Four Mile Brewing opens after 2 years
OLEAN — Commercial beer brewing has finally returned to Olean.
What does it look like?
A former brewery turned lumber storage facility, and later a kitchen and bath center, getting back to its original purpose. More than a year of renovations and plenty of sweat equity. It’s a 15-barrel brew house boasting giant, stainless steel fermenters, storage tanks and miles of hoses. Four beers are always on tap. And, of course, patrons swigging suds.
But for Gregg Piechota, Jaye Beattie and Nicholas Bohdanowycz, opening Four Mile Brewing on East Greene Street is the realization of a dream.
“It’s a huge sigh of relief,” Piechota, who is also head brewer, said. “It’s been a long road to finally get here and be open. We got a lot of support from the community and local government. We couldn’t have done this without them.”
“It still feels very surreal,” Beattie said. “We feel very blessed that we can finally share our passion for craft beer with the community and we hope everyone will enjoy our beer as much as we do.”
“We’re all very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Bohdanowycz said. “This has been a tremendous experience and was a very ambitious process.”
Four Mile Brewing officially opens to the public today at 4 p.m.
The brewery had a private opening party on Saturday. The event, which featured samples of the brewery’s first batches of craft beer, was attended by many elected officials, investors and supporters.
“It was fantastic,” Beattie added. “To see everyone there enjoying our product was very touching.”
“For me, I was close to tears seeing everyone come together that day,” Bohdanowycz said. “The day before, we finally received our license from the state to serve alcohol. Once we got that, we had the beer ready to go and knew nothing can stop us now.”
Since then, a few hundred craft beer enthusiasts have visited the brewery.
“It’s been very busy,” Piechota said. “Like any new business, we’re working out some of the kinks but everything has been going well.”
For nearly 15 years, more than a century ago, Four Mile Brewing’s location was home to Olean Brewing Co.
The former brewery, which closed like many others during Prohibition, was considered one of the most advanced beer brewing operations of its time.
The facility was outfitted with machinery powered by electricity and gas — very uncommon in the early 1900s. The brewery also featured a bottling plant and could produce 80 tons of ice daily.
A 1907 edition of Olean’s Evening Herald noted the brewery only used “the best malt, the highest grade of hops and rice, and the purest of water and yeast” to produce “Olean Beer.”
At its peak, Olean Brewing Co. employed between 30 and 40 “skilled men” who worked under the supervision of brewmaster Conrad Haberstumpf and could produce 30,000 barrels of beer.
Renovations to the new brewery began in early 2014. Piechota, Beattie and Bohdanowycz worked side-by-side with Mel Faulkner, a private contractor, to ready the brewery, smashing century-old plaster off its walls and tearing down a drop ceiling. They also cleared out remnants left by its last occupants, which include a lumber company and a kitchen and bath store.
During its first year of operations, the brewery will likely produce 1,500 barrels of beer and always offer three styles of beer: a pale ale, an India pale ale (IPA) and a black IPA. Each variety is an original recipe Piechota developed. By the fifth year, Piechota hopes to offer additional one-offs, specialty beers made in limited quantities, and produce between 5,000 and 6,000 barrels of beer annually.
In addition to beer, the brewery serves deli-style sandwiches, salads and jumbo pretzels.
The Four Mile partners’ work on their venture is far from over.
In addition to brewing “lots of beer” this summer, they intend on establishing a presence at area food and beer distributors.
“You’ll see us at different bars and restaurants locally, and we’ll start to expand outwards from there,” Piechota said. “We really want to get our name out there to expand our brand.”
Beattie noted several area bars and restaurants will soon be pouring Four Mile Brewing beers at their establishments.
“Our beer will be on tap this Friday,” he said. “Next week, our beer will be at a few places up in Ellicottville. We’re moving, we have plenty of beer to sell.”
The trio will also continue to work on the brewery itself.
