After four years of preparation, a new brewery opened Wednesday on North Franklin Street.
Devil’s Club Brewing Co., a microbrewery owned and operated by three Juneau locals, officially opened its doors Wednesday evening. Co-owner Evan Wood thanked the community for its support. A Kickstarter campaign and private investment from local families made the business happen.
“We had a lot of help along the way from the community of Juneau, our landlords, our investors, our friends and family, and it’s finally all come to fruition,” Wood told the Empire while pouring beer for the business’ first customers. Passersby trickled in, eventually packing the taproom as they realized the business was finally open, its windows having long been covered by butcher paper.
“We are extremely excited to share what we’ve been working on with everyone else,” Wood added.
Wood and business partners Jake Ridle and Ryan Lindsay built the 2,000-square foot taproom and their four-barrel brew house in the 102-year-old Hellenthal Building, which had been vacant for years. The space wraps around Hearthside Books, with frontages on both Franklin and Front streets.
With history as a theater and a bank, the Hellenthal Building’s interior was an ambitious rebuild. Some old markings of the building’s history remain. The taproom, with high ceilings, exposed wood and a yellow cedar bar, still has the original wood planking on one wall. Small windows to the projector room, leftover from the building’s history as a theater, line a wall above the brewery’s entrance. Downstairs, an old bank vault has been converted into a storage space for scientific instruments used in the brewing process.
After years of working on the space and holding down a day job, Lindsay said it’ll be an odd transition from rebuilding the Hellenthal Building, a two-year process, to running the taproom.
“It’s been a long journey,” Lindsay said. “I don’t think us or the building owners quite knew what we were getting ourselves into. It started off with a small idea of renovation and it fully took off into one of the biggest projects we’ve ever seen.”
The “taproom-focused” brewery was four years in the making, Wood said. The partners were inspired by business models from the Lower 48, which showed them it was possible to brew a small amount of beer and still profit off keg sales and individual pints. Devil’s Club had two stouts, two India pale ales (IPAs), a wit, an apricot beer, a Saison and a blonde ale on tap Wednesday.
Their brewing system puts out about 136 gallons, or eight full-size kegs at once. The small output has its upsides.
“It does allow us to be really flexible. It allows us to try crazy things and mess up without huge financial consequences as well,” Wood said.
Ridle, Wood and Lindsay really knew their business would be a possibility when a successful Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign garnered the business more than $18,000 in less than a week, Wood said. Alaskans are drinking more Alaska-made beer than they used to, according to an Alaska Department of Revenue report.
“We saw some of the brewing scene that was happening in the Lower 48, with all these sort of taproom-focused breweries, small batch-focused places, and we thought that something like that in downtown Juneau could be a big hit and a huge asset to the community and scene downtown,” Wood said.
• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.