled to be open from 3-11 p.m., Friday and noon-11 p.m., on Saturday. It will be closed Sunday then begin a regular schedule of operating next week from Wednesday through Sunday.
He also plans to have a food truck onsite this weekend and live music next weekend. In addition to space inside, the business also has seating in a large outdoor patio area.
“The partnership with the city – both the Believe in Bristol folks and the city officials – I think that whole culmination of events is going to be a really good addition to the city,” Monyak said. “I really love what I do and I’m really happy the city partnered with me to get this done.”