“We’ll be finishing a few things off, like our outdoor beer garden, and getting things ready so we can expand our hours,” Piechota said. “I don’t think we’ll ever be done working on the brewery.”
Four Mile gets canned: Microbrewery cans its products for retail sale
Almost 500 cases heading to stores across WNY
OLEAN — Since Four Mile Brewing opened in 2015, there’s been one market left virtually untapped — grabbing a six-pack at the store for home consumption.
On Tuesday, Four Mile completed the first canning of beer at the facility’s brewhouse. With the help of IronHeart Canning of Rochester’s mobile beer canning operation, the firm canned 30 barrels of its Allegheny IPA and Pale Ale, packaging just shy of 500 cases for distribution — around 12,000 cans.
“It’s a huge step,” said Jaye Beattie, vice president and sales manager. “These babies are going to eight counties.”
The brewery began operations in 2015, producing beers for distribution by tap at bars and other locations — legally referred to as on-premises consumption.
But that’s only a fraction of the beer market.
“On-premises (only) accounts for about 20 percent of the total opportunities out there,” Beattie said. “For some of the bigger firms, off-premises accounts for 75 percent of the business.
“I’m just excited by the idea that people can buy our cans and take it to a softball game,” he said. “The off-premises business is a large market, and there’s something nice about canning your beer … going to the store and buying a six-pack.”
Brewmaster Craig Clark added, “Not everybody can have a kegerator at home.”
“There’s people who have heard of us, but have never been here or to a bar, and they see it in a store they’ll pick it up,” he said.
Clark added canning will also be a solution for restaurants that want to serve Four Mile beverages but don’t have beer taps.
The process to can was relatively straight-forward, Clark said, adding the beer was already carbonated in kegs.
“All we had to do was hook it up and their machine did the rest,” Clark said, adding Four Mile employees also had to package up the finished product into cases. “It’s a pretty complicated machine.”
Pre-formed bare cans are fed into the machine, which automatically fills several cans at once with beer and then clamps on lids, wraps the cans in labels and pushes them out for packaging.
Beattie said that small batches will be the way to go while demand is built up.
“We’ll probably do the mobile canning for a while,” he said, as installing a canning system at the brewery carries a hefty price tag upward of $200,000.
The city recently announced it would like to invest in the growing business with funds courtesy of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s $10 million state grant. But Four Mile owners said they did not want to comment on the proposal until they have more details.
For now, they are focused on their own business plans.
“That’s long-term, like 10 years,” Beattie said. “Long-term dream? There’ll be another brewhouse out there, a 60-barrel brewhouse.”
Although the dream may be far-off, there seems to be signs the business could head that way. The firm produced about 800 barrels of beer in 2015, a figure that has kept on growing.
“We did 1,600 last year,” Beattie said, adding the firm is on track to produce 2,300 barrels this year. “We’re on a good pace. I feel like we’re growing at a sustainable rate. We haven’t sacrificed the quality of the beer.
“There’s also been 10 new breweries open up, so we’re still staying relevant in the face of growing competition,” he said. “Recently, we’ve expanded into Rochester, Syracuse, Pennsylvania right across the border … When we moved into Buffalo, it was slow going, but we’ve build up our reputation. Four Mile is moving in a lot of directions.”
Employment has also expanded, officials said, with around 15 when the brewery and restaurant opened to 20 today.
Locally, the six-packs will be available in many stores, like beverage distributors as well as Park n’ Shop and Ried’s Food Barn. The firm is also working to get the beer in the craft brew sections at Wegmans supermarkets in Niagara, Erie and Chautauqua counties. All told, the cans will head to stores in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties.
But the brewpub at the company’s headquarters is still serving up suds, Beattie said, adding the property has turned into something of a microbrew tourist attraction.
“They come into Olean off of (Interstate) 86, and they wouldn’t have stopped in Olean if it wasn’t for us — they’ve said as much,” he said, adding the firm points those visitors to other city businesses to help the rest of the economy. “We’ve been drawing people from Erie and Buffalo and Pittsburgh.”
Four Mile Brewing cuts taproom hours
Plans to focus on distribution
Four Mile hopes DRI can brew up progress
OLEAN — Olean’s first brewery in almost a century has been able to do a lot in a short time.
Reactivate old warehouses off of North Union Street? Check. Draw in tourists with their production? Check. Create service and manufacturing jobs? Check.
In short, they started doing what the $10 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative is hoping to kindle even before the grant was awarded to the city in September.
The firm, which began operating out of the East Greene Street location in 2015, began with limited production. Around 850 barrels were churned out that first year.
But production has been steadily growing.
“This year, we’re looking to do 2,000 to 2,500,” said Jaye Beattie, vice president and sales manager. “The future’s definitely bright.”
Production has more than doubled in three years, and the firm hit a milestone in early October when the firm canned its first beers — the first locally-produced canned beer. Ever.
With the help of IronHeart Canning of Rochester’s mobile beer canning operation, the firm canned 30 barrels of its Allegheny IPA and Pale Ale, packaging just shy of 500 cases for distribution — around 12,000 cans — in the first run.
The response was huge and immediate, said Jaye Beattie, vice president and sales manager.
“The demand is there — we’re getting pressure from our distributors all the time,” Beattie said. “We’ve been doing 500 cases every five weeks.”
The beer currently goes across an eight-county area. Wegman’s stores in Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties keep it in stock, while local retailers find space on the shelves for it.
And more retailers want in.
Tops Friendly Markets would like to carry it in every Western New York location, Beattie said, and convenience store chain NOCO, which operates more than 30 locations, is also interested.
“Wegmans wants us for all their stores across the state, but we can’t facilitate that yet,” Beattie said.
Demand also keeps piling up for kegs to put on tap in the region’s bars. An aggressive campaign of special events and marketing in Buffalo and Rochester have helped, he said, with Olean natives working for the firm in those cities.
“They feel a sense of pride having it be from Olean, and I feel it’s transferring over” in their work, Beattie said.
Hoping to keep growing, the firm recently put in a new 30-barrel fermenting tank and a 30-barrel bright tank, which is used to carbonate the beer before putting in kegs. They’ve also hired on an assistant brewmaster to aid Craig Clark in leading the brewing process.
But relying on a mobile canning rig won’t cut it forever.
By having a canning operation established in Olean, Beattie said the firm will be able to can as beer production and demand require. It should even allow some new hires.
“That would help us hire up to two, three more full-time positions,” Beattie said, adding he hopes the state sees the value of the investment. “They want to see more jobs.”
Of note, Beattie said, is the Four Mile project is the only manufacturing-related DRI project in Olean’s strategic investment plan.
In all, Four Mile Brewing is seeking $411,250 in aid for the $822,500 project, according to figures from the local planning committee which vetted Olean’s projects.
The project includes a canning line, which is expected to run in the vicinity of $250,000.
Increasing the reach of cans will also benefit downtown Olean, Beattie said, as the brewery will continue its restaurant operations — which have turned into a tourist draw.
“We’re getting a lot more people coming in from out of the community,” he said. “They buy a six-pack at the store, and it’s increasing the out of town traffic.”
Those people, he said, also shop and spend the night at Olean businesses, increasing the area’s tax revenues and business profits.
Two more 45-barrel fermenters are also on the list of improvements seeking aid, Beattie said.
“Then, we could pack 125 barrels at a time,” he said, which comes out to about 2,000 cases of beer in a production run. “We want to get up to brewing three times a week.”
Another part of the request is a grain silo, which could hold 60,000 pounds of grain.
“We don’t have to lug the bags — we’ll have it piped right in,” Beattie said, noting it will take less time and manpower to prepare batches, as well as making storage simpler. “And since we’ll be buying more, it’ll lower prices.”
The bulk of the brewing is still aimed at the main building, which has almost 6,000 square feet of floor space, including the brewery and restaurant areas.
“The main goal is to maximize space before moving into that building,” next door, he said, which was purchased at the same time as the main building.
The second building, next door at 210 E. Greene St., has more than 18,000 square feet of space with three floors. Currently, that space is used for storing materials, kegs and cans for sale.
That’s where the canning operations would be, Beattie said, as well as increased cooler space for storing beer before it heads to distributors Certo Brothers Distributing and Sanzo Beverage Co.
The city was awarded the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award in September, one of 10 handed out in 2017. The initiative is in its second round, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposing a third round in his 2018-19 budget.
Almost 60 projects were officially submitted to the local planning committee for consideration, a process that went from November to mid-March. A list of 23 was submitted to Albany this month, with a total request of $15 million. By the end of the summer, the state is expected to narrow that list down to $9.7 million in awards. All projects are expected to be completed within five years.
Employment has also expanded, officials said, with around 15 when the brewery and restaurant opened to more than 20 today.
The brewery, even without DRI investment, will still keep growing, Beattie said.
“There’s endless opportunities for us,” Beattie said, with new beers including a mango-pineapple beer, a New England-style IPA and the firm’s first Pilsner lager variation expected to come out this year. “I’m really excited about doing some lagers — we’ve never made one before.”
In 1907, the Olean Brewing Company built a state-of-the-art brewery on the corner of Green & Barry Streets to supply the Olean area with fine beer. It was open for 13 years until its demise due to prohibition. Now, over 100 years later, we have brought this brewing complex back to its original purpose. Below, is a description of the brewery and the biography of the man who created it.
American Brewers’ Review
Olean.- The new plant of the Olean Brewing Co. will be one of the finest and most modern in this country, and though the courtesy of the brewing company we are able to give in the following an illustration and description of this plant. This brewery, with its prominent artistic features, is beautifully located on the corner of Green and Barry streets and adjoins the Allegheny River in the rear. The brewery proper is along the Pittsburgh, Shawmut & Northern Railroad, and equipped for a yearly output of 25,000 bbls, and has an artificial ice plant of 20 tons daily capacity. The buildings are grouped in such a way as to permit a very convenient and economical operation of the plant, at the same time ample space is left around the buildings so that everyone can increase in the proper direction without interfering with existing business. The arrangement of the whole brewery is very compact, every wall being used twice, which has brought the whole plant to narrowest limit of space and cost, but at the same time it is very commodious. Every room in the building is sufficiently lighted and ventilated, and the best sanitary conditions are obtained. The brewhouse is equipped a 100-bbl kettle outfit. The stockhouse has 5,300 bbls storage capacity. The bottling house contains the most modern bottling house machinery of 6 bbls daily capacity, driven by direct connected motors. The office is prominently located at a street corner, has a spacious lobby, private office, agents” room and vault on the first floor, and a meeting room in the second story. The buildings are all of good substantial construction with concrete foundations, brisk walls with pressed brick facing and cut stone trimmings, concrete floor arches between steel beams and have asphalt finish. The different machines are driven by direct connect motors and electricity is generated by a 35K.W. direct connect generator. The copper and tank work is furnished by the George E. Laubenheimer Co., of Chicago; the machinery and millwright work by Olsen & Tilgner Mfg. Co., of Chicago; the refrigerating machines and ice plant by the Vilter Mfg. Co., of Milwaukee; the generator, engine and motors by the Russel Engine Co., of Massilion, OH. The cooperage will be furnished by the Hauser, Brenner & Fath Co. of Cincinnati. The cork insulation has been furnished by the Armstrong Cork Co., of Pittsburgh. The plans and specifications for this brewery have been furnished by B. Barthel, the well-known brewery architect of Chicago, under whose personal supervision the plant is being erected.
Henry Sigel’s Bio from: Genealogical and Family History of Central New York, A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation. William Richard Cutter, 1912
Henry Sigel, son of John Jacob and Julia (Klocke) Sigel, was born in Buffalo, New York, March 2, 1863. He received his education in the public schools of that city and at St. Mary’s parochial school. He began his active business career as a cash boy in a department store. He later learned the trade of undertaker, in which line of work he was engaged in Olean for seven years, from 1880 to 1887. Among other things he is interested in the operating and producing of oil in the Pennsylvania fields, and is actively connected with the Pittsburgh, Shawmut & Northern railroad in the capacity of claim, real estate and tax agent. In the year 1907 he organized the Olean Brewing Company, erecting a fine brewery and manufacturing a high grade of goods for the local trade. The officers of the company are as follows: Henry Sigel, president; John T. Howard, vice-president; Joseph Kaye, treasurer; Colonel J. M. Homer, secretary. The company has a capital of $150,000 and the plant occupies extensive buildings at Barry and Green streets, constructed of Shawmut pressed brick, and covering about two and a half acres. The office building is entirely separate and is elegantly furnished. The brewery, one of the finest in the country, is fitted with the most modern machinery and is operated by electricity and gas; there is a modern ice plant with a capacity of eighty tons a day, finely equipped to supply the commercial and family trade. In connection with the brewing plant is a thoroughly appointed bottling establishment and when in full operation the works have a capacity of thirty thousand barrels of “Olean Beer,” as it is known. The establishment is under the supervision of Colonel James M. Homer as manager, and Brewmaster Conrad Buehl, who has been engaged in this business for nearly twenty years, and whose father before him wasan expert in the art of beer making. From thirty to forty skilled men are employed under them, and in the manufacture of the product only the best of malt, hops and rice are used, and the purest of water and yeast. The result is a beer of the highest possible quality, pure, wholesome and delicately flavored. All the officers of the company are men of prominence and high social standing in the community, closely identified with the commercial, financial and public life of the city.
Mr. Sigel took up his residence in Olean, New York in 1878, and for many years has been active and prominent in its public affairs. In 1887 he became connected with the police department, remaining until 1891, when he was appointed by W.B. Hughes to the position of under-sheriff, and he acted in this capacity up to 1894, when he was the candidate for the office of sheriff and was elected, serving from 1895 to 1898, and at the expiration of his term he again became under-sheriff, under W.H. Hazard. He discharged the duties of the office of under-sheriff with fidelity and impartiality, year by year constantly growing in public estimation. At the age of twenty-one years he attended the state convention at Buffalo as delegate and voted for Warner J. Miller for governor, and also acted in the same capacity in the convention that nominated Theodore Roosevelt for the governorship. He is an ardent advocate of the principles of Republicanism, and is an earnest and consistent member of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Sigel is one of the most substantial and enterprising citizens of Olean, wielding and influence for good in the community. By his own honorable exertions and moral attributed, he carved out for himself friends, affluence and position, and by the strength and force of his own character has overcome obstacles which to others less hopeful and less courageous would seem unsurmountable. His mind is ever occupied with projects for the advancement and welfare of his adopted city. Fortified with a keen, resourceful mind, excellent judgment and rare foresight, his energy is inexhaustible. Scrupulously honorable in all his dealings with mankind, he bears a reputation for public and private integrity, and being sociable and genial, he has a wide circle of friends. He responds liberally to all calls for charity, giving of his time and means for alleviation of distress. When he enlists in a cause he never withdraws from the conflict until the trouble ends, and it is due to his force and resource very largely that the vaccination trouble in Olean was brought to a close. He could occupy a prominent position in politicalleadership were he so disposed, but he would rather devote his time and attention to other lines of activity.
Mr. Sigel married, August 19,1884, Mary E. Lang, born August 10, 1864, daughter of Nicholas and Phillysine Lang. Children; Clara Frances, Florence Marie, Dolores Marie.